Ask the Experts
April 11, 2011

Education Level Prior to IPC Certification

What minimum level of education, and/or skills, are needed before a person should be considered for IPC Certification Training? Would you consider giving a simple math test, or some form of dexterity test, prior to sending employees to one of the IPC skills courses including courses for soldering or rework?

J. J.

Expert Panel Responses

We are asked this question often and sometimes it is difficult to sort out the ambiguity regarding what the customer wants and needs. We've addressed the topic of prerequisites prior to taking any IPC course at the IPC meetings and the conclusion always has been let the training centers work that issue with their customers. From a training perspective however, it is apparent in many of the upper level classes when someone does not have the skills or dexterity needed to properly create a solder joint and since the IPC Certification programs are either knowledge based or skills demonstration based this matter must always be addressed. A common example is the J-STD-001 CIT / CIS program which is a skill demonstration along with a knowledge base format program. This is not a course where a company would or should enroll someone who has never soldered as the requirements for successfully completing the program requires the students to demonstrate their soldering skills in all three technologies, wires and terminals, through hole and surface mount technology. The first step would be to enroll those employees in a beginning program on learning how to solder, from wires and terminals, through plated through and finally through surface mount. Subsequently, they would have the skills necessary to demonstrate and successfully pass the skills portion of the program. Another example of a skill base program is the IPC7711/7721 program which provides instructions on the repair and rework of printed boards. This is an important course from the perspective of the value added which has been added to the product of the customer. It is important that the people who are working on these products have the skills and the knowledge of what to do so as not to create scrap from the inability to repair or rework the product. As for the knowledge based course, the company should address the native language of the people attending the session and make that information known to the instructors who will be conducting the class. There are many options open to the instructor in these cases and the easiest of which is to have an interpreter work with the instructor during the class period or have an instructors who is fluent in that particular language. One course where math could be involved would be the IPC-A-600 program where dimensions and tolerances are frequently used. The ability to distinguish between the various metric (Systems International) vs. Imperial English dimensioning system is difficult concept for many people to grasp and this makes it more difficult when the students are trying to comprehend the system yet be able to apply its concepts to the product being inspected. A basic math course would help clarify and explain these differences, but they are not part of the course curriculum therefore some of the students struggle with the math within the program. So my bottom line is yes I would like to see some basic training in the operators who are being enrolled in the IPC certification course and the success rate would be higher and additionally there would be less stress on the individuals taking the various programs. If anyone would like to discuss this further, please get in touch with me offline

Leo Lambert
Vice President, Technical Director
EPTAC Corporation
At EPTAC Corporation, Mr. Lambert oversees content of course offerings, IPC Certification programs and provides customers with expert consultation in electronics manufacturing, including RoHS/WEEE and lead free issues. Leo is also the IPC General Chairman for the Assembly/Joining Process Committee.

That would be a good test, but some people just have a knack for soldering.

Steve Pollock
Vice President
Essemtec USA
Steven Pollock has worked in the industry for OEMs, and large CMs before moving to application Sales. Pollock has been working in SMT industry for nearly 20 years.
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