Precourse Preparation

Students come from many backgrounds. We have inspectors who have picked up their knowledge and experience over the years in the same class with recently graduated engineers who are just entering the inspection field. All have strengths and weaknesses. Nondestructive examination is normally a strength for inspectors and a weakness for engineers. ASME Section IX welding requirements can be a weakness for both. In order to smooth over some of the rough spots we are recommending the following activities as “homework” before you come to class.

Questions about the process? Learn more.  


The “Body of Knowledge” for each certification specifically identifies the areas in the codes and standards referenced that you should be familiar with. In some cases specific paragraphs are identified in at the end of “knowledge statements” in the documents. The “Body of Knowledge” is free and you may obtain one by calling API at 202-682-8064 or downloading one at Go to the Select Program drop down menu, select program, then go to Exam Info.   Read all the areas of the codes noted in the Body of Knowledge at least once.

The Body of Knowledge also has a section on what NOT to study. Read this too so you do not waste time studying information that you will not be tested on.



The questions for the exam are written by volunteers and, like all volunteer projects, are probably done the night before they are due. Read the documents as though you are looking for some nice facts to make multiple choice questions out of and highlight them. Memorize that information. Use the information in different contexts so you develop a complete understanding.


If Section IX is a weak area you need to be familiar with the basic welding processes that may be covered on the exam. They are (in ASME terminology):

  • SMAW: Shielded Metal Arc Welding (commonly called “stick welding”)
  • SAW: Submerged Arc Welding (commonly called “sub arc”)
  • GTAW: Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (commonly called “TIG”)
  • GMAW: Gas Metal Arc Welding (commonly called “MIG”)
  • for API-653 only the SMAW and SAW methods are required

To become familiar with the processes you should actually witness welding and have the process explained by an experienced welding engineer, inspector or welding technician. You will be expected to review Procedure Qualification Records (PQR’s) and Welding Procedure Specifications (WPS’s). Section IX requires tensile and bend tests to be performed to qualify WPS’s. These results are documented on the PQR. Go to a welding testing lab and get a good look at the coupons cut from test weldments and the testing process. You should also witness the welding and actual heat treatment of a weldment in the shop or field.

Get copies of a simple SMAW PQR & WPS and take a look at the information contained in them. Compare that to the essential and nonessential variables required to be addressed by Section IX in Table QW-253.

We do have one caution: Don’t pay much attention to what you are told about ASME Section IX requirements as we have found that they are universally misunderstood and proper compliance is rare.


If NDE is a weak area you will need to witness these basic methods:

  • RT - Radiography - ASME Section V, Article 2
  • UT - Ultrasonics - ASME Section V, SE-797 only from Article 23 (Thickness measurement only)
  • PT - Penetrant Examination - ASME Section V, Article 6 (All methods)
  • MT - Magnetic Particle Examination - ASME Section V, Article 7 (Yoke & Prod Methods only)
  • 570 only also includes VT - Visual Examination - ASME Section V, Article 9
  • 570 only also includes LT - Leak Testing - ASME Section V, Article 10

Go out in the field and witness these methods being applied and witness the interpretation of the final results of the examinations. Read the required contents for the NDE procedures in ASME Section V and compare a procedure to the required information. Witness the actual application of the procedures to see if they are being carried out correctly. Witness the interpretation of radiographs and be familiar with the required markings, location markers, Image Quality Indicators (IQI’s or what we did call penetrameters or “pennies”), and image quality factors such as density and IQI image.

Hellier NDTFor additional training regarding NDT methods, please contact Hellier NDT