A man is measuring the temperature of the room.

“Getting paid to watch paint dry” is an oversimplification of a coating inspector’s job description. The goal of this article is to dispel such misconceptions and answer the question, “Why is it important to hire an independent coating inspector?”

Keep reading to understand what a coating inspector accomplishes other than “watch paint dry,” and learn the value of choosing an independent or third-party coating inspector to oversee your project.

What Is a Coating Inspector?

Some individuals assume that a coating inspector’s only job is to sit back and watch until the paint dries. If that were the case, then coating inspection is a field anyone can enter. But this industry is more meticulous and complicated than meets the eye.

The best coating inspectors in the United States have undergone rigorous training and passed certification programs, such as the SSPC Master Coatings Inspector and NACE certified Coatings Inspector Programs. These professionals make certain that all coating projects remain compliant and stay within determined specifications.

Coating inspectors have three levels:

Level 1 Coating Inspectors

According to the Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP), a coatings inspector recognizes how corrosion forms and understands the role protective coatings have in preventing corrosion. Level 1 coating inspectors have entry-level knowledge of the techniques for surface preparation and application, coating specification, inspection testing, and documentation.

Level 2 Coating Inspectors

These coating inspectors perform testing and analysis that meet the job specifications, product data sheets, and applicable industry standards. Before preparing and executing a step-by-step inspection plan, the inspector documents all findings in a coherent and comprehensive report for the client to understand the project in its entirety.

Level 3 Coating Inspectors

Senior certified coatings inspectors are highly experienced in surface preparation, test instruments, coating mixtures, environmental conditions, cleanliness, and safety concerns. Unlike Level 1 and Level 2 inspectors, they are adept at undertaking non-destructive inspections without supervision. They also possess technical knowledge and problem-solving abilities to address any issues that emerge on the job site.

What Is the Difference Between Quality Assurance and Quality Control?

According to the American Society for Quality (ASQ), both quality control and quality assurance are aspects of quality management. However, they have different objectives.

What Is Quality Assurance?

ASQ defines quality assurance (QA) as “the part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.” In relation to industrial coatings, an independent or third-party inspector performs hold-point inspections during the coating process to ensure and certify the project.

What Is Quality Control?

ASQ defines quality control (QC) as “the part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements.” In the world of coatings, the person in charge of quality control is the painter or project supervisor tasked with checking and inspecting the coating process.

In some projects, an independent coatings inspector may perform both quality assurance and quality control tasks.

Coating Inspectors Are Project Managers and Job Enforcers

The coating inspector is responsible for quality management. As such, they are the first ones blamed in the rare event that something goes wrong with a project. An inspector once said that aside from the safety guy, he was “the most hated man on the job site” because of this notion.

Many perceive inspectors as the enemy holding up work or delaying projects because they spot issues that require rework. This goes back to the oversimplification that a coating inspector’s entire job is to ensure whatever requires painting is painted correctly.

In some cases, an inspector can delay a project if they have poor communication skills, which impacts working relationships with the coating contractors, engineers, general contractors, and asset owners involved in the project. After all, an inspector must uphold the job specification and applicable standards, as well as report any deficiencies. The inspector should also be approachable and detail-oriented because, ultimately, their role is to enforce the job specification.


There is so much more to an AMPP-certified coatings inspector than “watching paint dry.” The profession is associated with several tasks that someone without the appropriate training can’t fulfill. An independent, certified coatings inspector acts as the quality management system that ensures your coating project is completed accurately and without delays.

Hire Certified Corrosion Prevention Experts

We are NACE-SSPC-Certified inspection professionals delivering comprehensive services to industrial and commercial clients across the United States and around the world. Contact us today for complete coating inspection services for all industries.

Coating Defect found on FBE coated Pump Can during QA Process
Coating Defect found on FBE coated Pump Can during QA Process

Works Cited