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QP 3

SSPC QP3 Certification Program
(Shop Painting Certification Program)

The requirements for SSPC QP3SM are similar to those for SSPC QP1SM, except they are specifically focused on shop coating operations. SSPC QP3SM is an internationally recognized program that evaluates the practices of shop painting facilities in key areas of business. These standards are considered to be the MINIMUM level of service and quality for today's coatings industry. The complex nature of coating systems, the specific conditions and surface preparation required by these systems, have made the QP 3 guidelines vital to the longevity of protective coatings applied in the shop.

QP 3 is segmented according to the type of shop:

  • Enclosed Shop - A permanent facility, enclosure or building (four walls to grade and a roof) where surface preparation and coating activities are normally conducted in an environment not subject to outdoor weather conditions and/or blowing dust.
  • Covered Shop - A permanent facility, enclosure or building having a roof beneath where surface preparation and coating activities are normally conducted out of direct exposure to outdoor weather.
  • Open Shop - A permanent area or facility with no roof or walls where surface preparation and coating activities are normally conducted. The area or facility is exposed to outdoor weather conditions and blowing dust.


To be certified by SSPC to QP-3, blast and coat shops must demonstrate competence in several key areas:

  • Management Procedures
  • Management Responsibility
  • Technical Capabilities
  • Quality Control
  • Health, Safety and Environmental Compliance
  • Contract and project specification review
  • Document and data control
  • Control of quality records
  • Purchasing
  • Process control
  • Inspection and testing
  • M&TE

Blast and coat shops are evaluated through a series of submittals to SSPC, which describe business operations. Then an impartial, on-site audit is performed at the contractor's headquarters and shop locations to verify the information provided in the application submittals.

More on-site audit information can be found in both the QP 3 Application and the Internal Audit Checklist. SSPC suggests that the shop perform a self-evaluation using the checklist to be sure all areas are addressed prior to an audit.

This joint standard for certification of paint shops merges the requirements of the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Sophisticated Paint Endorsement (SPE) and the SSPC-QP 3 standard into a single qualification standard that is used by both organizations. Each organization will continue to manage its own qualification program, auditing shops against the joint standard and using the same audit criteria. AISC will certify shops currently qualified as AISC Certified fabrication or manufacturing facilities.  SSPC will certify all other paint shop facilities. 

Owners should be aware that SSPC and AISC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in June 2016 to continue joint development and use of AISC-420-10/SPE-SSPC QP3 Certification Standard for Shop Application of Complex Protective Systems.

Additional Information can be Found in the QP Applications, Forms & DAC box on the left side of this page: 

  • Applications / Program Rules for QP-3 certification
  • QP-3 audit checklist
  • Certification maintenance applications
  • CAP (Corrective Action Form)
  • Control of non-conformities & corrective action
  • DAC