The different responsibilities of thermographers.

First of all, this is an unregulated industry, and in most regions there is no legal requirement to be certified. However, most insurance companies require those carrying out work to be certified as part of their specifications, or they specify that it should be carried in accordance with industry standards. The industry standard for thermography outside the USA is ISO 18436, for a complete list of relevant standards, please see our blog on standards.

Level 1:

This is the industry standard for thermographer’s. It is the basic level, and certification is seen as acceptance that the operator can use a camera and perform basic analysis. A level 1 Thermographer should be working under the guidance of someone certified at a higher level, and he should be following procedures prepared by a Level 3. He should be told which measurement technique that he should be following. Level 1′s are able to collect data, take images and understand how to reduce potential errors. Sometimes they are limited to taking images and restricted from writing reports. In other cases they will only work qualitatively. A Level 1 thermographer should have received 32 hours of training, and should have 400 hours of documented experience over a 12 month period.

Level 2:

A level 2 thermographer is someone with a higher degree of training and experience. He understands more about the camera and how it works, and the physics related to thermography. Level 2 thermographers are better placed to specify thermography equipment, and to supervise level 1 thermographers. Like Level 1 thermographers, Level 2′s should be following procedures developed by a Level 3. Usually they are able to perform and direct IR thermography according to established procedures. They are able to select the correct measuring technique for themselves, they can write reports, and can work quantitatively. A Level 2 thermographer should have received an additional 32 hours of training, and should have 1200 hours of documented experience over a 24 month period.

Level 3:

Level 3 thermographers undertake the highest level of thermography and enjoy the most freedom. Since they develop the procedures, they are free to develop new ones as and when required. They usually understand more about the laws of physics as they relate to thermography. Level 3′s often get involved with machine prognostics and get involved with preventing problems from reoccurring at the highest level through recommending thermodynamic corrective actions. He is able to perform and direct all types of thermodynamic measurements, and analysis. Level 3′s are qualified to establish thermography programmes, determine acceptance or failure criteria, interpret codes and standards, perform prognostics. They are also usually familiar with other test methods and can recommend supplementary tests. A Level 3 thermographer should have received an additional 32 hours of training, and should have 1920 hours of documented experience over a 48 month period.

Most people and companies do not comply with the current standards. This is a sad reflection of the state of the thermography business at the moment. However there is a growing understanding that not all certification is the same, and recognition that some certification is little more than a piece of paper. Most thermography companies will be able to provide you with copies of their thermographer’s certification, and calibration certification for their equipment. Good companies will have their thermographers certified by a third-party, like BINDT.


It takes years to make a good thermographer. Its more than just spending a week on a course