Frequently Asked Questions

How much are your courses and where do you run them?

The full list of courses you can sign up for are found on our Course Calendar, including the dates, price and location. To book into a course, simply click the ‘Book Now’ button and follow the prompts.

Do your courses have any prerequisites?

As our main courses are examination preparation courses, we do not conduct the exams and do not police the prerequisites that may apply – they will be mandated by the examining body such as API. It is your responsibility to ensure that you satisfy the requirements to sit the exams.

For API examinations, verify you have the correct experience HERE

For AICIP examinations, read the ‘Suggested Prior Attributes of Candidates’ tab HERE

For ASME Level 2 courses, we require that you either have passed the ASME Level 1 course (AND have demonstrated industry experience) or hold an appropriate certification such as API 510/570/653, AICIP or equivalent (such as relevant engineering discipline). We may require a copy of your resume and/or may conduct a phone interview to ensure the appropriate level of knowledge.

The experience and knowledge checks for ASME Level 2 are to ensure that we are not re-teaching assumed knowledge and that you are not wasting time and money in attending a course not appropriate for your experience level.

ASME Level 1 courses do not have any pre-requisites.

We require that you have good written and spoken English to be able to communicate effectively in technical terms relevant to the inspection industry. You will need reasonable high school level mathematics and the ability to use a scientific calculator.

Courses such as Senior AICIP, API 579 and ASME Level 2 will require above average mathematics skills and understanding, as well as knowledge of how to use a scientific calculator.

I’m looking at plant inspection as a career, should I consider AICIP or API certifications?

Quite frankly we do not recommend pursuing AICIP as a certification. This strong message has stemmed from numerous years of dissatisfaction and many attempts at communication with the Board of AICIP. The reasons would be summarised as follows:

  • AICIP is not an accredited Certification Body to ISO 17024 meaning that it has no oversight, no one to answer to and no auditing. The examination process is obfuscated, subjective and open to the whims of various examiners.
  • AICIP will change their examination policies without informing candidates nor updating their website. Whatever policies they do have in effect are confusing and not consistent.
  • The examination questions for many years have been very subjective and open to interpretation. More recently there are many questions without correct answer options, questions that have technically incorrect bases or insufficient/incorrect information provided.
  • Marking for the exams is based on subjective criteria and ‘remediation’ of inconsistent marks from examiners is completely arbitrary and unfair.
  • There is no specified curriculum, content, Body of Knowledge (call it what you will)
  • There are no specified documents or references for study or where answers to questions will be found or that would be regarded as required knowledge
  • Because of these exam failings, the pass rate per examination is around 20% (as published by AICIP). As of the September 2023 examinations the passing criteria have become more stringent, making it even more difficult to pass.
  • Examinations will routinely have issues that impact one’s state of mind going into a stressful exam
  • Marking of exams will normally take 2 – 3 months

Until the AICIP Board undertake wholesale change of the examination process, we recommend avoiding AICIP altogether and following the API pathway. For those that choose to undertake AICIP regardless of our recommendations we are still running a reduced amount of courses.

There are obvious differences between API or AICIP certification – API is recognised internationally and split into a number of specialties – pipework, pressure vessels and storage tanks. AICIP is an Australian certification (not recognised outside of Australia) and one certification covers most pressure equipment.

The general sentiment among client companies in Australia is when hiring plant inspectors they will accept as a minimum, either AICIP or API 510 AND 570 (ie 510 AND 570 together). So going for AICIP or both API 510 and 570 may depend on your circumstances and long term plans. Going for 2 API certifications is an investment in time and money which may seem less attractive than going for the one AICIP certification. However this needs to be offset by the fact that the AICIP examination traditionally has a low pass rate and therefore a high chance that the time taken to get certified is similar to going for 2 API certifications…

AICIP does not have any prerequisite for sitting the exam, whereas API is strict on the amount of experience that is required to sit an exam, which they enforce through contacting a range of referees. So having API certifications will show that you not only have passed the exam but have established industry experience.

If you are heading into the offshore Oil and Gas Industry either API or AICIP are well regarded. You may find certain clients in the Onshore Refinery Industry will prefer AICIP as a starting point. As API certifications are American-centric they do not contain any information regarding Australian pressure equipment regulations or complying with regulatory requirements.

Is the cost of the exam (API or AICIP) included in the cost of the course? Are the required codes/standards included in the cost?

No and no.

EXAM COST – The exam for API or AICIP is run by the particular certifying body and the exam fee is a part of the application process that YOU need to fill out, which will also require that you pay for the exam. We are providing training that will prepare you for the exam but have no contact or sway with the certifying body and therefore cannot assist with the exam application process. See the below points for applying for an API or AICIP exam.

CODES/STANDARDS – The required codes/standards are your responsibility to obtain or purchase.

Exam preparation courses like AICIP and API are based upon your knowledge of a range of codes and standards, knowledge that will be a part of your vocation. Once you complete the exam, those same codes should be a part of your day-to-day working life and thus you will require access to them.

We understand the cost of a large number of codes is expensive if you purchase them yourself although most students will be working for companies that will have SAI, IHS or Techstreet subscriptions that you can obtain the codes through.

For their exams API will publish an Effectivity List of the codes and editions of the codes that will be tested. If you learn from codes that are different from the Effectivity List there may be enough of a difference to be learning incorrect information.

For Australian Standards, the most up to date standard is always required. They do not change very often so when they do the difference is normally significant.

What is the process for application and sitting an API exam?

The first step in the process is to apply to sit the exam through the API ICP website. Once you have created a profile, navigate to the ICP (Inspector Certification Program) and select ‘Create New Application’. You will need to provide your details, experience and references (check the experience prerequisites for each course HERE) and pay the fee (see fee structure HERE).

NOTE – You cannot book the actual exam (ie the time/date/location) until API accept your application and provide you with an exam ID. This process will take around 4 weeks – it can take longer, particularly if you have applied for the exam early. If you are concerned about any delay please content API direct as we are not involved in the application process.

Once you have applied for the exam, communicate with the people that you have listed as references to let them know to expect an email from API and stress the urgency of them completing it for you. Having that email sit with the referee is one of the main reasons for delays in the process.

Upon completion of the application process and assuming that API accept the application, you will be provided with an API exam ID number. API exams are overseen and run by their third party contractor, Prometric. With the API exam ID number you will then be able to book your exam (ie the date/location)  on the Prometric website. Simply follow the prompts as a ‘Test Taker’, specify the exam, location etc and your exam will be booked.

NOTE – submission of the API exam application does not automatically allow you to then choose an exam place/time with Prometric. Your application needs to be reviewed and accepted by API first, which includes the process of validation by the referee. This process can take up to 4 weeks to complete, more if your referees are not timely in their responses.

Each API certification’s exam is run in a three week ‘exam period’ for the ‘exam cycle’, of which there are 3 cycles per year. The exam period for each certification’s cycle is shown here.

For example, the schedule may show that for API 510 the exam period is the 11th – 25th September. This means they will allow you to sit 510 somewhere within those dates for that cycle. You can only choose a date within that period once you have your API Exam ID AND subject to availability of the testing center in the city you want to sit it.

Exam time-slots will be within the periods shown above and are subject to availability in the particular testing center. Small centers will obviously have less availability so you will need to be pro-active in completing the process if you wish to get a time-frame convenient to you which is why we stress for you to apply for the exam AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

You may find when you search the Prometric website that no exam spots come up for your location/time frame. Note that the Prometric site only allows a search of a two week window so first try moving the search dates to include the third week of the cycle. If dates are still not available then the center is likely booked out and you will have to to a Remote Exam.

The API testing centers for Australia/NZ are Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland ONLY. There are also a number of centers in SE Asia such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Note – We have been notified by Prometric that the Perth, WA testing center is now permanently closed.  If you are based in WA your primary option will be to do the remote exam with the secondary option to fly to the East Coast and do the exam in Melbourne or Sydney.

If you find when you try to apply for the exam that there are no places available then your best option will be to do a remote proctored exam. This will enable you to sit the exam from home or work without needing to attend a Prometric Testing Center.

REMOTE PROCTORING VIA PROPROCTOR

As of February 2021 you are now able to take most API exams from a remote computer (like from home) using the Proproctor service, eliminating the need to travel to a Prometric center. This has advantages not only around travel but also for scheduling. It is more likely that you will be able to book an exam date that suits you using this remote examination method. See HERE for more information.

  • Our advice is that while using the ProProctor service may be a little painful at first, it is well worth taking advantage of. Being able to take the exam from your home or office will eliminate any issues around border closures that may be active at the time, particularly if you are from a region that does not have a Prometric testing center (like WA, QLD, SA, NT, TAS, ACT or regional NZ for example).
  • It will also be advantageous in regions where there are limited options for testing  due to the small size of the testing center. You will find that with the ProProctor service, you will have a much greater range of testing times/dates available which will be more convenient for you.
  • If you find that when you go to book an exam at a Prometric Center that there are no spots available (as often happens in Perth), the simplest solution is to change to a remote proctored exam and do it from home instead.
  • One disadvantage to note is that you will not be allowed to use scrap paper, all calculations need to be performed with an on-screen scratch pad.
  • You will need to ensure that your computer and network is suitable for a hassle-free examination.

NOTE – We do not have any relationship with Prometric nor API regarding your exam application or booking your exam. If you have issues with either Prometric or API on these matters we wont be able to assist other than offering general advice.

What is the format of your API courses? I did a course previously with another outfit and it consisted of a guy reading boring code clauses from Powerpoint slides…

Our courses are structured to ensure you have solid understanding of the concepts as well as ensuring you are prepared for a difficult examination. Our main examination preparation courses start with 3 months of online training to get you familiar with the concepts and the codes/standards.

The online training is followed by the classroom component of the course which is structured around navigating the body of knowledge to answer pertinent questions. Learning is punctuated with lessons from the trainer, classroom discussion and real world examples. We round off the course with a number of days of mock examinations so you are prepared for the exam process. The courses are intense, they require your full participation and you will learn a lot – and there are no Powerpoint slides.

See our Facebook Page and Google Reviews for feedback and reviews from our past students.

How to understand Continuing Professional Development (CPD) evidence for API 510/570/653 recertification.

As of the start of 2023 API will be phasing in a requirement for CPD hours in addition to the current recertification requirements. Starting at 8 hours for certifications requiring renewal in 2023, this will increase to 16 hours in 2024 coming to the eventual maximum of 24 hours for certifications requiring renewal in 2025 or later.

We see this as a very positive step for API, bringing the requirement for active inspection personnel in line with other professional vocations like engineers. The CPD requirement will encourage inspectors to seek a betterment of their knowledge base and broadening understanding of pressure equipment integrity.

THIS DOCUMENT gives you a great deal of information on how to go about it. The document is available, along with further information on THIS PAGE.

As you will see there are numerous ways of achieving the hours over the 3 year certification period. So long as you pro-actively pursue the hours through the certification period it should not be an onerous activity, however if you leave it to the last minute it almost certainly will be painful.

For students that have done our courses previously, the solution will be very simple. We can provide you with a certificate outlining the course, content and number of hours to be used at your recertification. If you are trying to use our training for CPD hours, you can only use training that was done within your 3 year certification period.

Page 6 of the above document has a list of suggested ‘Industry Related Topics for CPD’, of which you should draw your hours from at least 2 of the topics (however at this stage it only says that you have to draw from one). It would be prudent to claim hours that are relevant to the certification you are wanting to re-certify.

A course that you have done with us would fit into the category of ‘Third Party Training’. We can provide you with a certificate (if we have not done so already) which will outline the total hours spent for the training course and a broad list of subjects that may be covered. The certificate that we provide you can be used in your recertification process as outlined on page 14 of the above document.

Note that it is entirely up to you to decide which ‘Industry Related Topics for CPD’ and how many hours per topic that you claim from our course but you would need to ensure that they are accurate and realistic. Remember you can also use a great deal of other sources for CPD hours.

A few other points to note:

  • If you hold more than one certification you can apply CPD hours across multiple certifications that are expiring within a 3 year recertification period. So if you do a course within a 3 year certification period for 510 for example, you can apply the same hours to your other certification, say 570, so long as it fits within the 3 year period.
  • Up to 12 CPD hours can be ‘carried over’ to the next recertification period. For example if you do a course worth 24 hours of CPD in 2024, 16 hours of this will go to recertifying in 2024 and the remaining 8 hours can be carried over towards the next recertification in 2027.
  • You are able to upload CPD hours to the ICP Portal as you progress through the 3 year period. We encourage people to take advantage of this as it will make the hours easier to track as well as saving it for you. It will also automatically apply hours that may apply over multiple certifications.

We do have some short eLearning course for the purposes of providing hours of CPD that are not currently listed on our website. If you are interested in these please contact us. Remember however there are many other avenues for CPD hours without having to go to this step. See the API document listed above to read for yourself.

How do I apply for (and how much is) the AICIP exam?

Easiest to simply visit the AICIP website.

The applications will normally be open around 4 weeks before the published exam dates which are accessible through their website on the above link. Progressing your application is normally self explanatory (provided the exam application is open and available).

Note if you have any questions about their website, exams, questions about the exam please direct the questions to their administration as we have nothing to do with the execution of their exams or applications.

Where do ASME Plant Inspector qualifications fit in?

Wilkinson Coutts Engineering Training is one of the few worldwide providers of ASME Plant Inspector training. The ASME Plant Inspector series are regarded as qualifications rather than certifications whereby they are additional training/education that will count towards a level of learning or competence rather than prove that competence.

According to Australian Regulations and referencing standards (such as AS/NZS 3788) the requirement for someone performing inspections is that they are ‘competent’. Inspection personnel may be selected on their ‘competence’ (ie a combination of their experience, knowledge, training and/or other qualifications/certifications) rather than purely by their certifications.  ASME qualifications may count towards this competency and may be sufficient to operate at a certain level in certain sectors.

However you may find that the industry sector, inspection company or client company that you will be working for  will mandate certifications such as AICIP ISI, CBIP or API 510/570/653.

The ASME Plant Inspector Level 1 qualification is well regarded as an entry-level ‘apprenticeship’ course, where many of the foundational principles are introduced. This allows the candidate to work in a parallel field (such as NDE) and gain plant inspector experience or under the mentor-ship of a certified inspector. This qualification and the experience that comes from it may lead someone to take the step to become ‘certified’.

ASME Plant Inspector Level 2 qualification will introduce a number of more advanced subjects and acts as an adjunct to traditional certifications to boost an inspector’s knowledge and overall skill. The subjects covered may be more advanced or specialised compared to a traditional inspection certification.

Overall there is no one rule that can be applied to ASME qualifications in Australia. It will depend on the industry, the individual’s experience and the purposes of achieving the qualification.

ASME Plant Inspector qualifications are world renowned and extremely popular in the UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The ASME Plant Inspector courses are approved and ratified by ASME and are recognised around the world. However these courses are not the same as an ASME Authorised Inspector who would perform fabrication inspections for an Authorised Inspection Agency (AIA) in the USA and issue ‘U’ stamps and the like.

ASME Plant Inspector courses are offered as classroom, virtual classroom and eLearning – what is the difference?

Classroom – Our traditional method of training delivery. Students and trainer in the same classroom for a number of days.

Virtual Classroom – To accommodate CV19 travel restrictions the classroom component is delivered over Zoom. Same format as Classroom delivery, only that the students watch the trainer over webcam in real-time and any interaction is through the streaming software.

eLearning – No classroom component at all. All training delivery is through modules on our Learning Management System (LMS) which the student works through at their own pace. Generally we will mail workbooks to be used in conjunction with online modules. We are available for questions and assistance but do not present any lectures.

What’s the difference then between a qualification and a certification?

That’s a great question and is a confusing subject. Unfortunately the two words are mixed up in use and can appear to be interchangeable.

Generally speaking in the inspection and NDE fields the differentiating factors are:

QUALIFICATION

      • Has a defined curriculum rather than a large Body of Knowledge and examinations are based upon the curriculum taught.
      • Will not necessarily require any particular experience to enter the course and will not require proof of having performed a task following obtaining the qualification.
      • Does not require renewal.
      • Is often used to prove that the person has learnt something in the past (but does not necessarily remember it now).
      • Issued by a well regarded institution that does not necessarily need to comply to a standard.
      • Training/education is seen as integral to the process of obtaining the qualification. The process is more about the ‘having been taught’ than having passed the examination (although this is still important). It is not possible to skip the ‘education’ part and go straight to sitting the exam to become ‘qualified’.
      • The easiest way to visualise is to take the example of a university degree – a classic qualification that fits all of the above.

CERTIFICATION

      • Has a Body of Knowledge rather than curriculum.  The Body of Knowledge normally consists of a number of codes/standards/post construction codes that are specified. Knowledge of the content is required and examinations could come from anywhere within that BoK.
      • Can have barriers for entry such as experience requirements or pre-requisites.
      • Require re-certification at pre-determined time intervals and likely require proof of performance.
      • Is seen as a ‘ticket’ to demonstrate competence in a particular field.
      • Issued by a certifying body, often complying to a particular standard (such as ISO 17024)
      • Training is not necessarily required. If the student feels experienced or comfortable enough with the BoK they can progress straight to sitting the exam without any training/education on the subject. Passing the exam (and experience requirements) is all that is required for ‘certification’.
      • Familiar examples would be API, AICIP or NDE certifications.

Can you run in-house courses for our company?

Yes and we do so very often. If your company has a specific training need we can deliver training for your staff at your location. Simply get in touch and we will put together a proposal for you.

I live outside Australia, what is your advice for getting work as a Plant Inspector in Australia?

There is no doubt that opportunities exist for work in the Oil/Gas and Refinery industries in Australia at the moment. Visa changes mean that few companies ‘sponsor’ foreign candidates and normally stipulate in job adverts that the candidate have the ability to legally work in Australia.

If you have the relevant certifications and experience, it would be best to contact hiring companies direct and canvas them for work. Jobs are advertised regularly on professional social media such as Linkedin.

Can I sit the AICIP exam online or overseas?

No.

The AICIP examination process consists of 3 x 3 hour written exams that are run over 2 days. These examinations are run in Perth, Darwin, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane each March and September. See here for the AICIP website where you can apply for the exam and see the exam schedule.

If you have problems with the exam application, website or exam venues please contact AICIP direct, do not contact us as we have nothing to do with these things.

How many people do you have in your courses?

We have a maximum of 12-15 students per course. This ensures each student receives the attention they require and there is balanced student engagement.

What is the format and time commitment of the ‘online training’ component of your courses?

Many of our our courses combine ‘online training’ with a classroom training component. The online training is designed to introduce many of the concepts that will form the foundation built upon during the classroom course. Our online training is provided through our Learning Management System (LMS) which guides you through content on-screen, often in conjunction with required codes or standards.

There are no lectures associated with this online training and no specific times that one needs to log-on in order to access it. For most courses we would anticipate a time commitment of around 6-8 hours per week for the duration of the online training component, however how you choose to work through that content is up to you.

Can I pay my invoice by credit card?

Yes. Our standard form of payment is bank transfer, which suits most people and companies. We realise that credit card payments can suit certain circumstances so have introduced credit card payments directly from your invoice through Stripe. As this is not our standard way of taking payment a 1.8% surcharge applies to credit card payments.

When is my invoice due?

Full payment is required prior to the commencement of the online training component of your course. Once the online course has started the course fee is non refundable, however you may be able to transfer courses in extenuating circumstances. These circumstances will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

For courses that do not have an online training component (such as ASME Level 1), the invoice will be due 1 month prior to the course start date.

In certain circumstances such as when a course fills a long way out from the start date, we may ask for a deposit to secure your place on the course.

Do I have to pay all in one go or can I pay my invoice over time?

Paying in full or piecemeal is acceptable. If you do pay in smaller increments we will update your invoice each time to show how much is still owing. In circumstances where there is a classroom component, full payment will be required prior to the start of the classroom training.