QP Programs


QP Program FAQ for Contractors


How does SSPC evaluate a contractor for certification?


To become certified, the contractor or shop must:

  • complete a detailed application form describing its company and its work history;
  • submit quality control, safety and environmental compliance programs and procedures;
  • obtain SSPC acceptance of its submittal to ensure the submitted items are based on SSPC QP 1, QP 2 and QP 3 requirements;
  • avail itself to an on-site audit by a SSPC auditor to both its primary place of business and an active job site to demonstrate its capabilities;
  • comply with a rigorously enforced disciplinary action code (field contractors only).

How many owners in the USA require SSPC's Painting Contractor Certification Program?

Currently, many State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) require SSPC certification for bridge maintenance and other painting. Within those states are many major city DOT's and county governments that require the PCCP as well for bridge, water tank, and waste and water treatment facilities requiring maintenance painting. Certification is also frequently specified on a one-time per job basis by specifiers who do not have ongoing painting programs. SSPC certification is also specified by many private owners, and its use in the private sector continues to grow.


How long does it take for a contractor to achieve certification?

It usually takes 1-2 months from the time the contractor submits its application to the time the SSPC audit is complete. However, it can take longer if the contractor's application or submittal is incomplete or needs clarification, or if the audit must be delayed to accommodate the contractor's project work schedules. The SSPC auditor must be able to observe the contractor or shop performing bona fide work for a customer.


What is the cost of certification to the contractor?

Certification fees for the field contractor run from $5-8K the first year and $2-4K to maintain certification each year thereafter. All practicing contractors are eligible for SSPC certification, but only SSPC member contractors are eligible for discounts. The QP 1 and QP 2 audits can be done at the same time provided the QP 1 portion of the evaluation is done first in the sequence. This can significantly reduce the contractor's audit costs. Shop certification fees are lower and run from 3-4K the first year.


Which contractors are eligible for SSPC contractor certification?

All industrial painting contractors and shops, regardless of size, volume of work, markets worked in or affiliations, are eligible for SSPC certification provided they can demonstrate a six month production history of compliance with SSPC QP 1, and QP 2, and/or QP 3 requirements prior to their initial evaluation. The lists of SSPC certified contractors and shops include large, medium and small businesses; those that paint bridges, storage tanks, structural steel or a variety of complex industrial structures, and those who may be minority or women owned.


Must a contractor be QP 1 certified to become QP 2 certified? What about QP 3?

Yes. The contractor must first demonstrate knowledge of the basics of surface preparation and painting (QP 1) to become QP 2 certified. However, you do not have to be QP 1 or QP 2 certified to become QP 3 certified.


Why does SSPC want to see my tax return and other confidential financial information?

SSPC only needs to verify legal identifiability, insurance coverage and the fact that the applicant follows accepted accounting practices and estimating procedures. The financial information contained on such documents is of no interest to SSPC and has no bearing on the outcome of the audit. In fact, we suggest the contractor "white out" those specific details to avoid any misunderstandings.