Defining Inspection Competency - our approach at NECIT

Cherelle Lyons - Managing Director

In this post, we debate why the right blend of both certification and experience are the only way to ensure inspection competence.

Competency theory

To provide the consistency and value our clients need, our vision at NECIT is to create a reliable and trusted network of inspectors around the world who are assessed and registered against a higher bar of qualifications than others. Our entry requirements for registration of inspectors is based upon a simple theory:

Certification + Experience = Competency


Being able to offer clients a consistently high level of competent inspectors allows us to aim for quality within our network rather than simply volume. We aim for our inspectors to be able to demonstrate high multi-discipline competency levels through both certification and experience. Our experience shows that this delivers an assurance of quality and reliability to clients whilst delivering value to their project through timely, detailed and accurate information. This is particularly important when projects are operated across multiple time zones and countries where you need to trust that an inspector is just getting on with delivering a job t, and beyond, expectations.

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At NECIT we review, validate and check/log expiration dates for every certificate and claimed certification. This ensures that every inspector in our system will only ever be proposed for a relevant inspection if they have in date certification in line with the timings of a project.

We also seek to work with as many inspectors as possible who have multi-discipline capabilities, such as Mechanical + Protective costings, Mechanical + Electrical, Mechanical + NDT. Gaining this level of multi-capability means that inspectors can be deployed across multiple stages of a project, which in turn brings efficiencies to the client through the avoidance of constant inspector turnover.


Experience is not just being able to say you have worked on a particular type of project, delivered a certain skill or served however many years to the trade. Those measures have value but you also want to hear things like:

“I’ve been here before, seen this situation, know how this is built, have seen those problems before, understand the solutions, I stop problems happening before they do”

How many of us would feel comfortable letting an unknown, unproven player take a penalty in the world cup final? You just need to look at Chris Waddle to prove that point.

We also appreciate the client perspective, where it is all about managing RISK levels and minimising RISK to a project. Clients need an inspector who can prove they have lived and worked through the tough problems and have worked with clients and vendors as a team to find a solution.

Learning on the job is a risk to a moving process/project and experience alongside certification is one of the best ways to avoid this.


We regularly witness an ongoing debate on social media around which is more important to a client – Experience or Certification.

The answer (as you may expect) is that they are both important as variables in producing the answer of required competency. 30 years of experience in welding does not automatically achieve certification. Experience should however ultimately make gaining certification easier and by the same token, lack of experience makes attaining certification more difficult. It is about getting the right blend of certification and experience to fit the requirements of a job.

Inspectors with little experience and a lot of certification shows without question that the inspector is both intelligent and has been independently verified to be competent in a technique. However, overall competency also needs a level of project experience that will enable an inspector to act in an appropriate way when on site. Such as remaining calm and focused when alarming situations or problems arise.

Conversely, it can be logically assumed that someone who has been involved in multiple projects over a number of years will have the experience to handle challenging situations with assurance and capability. However, relying purely on knowledge and experience that has never (or at least infrequently) had their knowledge and experience tested is a dangerous approach. You would never get on an aeroplane if you knew that the pilot with ’30 years of experience’ had never passed a test.

Getting the balance of certification and experience right

Our view at NECIT is that a balance of both experience and certification is needed to provide the right level of competency to a client. Our coordinators challenge and scrutinize both aspects with every inspector candidate in relation to every job. That way, we ensure that when we agree to support clients and their projects we do so with the confidence that we have the best possible resources to help their project become reality – on time, on budget and to the quality levels required. This is simply summarised as Proof of learning through discussion, Proof of Experience through CV, Trade tests, customer feedback review and action all tied together by accurate and full record keeping in the bespoke NECIT database.

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