Offshore coating inspectors, as their name suggests, are coating inspectors that work mainly in marine and offshore environments. It is, therefore, essential for these inspectors to have an in-depth and scientific understanding of the aggressive corrosive reactions that can occur in maritime settings. This profession requires a high degree of skill and proficiency because coating failures in offshore structures can often result in millions of dollars in damages.
What Does an Offshore Coating Inspector Do?
Offshore coating inspectors, like their onshore counterparts, are essentially in charge of quality control (QC). (Learn more about QC in the article What Does Quality Control Mean in the Corrosion and Coatings Industry?) They check various structures, parts and components to ensure that marine coatings are applied correctly and within acceptable industry standards. In addition to newly coated structures, offshore coating inspectors may also assess existing painted surfaces for damages and other defects that may render the structure vulnerable to marine corrosion, thus compromising the structure's integrity.
Both offshore and onshore coating inspectors rely on a variety of tools to do their jobs. These tools range from manual devices, such as calipers and gauges, to electronic and digital equipment, such as electrometers, low/high-voltage holiday testing machines, and dry film thickness (DFT) gauges. In addition to using tools and equipment, coating inspectors must also be able to assess the condition of coatings using visual inspection methods.
Some of the other duties of an offshore coating inspector include:
- Reading and interpreting engineering drawings and specifications (Prepare for these tasks by reading Understanding the Special Precautions for Marine Coatings Applied Above the Waterline)
- Recording and reporting inspection data
- Recommending remedial procedures to repair damaged coatings
- Communicating with various engineering professionals, including civil, mechanical and electrical engineers
- Monitoring coating operations and identifying possible non-conformance in the application process
- Accepting or rejecting finalized coating operations
Educational Requirements to Become an Offshore Coating Inspector
While educational requirements can vary depending on the specific job and responsibilities of the inspector, most coating inspector courses and programs require a high-school diploma at a minimum. Because inspection often deals with taking measurements using gauges, a basic understanding of mathematics and algebra is essential. Communication and report writing is also a crucial part of an inspector’s daily duties; therefore, reading, writing and strong grammar skills are important. (Related reading: Global Educational Training Opportunities and Job Prospects in the Corrosion Field.)
Technical Qualifications to Become an Offshore Coating Inspector
NACE Level 1
Most offshore coating inspector jobs require individuals to be at least National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) Level 2 certified. To achieve this qualification, NACE Level 1 must first be completed as a prerequisite. NACE’s Corrosion Inspector Program (CIP) – Level 1 covers the fundamentals of practical coating inspection work.
This course is geared towards providing participants with the knowledge needed to perform basic coating inspection using nondestructive techniques and equipment. Some of the other skills obtained from completing the CIP level 1 course include:
- Knowledge of various coating materials, including their required surface preparation and application techniques
- Understanding different coating types, their composition and their curing mechanisms
- Ability to differentiate between multiple surface preparation techniques such as abrasive blasting, solvent cleaning and manual cleaning
- Performing various inspection procedures and identifying coating and fabrication defects
- Basic work safety procedures
NACE Level 2
NACE’s CIP Level 2 program further expands on their level 1 course by focusing on advanced inspection methods for both steel and non-steel substrates using destructive or non-destructive techniques. The program also dives deeper into surface preparation, coating types and inspection criteria for various coatings and surfaces. Candidates will also gain further insights into specialized coatings and liners used in the corrosion protection industry.
Some of the advanced topics covered in the CIP Level 2 course include, but are not limited to:
- Advanced corrosion theory and cathodic protection (CP) systems
- The use of digital electronic hygrometers, data loggers and wind speed monitors
- Knowledge of standards and inspection considerations for specialized applications, such as hot-spray, centrifugal, electrostatic and plural-component coating systems
- Preparation and inspection considerations for liquid-applied and thick barrier linings
- Utilizing destructive coating inspection tools and equipment
BOSIET (Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training) represents one of the specialized training courses that differentiate offshore coating inspectors from their onshore counterparts. BOSIET is a training program specifically for professionals who work in offshore environments. It involves safety training, emergency response training and other assessments for persons who are entering the offshore and oil and gas industry.
Some of the main components of BOSIET training include emergency first aid, self-rescue, lifeboat training, basic firefighting and helicopter safety and escape (often considered to be the most challenging part of the training).
HUET (Helicopter Underwater Egress Training, also known as Helicopter Underwater Escape Training), is similar to the helicopter safety and escape module of the BOSIET training program. It is provided to helicopter flight crews, offshore oil and gas professionals, law enforcement and military personnel who need to travel via helicopter over water.
The training in this course is geared towards preparing persons for emergency exit in the event of a crash landing over water. HUET training simulates this emergency situation by rotating and sinking a training module into a pool. Participants are taught to brace for impact while identifying primary and secondary exits.
Other Essential Skills and Qualities
In addition to academic and technical qualifications, individuals must be aware that this job specification involves considerable hands-on/manual work. Therefore persons interested in becoming offshore coating inspectors must also possess specific physical traits including:
Inspectors are required to stand for long periods and access hard to reach areas. Additionally, persons in this field must have the ability to respond quickly to emergencies, should they arise.
Lifting heavy objects may sometimes be required. Offshore coating inspectors must, therefore, be in relatively good physical condition.
Inspectors must be skilled with their hands to properly operate equipment, especially in hard to reach areas where body positioning and posture may not be ideal.
Offshore coating inspectors must possess sound knowledge of various coating types, their applications and different types of defects. This requires specific training (NACE CIP Level 1 and 2) as well as the appropriate offshore-related safety training.
While academic qualifications and training are essential, offshore inspections also require persons to be in good physical condition to carry out specific tasks, as well as being able to respond appropriately to offshore emergency situations.