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SSPC, NACE Release Improved ACS-1 Applicator Standard

June 10, 2016

Subject/Title:  SSPC ACS-1 Standard Practice/NACE No. 13 “Industrial Coating and Lining Application Specialist Qualification and Certification”

Committee Name: C.3.15, 2015 Revision SSPC-ACS 1/NACE No. 13

Committee Chair Name and Company: Gil Rogers, Rogers and Associates; Jeff Theo, Vulcan Painters

Description of Contents/ Technical Revisions:

The ACS 1 standard contains the benchmarks for evaluation and acceptance criteria that are the basis for a program to qualify coating applicators (craft workers). The qualification and certification process is a stepwise achievement process that includes all aspects of surface preparation and coating application for steel and concrete surfaces of complex industrial structures.  This standard is designed to allow the Application Specialist to move through three levels of qualification that include a broad range of classroom instruction and associated work experiences. 

The body of the standard provides the requirements for qualification and certification of an Application Specialist. 

Appendix A (mandatory) defines the competency requirements or the minimum “Body of Knowledge” for each qualification level that provides a basis to allow applicants to achieve qualification in a Certified Application Specialist Program.  Appendix A provides requirements for Section 5 of this standard. 

Appendix B (mandatory) describes the level of competency required for each qualification level.  Appendix B provides required information for use with Appendix A for the development of a learning skills program associated with the Body of Knowledge in Appendix A.

Appendix C (non-mandatory) provides information on desirable workplace skills (reading text, document use, and numeracy) that should be considered by those attempting to both nurture and assess a candidate’s overall skills level. 

Appendix D (non-mandatory) provides a list of acceptable training programs.

Revisions in the 2016 version include clarification of language requirements used for evaluation of the craftworker, changes in requirements for amount of work experience and training, and simplification of the Body of Knowledge requirements.

Stakeholders Value Statement (i.e. How the standard can be used):

The intended audience includes personnel involved in developing education and certification programs for the training and assessment of the skills and knowledge of an Application Specialist or assessing the training and certification programs available either on the open market or from an in-house source. This standard may be used to validate or assess a candidate’s (e.g., an employee’s or potential employee’s) knowledge and skills level based on qualification in a certification program operated under this standard. One of the goals of this standard is to recognize and record in an outline format the minimum overarching elements in the Body of Knowledge as these elements relate to a candidate’s competency levels of learning and skills.

Summary of Revisions:

Replaced terminology:  “Level of Cognition” became “Level of Competency”

Level I Qualification now requires successful demonstration of the ability to read, comprehend, and communicate in the language accepted by the contracting parties. 

  • Demonstration of ability to write has been deleted. 
  • Allows contracting parties to determine the language that will be used for the evaluation.

Level II Qualification no longer requires completion of a 3-year apprenticeship program, requires 3 years of relevant work experience plus 450 hours of verifiable documented craft training. 

Removed Options for:

  • 5 years of related work experience + 5000 hours of work experience + 450 hours of technical training OR
  • 8 years minimum related work experience +8,000 hours of verifiable work experience.

Replaced with Option requiring:

  • 6 years verifiable relevant work experience +
  • Successful completion of Level 1 requirements +
  • Successful completion of Level 2 exam.

Added Level II with Endorsements category (qualifies for Level II plus one or two specialty endorsements, e.g., waterjetting, plural component spray, powder or thermal spray coatings, etc.)

Level III qualification now requires 8 years of verifiable relevant work experience (formerly 5 years) plus successful completion of exam. 

Maintenance of Qualification

  • Need 24 hours (formerly 40 hours) of industry-related training and 500 hours per year relevant work experience OR
  • Successful completion of qualification exam and 500 hours per year relevant work experience

Six levels of competency have been reduced to three, and definitions have changed (see table below):


Competency Requirement 1 (CR1)

Competency Requirement 2 (CR2)

Competency Requirement 3 (CR3)


Possesses Knowledgeand demonstrates Comprehension

Can apply Knowledge and demonstrates the ability to Analyze

Can Evaluate and Synthesize i.e. make judgments, necessary adjustments and plans


Can Imitate a mentor’s activities and is developing the ability to Manipulate after following instructions and practicing

Developing Precision and consistency Articulation minimizing re-work

Actions are Naturalized and second nature not requiring significant forethought

  • Body of Knowledge has been streamlined, and competency levels have been revised to reflect new definitions.
  • A non-mandatory appendix providing examples of acceptable training programs has been added 

Relevant to the following courses:

Relevant to the following other standards:

SSPC Members can download the standard for free in the SSPC MarketPlace or access it via the SSPC Mobile App. Non-members can purchase the standard via the MarketPlace.