An IPC certification is not a single badge of recognition that upgrades your career anywhere in the electronics manufacturing industry. There are different types of IPC certifications, and knowing what they are will help you plan for your electronics career more efficiently.
Get in touch with a learning center offering industry-recognized IPC training near me to help you determine your career path.
IPC Certification Levels
IPC certifications come in various levels and what you’ll choose will depend on how you want to be a part of the electronics manufacturing industry.
Certified IPC Specialist (CIS)
The CIS is the most common IPC certification level since it’s essentially the gateway for individuals who want to upgrade their career and boost their credentials in the electronics manufacturing industry.
In essence, people who need to have consistent knowledge and application of a specific electronics manufacturing standard in their line of work should consider going through the relevant CIS training and certification programs. These individuals include the following:
- Quality engineers
- Line operators
- General engineers
The CIS training is a modular course where students have to complete mandatory modules while selecting the optional modules based on what’s appropriate or applicable in their career within the technology and electronics industry. Each program is overseen by the Technical Training Committee that defines whether a course module is mandatory or optional.
To ensure getting high quality, relevant training, get your certification from a well-established and authorized IPC training center.
When an addendum is published for any IPC standard that individuals have an IPC certification for, training and examination is also required. A certification to the IPC standard is required for students to get certified for the addendum. For example, before obtaining the IPC/WHMA-A-620 Space Addendum CIS certification, the candidate must possess an active IPC/WHMA-A-620 CIS certification.
The certificates for CIS holders contain the endorsement blocks for every module. The validity date of the certification is based on when the mandatory modules were completed, and this date applies to the optional modules regardless of when training and certification of these optional modules were obtained.
Certified Standards Expert (CSE)
Professionals with CSE training and certifications are considered subject-matter experts with high-level comprehension of specific IPC standards or set of standards. In essence, they act as consultants for electronics manufacturing companies to ensure processes and products meet the industry-recognized standards.
The role of CSEs can differ from one company to another. In any case, an employed professional with CSE qualifications can perform the following tasks:
- Serves as the subject-matter expert for the company and its departments in terms of IPC standards
- Acts as a liaison between the company and the IPC organization or industry specialists in terms of clarifying industry standards
- Ensures the company is up to date with the industry standards and best practices
- Interacts with process engineers and designers to create assembly procedures in line with IPC standards
- Mediates conflicting opinions arising within the company related to acceptable conditions
- Provides feedback to IPC standards committee on updated operating procedures for inclusion to the standards
CSE holders can also become independent consultants serving multiple organizations in the electronics industry. They are not authorized, however, to train and certify other individuals for CIS qualifications.
CSEs are considered Senior Standards Expert (SCSE) if they hold an active CSE certification with at least 3 IPC standards endorsements and with a decade of experience in the electronics industry in a role that regularly applies IPC standards.
Ensure obtaining authentic CSE qualification by training only with an IPC-authorized learning center offering IPC training near me.
Certified IPC Trainer (CIT)
As the name suggests, CIT holders are qualified to train and administer the CIS certification examination to individuals who aspire to get IPC certified. The CIT training and certification program is an ideal option for individuals who want to start a career in the electronics manufacturing industry and have the passion for teaching.
IPC-certified trainers have a variety of options for their careers, including the following:
- An organization’s in-house IPC trainers handling individuals only within the company
- Independent IPC trainers and/or consultants serving multiple companies in the electronics industry
- Faculty members of community colleges, technical schools and other education and learning institutions
- Members of a Licensed IPC Training Center
The CIT course offered by an authorized IPC training center essentially includes the necessary materials for conducting CIS training. It also comes with train-the-trainer instructions to ensure full understanding of the IPC standards and to impart the proper techniques and correct knowledge to the CIS students.
IPC staff or Master IPC Trainers (MITs) may periodically observe any CIT holder during class instruction in order to ensure and maintain high quality instruction.
Professionals with expired CIT certifications are not allowed to conduct CIS training or purchase CIS training materials. Furthermore, the CIT can only train CIS candidates for the standards endorsements and/or addendums that he/she is certified for.
Master IPC Trainer (MIT)
CITs have the option to upgrade their career with MIT certifications. However, only CITs currently employed by or contracted to an IPC-approved certification and training center can have the MIT designation. In essence, this designation is not an independent certification and it only applies to IPC training centers seeking to have an MIT in their institution. Once the candidate ceases to be employed by the IPC training center, the MIT designation is revoked.
Professionals with MIT designations can perform the following:
- Proctors IPC certification exams for CIS, CIT and CSE candidates on both standards and optional modules
- Conducts CIS and CIT training in accordance with IPC-authorized training materials
- Provides first-level administrative and technical support to their CIT and CIS trainees
Similarly to CITs, MITs can only train and proctor examinations for the standards and addendums that they’re certified for.
IPC Certification Endorsements
The IPC standards are loaded with jargon that is conveniently understood by anyone in the electronics industry. However, if you only say you’re “IPC certified,” professionals won’t have an immediate idea of what you’re capable of. On the other hand, if you say you’re “IPC-certified for J-STD-001,” anyone in the electronics industry (whether they’re employers, vendors or clients) will know that you’re knowledgeable in recognizing, performing and assessing high-quality and industry-accepted soldered interconnections whether they’re leaded or lead-free.
The following are the IPC standard endorsements you can obtain:
- J-STD-001 Endorsement covers the requirements for soldered electrical and electronic assemblies
- IPC-A-600 Endorsement covers the quality standards for printed circuit board (PCB) workmanship
- IPC-A-610 Endorsement covers the acceptability standards of electronic assemblies
- IPC/WHMA-A-620 Endorsement covers the acceptability standards of cable and wire harness assemblies
- IPC-7711 & IPC-7721 Endorsement encompasses both the rework of electronic assemblies and the repair/modification of printed circuit boards and assemblies
- IPC-6012 Endorsement covers the qualification and performance specification of rigid printed boards
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