In the field of nondestructive testing, safety and precision are paramount. Your ability to conduct testing to the appropriate specifications not only gives you job security, but ensures the safety of your coworkers, customers and the public at large.
To govern skills and safety in its nondestructive testing industry, Canada has what’s known as CGSB certification.
CGSB nondestructive testing (NDT) certification assesses your education, level of training, practical work experience and even your eyesight. Based on your performance in these assessments, you can obtain certification in a number of skill areas at varying levels of proficiency.
CGSB certification positions you for optimal job prospects and maximizes your earning potential in the field. Certification is a rigorous process, so obtaining it demonstrates to employers that you’re able to perform the work at the highest standard and deliver the very best quality product.
Ready to start the certification process? Read on to find out what’s required and learn more about landing a job with CGSB certification in Canada.
What is the CGSB?
The Canadian General Standards Board, or CGSB, is part of Public Works and Government Services Canada. Established in 1934, it develops standards and provides conformity assessment services to government entities and private-sector companies.
It develops specifications and manuals, lists certified products and services, and registers companies that have been verified for meeting international quality and environmental management standards.
In addition to developing product standards, CGSB’s other primary function is to set and maintain that standards for certifying individuals in nondestructive testing roles.
Accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), the CGSB sets certain criteria for NDT skills like ultrasonics, radiography, magnetic particle inspection, penetrant testing and eddy current analysis. Getting certified in one or more of these skills can greatly expand your career and earning prospects.
Prerequisites for training
If you’re ready to get certified in nondestructive testing, there are a few prerequisites you’ll need to take care of before registering for the exam.
First, you’ll need to complete coursework with a recognized training organization (RTO) and pass a materials and process examination. RTOs have been approved by the Natural Resources Canada National Non-Destructive Testing Certification Body (NDTCB) to offer these training courses.
The 32-hour prerequisite course covers a variety of materials and process topics and culminates in a completion examination. You must score 70% or higher on this materials and process exam before moving on to nondestructive testing training. You’ll also need to pass a math skills test.
Once you’ve passed the prerequisite exam, it’s time to move on to skill-specific nondestructive testing training. These courses drill down to a particular skill–industrial radiography, visual testing, etc.–and are offered by the same RTOs that conduct the prerequisite exam (although not every RTO offers courses in every skill area).
The skill and level of certification you’re seeking will determine how much coursework you need to complete. The NDTCB has mandated that at least 40% of your course time must be spent on practical training. A 40-hour course would require a minimum of 16 hours of hands-on training.
Certain skill areas, like radiographic testing, come with their own additional training stipulations. You can find a complete breakdown of the required training for each skill area and level here.
In addition to fulfilling the NDT training requirements, you’ll need to gain a predetermined amount of work experience in your desired area of certification. This ranges between one month and 18 months of work depending on the skill and level of certification you’re pursuing.
The work experience must be verified by your employer and submitted to the NDT Certification Body (NDTCB) for approval.
This phase can feel like a bit of a Catch-22 for NDT personnel. Most employers prefer you to be certified in order to hire you, but in order to get certified you need to first have work experience.
The good news is that most major types of NDT contracting work can help you secure that coveted work experience to fulfill the certification prerequisite. Networking and looking for work during the industry’s slow season can also help you get your foot in the door.
It’s required that you complete the various levels of certification (Level I, Level II and Level III) sequentially. In other words, if you’re pursuing level II certification, you must complete the required work experience for both Level I certification and Level II certification, not just Level II.
NDTCB makes several allowances for people who are pursuing an accelerated path to certification or seeking certification for multiple skills at once. You can find a comprehensive breakdown of these specific scenarios and the qualifying work experience here.
The final piece of CGSB certification is taking an eye exam. That’s right, the certification process is so thorough that it even assesses the accuracy of your vision.
The eye exam covers near vision acuity, distance vision acuity and color vision, accounting for the use glasses and contact lenses where necessary. Like the written examination, your eye exam must be renewed every five years.
How to get CGSB certified
Once you’ve completed the prerequisite training and have obtained the appropriate amount of work experience, you’re ready to apply for CGSB certification and take the appropriate NDT exam.
You’ll also need to download and complete a series of forms and submit the applicable fees. The process is a financial investment; you can expect to pay fees to NDTCB for application, written registration and practical registration, as well as fees to your chosen examination center for each portion of the exam.
Certifications must be maintained and renewed on an ongoing basis through continuing education hours and points. Your initial certification is valid for five years. After that period, you can opt to renew your certification, which extends its validity without having to repeat the certification process. Each renewal is good for five years.
After you’ve renewed your certification once (typically a period of ten years since your initial certification), you can either redeem your certification with continuing education points/hours or get recertified with another examination. You must do this before your validity expires. If your certification expires before you renew it or lapses for another reason, like a significant break in work experience, you’ll need to go through revalidation.
Learn more about the various requirements for CGSB certification renewal, recertification and revalidation here.
Finding a job with a CGSB certification in Canada
Having a CGSB certification opens up a wealth of job opportunities in a lucrative and growing market. According to the latest report from Job Bank Canada, demand for professionals to fill nondestructive testing jobs is expected to remain consistent through 2026, with about 19,000 projected job openings.
Inspectors at the upper end of the salary spectrum take home upwards of $110,000 a year. Your earning potential increases with the advancement of your certification and skill level.
You’ll no doubt see how valuable your CGSB certification is once you start searching for job openings; many list certification as the number one requirement in the job description.
Though the job prospects are promising, finding a nondestructive testing job is a time-consuming undertaking. After you’ve gone through the lengthy certification process, you have to begin an entirely new project: finding, researching and applying for positions in your skill area that are a good fit.
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