Certification vs. Inspection - what's the difference?


  • Looks at end product.
  • Often referred to as quality control - quality is “inspected in".
  • Finding non-conformances post-production can be costly to fix.


  • Evaluates the processes and procedures used to manufacture the product.
  • Characterized by a quality assurance or total quality approach to controlling errors and non-conformances.
  • Quality is “built in”.

Inspection and Certification are different. Certification looks at processes and procedures, while inspection looks at product. Inspection requirements are based on the engineer's project-specific quality needs - maybe the geometry is unique or the connections are difficult to make. Some engineers specify both when working with an unfamiliar fabricator or when their project is particularly complex, such as a high-rise or stadium.

Just as experienced builders measure twice and cut once, experienced engineers specify quality going into a project rather than inspecting for it afterwards. Remember, you can only build quality in, you can't inspect it in.

Related Files

Learn more about the differences between certification and inspection. (PDF File)