NETA: Setting The Standard
In the early 1970s, there were few standards for electrical testing. NFPA had authorized a committee in 1968 to create NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance. This standard addressedelectrical equipment maintenance practices. It also touched on acceptance testing, advised on equipment, type of tests, and how often tests should be performed.
However, it did not provide specifications for standardized electrical testing procedures for medium- to high-voltage systems or qualification requirements for test technicians. This meant that when electrical testing was performed, it was conducted by a wide variety of types of companies not necessarily specialists in the field of electrical testing. This wide array of companies with different electrically-related disciplines created opportunity for inconsistent test practices, acceptable test values, and maintenance testing procedures. Additionally, there were no standardized requirements for a test technician’s knowledge or experience, leaving that to the end user to be defined. Consequently, test methods and procedures, the type of test equipment used, and safety procedures were all conducted at the discretion of the company providing the testing services.
It was during this time that a group of electrical business owners in the United States recognized the need to standardize field tests in order to significantly improve safety and power system reliability. In 1972, these pioneers formed NETA, the National Electrical Testing Association, later to become the InterNational Electrical Testing Association, with the goal of working with industry stakeholders to create uniformity by establishing uniform testing procedures for electrical equipment and apparatus. Diligent work toward its mission resulted in the publication of the NETA Acceptance Testing Specifications in1973 now known as ANSI-NETA Standard for Acceptance Testing Specifications for Electrical Power Equipment and Systems. In 1979, NETAintroduced the first Maintenance Testing Specifications for Electrical Power Distribution Equipment and Systems.
NETA had long set its sights on becoming an accredited standards developer under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In 1996 NETA earned designation as an Accredited Standards Developer, and the ANSI/NETA Standard for the Certification of Electrical Testing Technicians was approved asan American National Standard on March 15, 2000. Other smaller sections of the maintenance document followed, with the entire ANSI/ NETA MTS becoming an approved ANSI standard in 2007, and the ANSI/NETA ATS in 2009.
The ANSI/NETA Standard for Certification of Electrical Testing Technicians was created tocodify the experience, education, and training requirements necessary for an individual to obtain a level of competency as an electrical test technician. Furthermore, NETA carefully examines the qualification of each NETA Accredited Company (NAC) in addition to certifying the individual technician employed by that NAC. This ensures that not only is the test technician qualified to perform power system and electrical equipment testing in accordance with industry standards, but that the company supporting those technicians is also qualified, providing them with the necessary correctly calibrated test equipment, a safety program that is sound in practice and meets minimum requirements, review of test reports by a professional engineer, and that guidelines are met with regard to the test report provided at the conclusion of their services. One aspect often overlooked is the quality of the test report itself; although those performing the tests need to be qualified, it is important the technicians are also able to deliver a quality report, since those reports are used as the basis for continuance of maintenance programs.
The NETA Certified Technician is Uniquely Qualified
A NETA Certified Technician has earned a Level III or Level IV NETA Certification in electrical power systems testing and brings the knowledge and field experience necessary to perform testing as specified in the ANSI/ NETA standards. NETA also offers a Level II, Assistant Technician designation.
“ANSI/NETA standards require: …the on-site crew leader shall hold a current certification, Level III or higher, in electrical testing. This certification shall be in accordance with ANSI/NETA ETT-2010, Standard for Certification of Electrical Testing Technicians”.
The scope of the ANSI/NETA Standard for Certification of Electrical Testing Technicians specifies the following:
- This standard establishes minimum requirements for qualification and certifi-cation of the electrical testing technician (ETT).
- This standard details the minimum train-ing and experience requirements for elec-trical testing technicians and provides criteria for documenting qualifications and certification.
- This standard details the minimum qualifications for an independent and impartial certifying body to certify elec-trical testing technicians.
What it takes to become a NETA Certified Technician
A NETA Certified Technician must advance through three levels of classifications defined in terms of the skills and knowledge required in a given method or methods to perform specific electrical testing maintenance activities. Advancement is earned through the NETA Certification Program requiring minimum levels of training across 22 categories, specified years of testing experience, and the passing of electrical testing examinations at each level, administered by a certifying body as defined by ANSI/NETA ETT Standard for Certification of Electrical Testing Technicians.
“A Level IV NETA Certification means more today as the industry moves more and more towards specifying testing to ANSI/NETA Standards. Data Centers often demand they have a Level IV NETA Certified Technician running the job. Because of this, more of our technicians are working toward getting their Level IV Certification. It’s an accomplishment. I know other Level IV technicians, and we all have a lot of respect for each other.”
Power Products Solutions, Inc.,
NETA Level IV Certified Technician since September 2006.
This provides a brief overview of the NETA Test Technician Certification Levels and their Respective Requirements:
ETT Trainee Level I– Offers an entry–level gateway into the electrical testing industry
- Providing assistance to higher level technicians
- Pretest and posttest sequence assembly and disassembly
- Performing simple measurements and /or tests under direct supervision
- High school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED)
ETT Assistant Level II– Has sufficientknowledge and experience to be qualified for assuring the safety of him/her.
- Performance of limited testing and service work while requiring direct supervision
- Two years of related experience in the electrical testing industry
- Minimum of 40 hours of training in safety
- Safety knowledge including an understanding of lockout/tagout procedures and requirements, arc-flash and shock hazard analyses, and other facets of hazardous electrical energy control procedures
- Minimum of 160 hours of training related to certification element categories
- Pass an electrical testing Level II examination administered by a certifying body as defined in this standard (See ANSI/NETA ETT – 2010, Annexes A, B, and C contain specific requirements)
“To become a level IV NETA Certified Technician you really need both field experience and a firm understanding of power engineering principles. Passing the Level IV exam was challenging, as challenging as passing my P.E. exam. The most difficult section of the exam deals with very specific scenarios that demand theoretical as well as practical, hands on experience. In preparing for the exam, the study guide provided by NETA was very helpful. Reviewing the NETA Technical Quizzes and the NETA Handbooks were also good tools for review. If you’re going to lead other technicians you don’t ask people to do something you don’t do yourself. We recently hired a level III technician, and he is now inspired to earn his level IV certification.”
Western Electrical Services,
NETA Level IV Certified Technician since January 2012
ETT Certified level III– Is capableof supervising ETT Trainee Level I and ETT Assistant level II.
- Performance and management of routine and moderately complex tasks and projects.
- Evaluation of test data
- Responsible for the safety of others
- Provide qualified guidance on electrical testing
- Perform electrical power switching
- Minimum of five years of full-time experience in electrical testing industry
- Minimum of 24 hours of additional documented safety training
- Two hundred and forty hours of additional documented training related to the certification of element categories for Level III
- Pass an electrical testing Level III examination administered by a certifying body as defined in this standard (See ANSI/NETA ETT – 2010, Annexes A, B, and C contain specific requirements)
ETT Senior Certified level IV– Supervises large projects and multiple crews and can work independently.
- Performs complex investigations, tests, and evolution and prepare written reports as needed
- Minimum of 10 years experience in the electrical testing industry
- Minimum 40 hours additional safety training
- Minimum of 200 hours of additional training related to the certification element categories for Level IV
- Pass an electrical testing Level IV examination administered by a certifying body as defined in this standard (Annexes A, B, and C contain specific requirements)
For each NETA Certification level there is a specified number of years of experience recognizing that in addition to knowledge, a skilled technician must be regularly engaged in the process of testing and evaluating electrical systems to ensure they can apply their knowledge at any given time in any testing situation. In addition, each level has specific training requirements. The training is progressive and ensures that the technician is updating his/her knowledge throughout his/her career. If a technician wishes to advance to higher certification levels, the training is structured so as to build on current knowledge.
By Jill Howell, NETA
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