Regarding alternate certification bodies, the article “Spin-Offs,” in the August 2007 issue, mentions the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) as the most common alternate. Unfortunately, a few years ago NICET discontinued offering new certifications. The International Electrical Testing Association (NETA) specs list NICET as an alternate. That is correct for currently certified individuals but not an option for others seeking certification. I think it's important for readers to know that the only certification supported by the NETA ETT-2000 is now NETA — and that NETA does not allow anyone to take the exam who is not working for a NETA member company.

Although I have been NICET-certified since 1993, have an associate's degree in electrical power, an electrical contractor's license (in three states), a general contractor's license, 24 years of experience in testing and maintenance of electrical power systems, and manage a maintenance and testing operation for a large manufacturer (which is prohibited from joining NETA because it is a manufacturer), I cannot take the only certification exam they are now promoting.

NETA does many good things in the way of standards development and promoting ethics in our business, but companies like Kay-R, other contractors, and manufacturers can also provide these valuable services and are likely to use certified people if there were an open certification process. I share the above comments based primarily on the concern that there is not currently a certification alternative for this industry.

Also mentioned in the “NETA Certification Requirements” sidebar is that NETA companies are required to employ at least one professional engineer (P.E.). I understand this requirement to be that the P.E. must at least be under contract, but may not be under the permanent full-time employment of the company.
Jerry Gentle, service location manager, Square D Co., Raleigh, N.C.

NICET's response: For many years, NICET has certified technicians in electrical testing of medium- and high-voltage equipment. In 2000, it was decided that this test was in need of a major updating of both its exam structure and its technical content. NETA provided support for the first phase of this project — the setting of the test structure and defining of the content of each exam. The next phase (writing the test questions) will require dozens of subject matter experts and support for their activities. NICET is looking at ways to move ahead with the completion of this revised program.

While seeking this pool of qualified volunteers, it became apparent to us that it would not be a quick process. In the meantime, the existing exam was aging and becoming less reliable. For that reason, testing for certification in electrical testing was suspended beginning Jan. 1, 2006, until the new exam could be completed. (Individuals who had valid certifications at that time will continue to have valid certifications as long as they maintain them.)

NICET recognizes the need for a nationally recognized, third-party certification program available to all electrical testers, and hopes that support will be forthcoming from the industry to complete that program. If any readers might be willing to help with this project, they are asked to contact NICET at
Brian Gifford, senior manager, program development, NICET, Alexandria, Va.

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