Skip to main content

Wilkinson Coutts & Matthews Integrity Training

Who are we?

WILKINSON COUTTS / MATTHEWS INTEGRITY HUB: an up-to-the-minute information mix designed to help you with your lifework and career development in the asset integrity, inspection and NDE industries.

Matthew Petroleum Notes

The ASME L1/L2 PLANT INSPECTOR Certificate programme


The ASME Plant Inspector programme commenced in the UK in 2003 and was one of the first certificate programmes designed for the in-service inspection/integrity part of the engineering industry. It is subdivided into three levels:

  • ASME Level 1: Plant Inspector
  • ASME Level 2: Senior Plant Inspector
  • ASME Level 3: Principal Plant Inspector/Technical Authority

The ASME Plant Inspector Certificate provides training and certification in the fundamental principles of inspection assessment and management of fixed pressure equipment. Because it is based on sound engineering practices it is of particular relevance to inspection situations in which site practices do not rely exclusively on American Petroleum Institute (API) codes.

Delegates suitable for entering ASME L1 are typically from a background in one or more of the following fields:

  • Plant operator/shift engineer
  • NDE technician
  • Mechanical technician/fitter
  • In-service ‘insurance’ surveyor for small plant
  • New construction ‘source’ inspector for fabricated equipment.

Most delegates come to the course with some level of previous practical engineering background; plant inspection is a practical, rather than an academic subject.



The ASME Plant Inspector certificate examinations can only be taken following the relevant training course from an ASME-authorised training provider (4-5 days as applicable). The exams are taken at the completion of the course and administered by the training provider. For ASME L1 the exam comprises a mixture of open and closed-book questions. For ASME L2 and L3 the emphasis is mainly on descriptive answers to demonstrate the candidate’s technical knowledge and ability to explain this knowledge to others.

The training course will teach you about the subject matter covered, test you using mock exams and so on, and prepare you to take the ASME exam.

ASME L1: Plant Inspector

This is the entry-level course suitable for delegates with basic experience in plant operation, inspection or NDE. Subjects include:

  • Basic material properties
  • Basic inspection and examination principles
  • Piping inspection
  • Pressure vessel inspection
  • Storage tank inspection
  • Heat exchanger inspection
  • Risk-based inspection (RBI)
  • Repairs

ASME L2: Senior Plant Inspector

Most ASME L2 delegates will have previously passed ASME L1 but direct entry is available for delegates who can demonstrate suitable previous inspection experience (outside the field of NDE) and/or recognised engineering qualifications. Subjects include:

  • Pressure equipment design and materials
  • Damage Mechanisms (DMs) and inspection
  • Inspection planning and RBI
  • Principles of fitness for purpose (FFP) assessments
  • Repair selection (mechanical/welding/composite)

The ASME Level 2 content goes into more technical detail to those subjects introduced in ASME Level 1. It is therefore suitable for experienced inspectors and engineers interested in expanding their technical knowledge.

One primary objective of the course is to provide delegates with the knowledge required to compile a written scheme of examination (WSE), rather than just follow a WSE written by someone else. It also covers information required to help make run/repair/replace decisions for equipment items that are damaged. This involves teaching an understanding of the severity and predictability of Damage Mechanisms (DMs) and the principles of fitness for purpose (FFP) studies and repair options for damaged items.

ASME L2 Difficulty

Delegates should not expect ASME L2 to be an easy course and examination. The objective is to teach delegates the knowledge required to make clear decisions on the integrity of potentially dangerous pressure plant. This requires delegates to be keen to learn the principles involved and demonstrate this knowledge in the exam questions. To achieve the ASME L2 course requires delegates to participate in classroom exercises, problems and case studies in order to build up and demonstrate their knowledge.

ASME L3; ‘Technical Authority’

This is the highest technical level which will only be achieved by those demonstrating the ability to act in a ‘technical authority’ capacity in the plant inspection business. Candidates will need to demonstrate the ability to understand detailed FFP concepts, interpret inspection codes, and support their conclusions using calculations and technical explanations.

Wilkinson Coutts Training is based in the UK and Australia and carries out ASME Plant Inspector L1/L2 public and in-house courses worldwide using their ASME-approved trainers.

ASME Plant Inspector L1/L2


ASME/L2 contain reference to some of the codes used in the API 510/570/653 certificate examinations but overall are based more on sound engineering principles than verbatim wording of API codes. ASME L1/L2 also includes references to non-US codes and standards that are not included in the API exam scopes, but which are nevertheless very relevant to the subject of plant integrity.

Both ASME L1 and L2, owing to their exam structure also test candidates’ abilities to demonstrate their knowledge in a subject by technical discussion and explanations rather than just quoting verbatim API code clauses which may not be 100% relevant to a particular plant integrity situation.

Here are some FAQs about the ASME L1 course:

Qu: Is ASME L1 only suitable for Oil & Gas industry inspectors?

Ans: No, ASME L1 teaches general principles that are applicable in all industries that use static pressure equipment. It references some API codes but only because these are documents of good technical practice and can be used equally as effectively in other industries.


Qu: Can I be successful if I don’t have a degree or other higher engineering qualification?

Ans: Yes, most in-service plant inspectors don’t have, or need, a degree


Qu: Are there a lot of calculations in the course?

Ans : No ,this is not a requirement in a well-presented  ASME L1 course. There are a couple of basic calculations about vessel wall thickness and safe pressures but these only involve secondary-school level maths. Most delegates find them straightforward, with the correct instruction.


Qu: Is the ASME L1 course just another NDE course in disguise?

Ans: No, because plant inspection is not the same thing as NDE. Detailed NDE knowledge is useful, but by no means essential to be a successful plant inspector.


Qu: How well is the ASME Plant Inspector certificate recognised overseas?

Ans: Since its inception in the UK in 2003, ASME L1 and L2 delegates have come from more than 10 EU countries, plus Australia, New Zealand Africa, ex-Russian republics, UAE/Gulf states, Canada and many other countries around the world. The certificate is not designed to be applicable in the USA owing to their reliance on the National Board Authorised Inspector (AI)’Commission’ and other state-specific jurisdiction requirements for inspector certification. Some US inspectors do have the ASME L1/L2 Plant Inspector Certificates but they mainly work outside of the USA.


Wilkinson Coutts


If you have any general questions on the content of the ASME L1/L2 Plant Inspector courses and examinations, and whether they would be suitable for you then contact us on

Try the sample test questions for ASME L1/L2 on the ASME L1/L2 technical quiz page.

For details of upcoming ASME L1/L2 course dates and availability see the Wilkinson Coutts website or contact Paul Wilkinson direct on  Tel 07753 8088738

Matthews Integrity Hub: HEAD OFFICE is OPEN EVERY DAY....0730 - 2200 Monday - Sunday...That's correct, all week, every week, including holidays

Contact Matthews Head OfficeIf we happen to miss your call, leave a message and we will call you back just as soon as we pick it up.  Sorry, there's no automated messages, call queueing, voice recognition tools or canned music.  Try it and see.


Tel: 07746 771592