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Top 11 Utility Locator Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for utility locators and guidance on how to obtain them.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 16 min read

Certifications are important for utility locators in the job market because they demonstrate a level of knowledge and expertise that employers look for when hiring. Certified utility locators have obtained their credentials through a recognized organization, such as the APWA or ICC, and have taken courses to learn about safety practices, equipment usage, mapping techniques, and other topics related to the profession. In addition to providing evidence of professional proficiency, certifications also increase an individual’s credibility with employers and can help them stand out from other applicants in a competitive job market.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Utility Locators and explain how they can help advance a utility locator's career.

What are Utility Locator Certifications?

Utility locator certification is a certification program that provides training and testing for individuals who are responsible for locating underground utilities. This certification is required by many states in order to locate utilities such as gas, electric, water, cable, telephone and other services.

The certification helps to ensure that the individual has the knowledge and skills necessary to properly locate underground utilities. It also helps to ensure that the locator can accurately identify any potential hazards associated with locating these utilities. By having certified professionals conducting utility locates, it reduces the chance of accidents or injuries due to incorrect identification or excavation of a utility line. In addition, it also helps protect property from unnecessary damage due to incorrect excavation.

Finally, obtaining utility locator certification gives a locator an edge when competing for jobs in their field since they have been trained and tested on their knowledge and skills related to utility location.

Pro Tip: Make sure to familiarize yourself with the local utility locator certification requirements in your area before starting any excavation work. This will ensure that you are working safely and are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Related: What does a Utility Locator do?

Top 11 Utility Locator Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Utility Locators today.

1. National Utility Locator Certification (NULC)

National Utility Locator Certification (NULC) is a certification program that provides individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely and accurately locate underground utilities. This certification is designed to help ensure that utility locators are properly trained and qualified to perform accurate utility locating services.

The NULC certification process consists of two parts: an online training course, which covers topics such as safety, regulations, equipment operation, and best practices; and a field-testing component where the individual must demonstrate their ability to accurately locate underground utilities. The online course typically takes about 10 hours to complete, while the field-testing component typically takes 2-3 hours.

To get certified, individuals must first complete the online training course. Once they have successfully completed the course, they can then register for the field-testing component. The cost of the NULC certification program varies depending on location but typically ranges from $200-$400 USD.

2. National Association of Utility Locating Contractors (NAULC) Certification

The National Association of Utility Locating Contractors (NAULC) is a non-profit organization that provides certification to utility locating contractors. This certification ensures that utility locating contractors have the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and accurately locate underground utilities.

To become certified, applicants must complete an application form, pass a written examination, and submit proof of experience in the utility locating industry. The written exam covers topics such as safety regulations, technical skills, and industry standards.

It typically takes about six months for an applicant to complete the process and become certified by NAULC. The cost of the certification varies depending on the applicant’s experience level; however, it generally ranges from $500-$1,000 USD.

3. Underground Utility Locator Certification (UULCC)

Underground Utility Locator Certification (UULCC) is a certification program that demonstrates an individual’s ability to identify and locate underground utilities. This certification is designed to ensure the safety of workers and the public by providing a standard for locating and marking buried utility lines.

The certification process typically takes two days, depending on the individual’s experience level. The first day includes classroom instruction, which covers topics such as safety, basic utility locating principles, and how to use various equipment. The second day consists of an exam in which the applicant must demonstrate their knowledge of these topics through practical exercises.

To get certified, individuals must complete an application form and submit it to their local utility locator organization or other certifying body. The cost of the certification varies depending on the organization issuing it, but typically ranges from $100-$200 USD.

Once certified, individuals are required to renew their certification every three years in order to maintain their credentials. Renewal fees may also apply.

4. International Society of Professional Utility Locators (ISPUL) Certification

The International Society of Professional Utility Locators (ISPUL) is a professional organization that provides certification for utility locators. This certification is designed to ensure that utility locators have the necessary knowledge and skills to safely and accurately locate underground utilities.

To obtain ISPUL certification, applicants must pass a written exam as well as a practical field test. The written exam covers topics such as safety, regulations, equipment operation and use, and locating techniques. The practical field test requires applicants to demonstrate their ability to accurately locate underground utilities using appropriate equipment.

The entire process typically takes around one month from start to finish. To get started, applicants must first register with ISPUL and pay the application fee of $125 USD. After registering, applicants will receive an email with instructions on how to access the online training materials and exams. Once all requirements are met, applicants will be issued their ISPUL certification.

The cost of obtaining ISPUL certification can vary depending on the applicant’s location and other factors such as travel expenses or additional training courses required by the applicant’s employer or state/provincial regulations.

5. American Public Works Association (APWA) Certified Utility Locator

The American Public Works Association (APWA) Certified Utility Locator is a certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated proficiency in the locating of underground utilities. The APWA Certified Utility Locator Program is based on industry standards, and it provides a formal recognition of an individual’s knowledge and skills in the utility location process.

It typically takes about 8-12 months to complete the certification process. To become certified, applicants must first attend an APWA approved training course, which covers topics such as safety, regulations, equipment operation, and best practices for utility location. After completing the course, applicants must pass a written exam to demonstrate their understanding of the material. Finally, applicants must submit proof of experience in the form of documented work hours or letters from employers verifying their experience in utility location.

The cost of becoming an APWA Certified Utility Locator varies depending on where you take your training course and how much experience you have prior to taking it. Generally speaking, most courses range from $500-$1000 USD for tuition and materials. In addition to this fee, there may be additional costs associated with taking the written exam or submitting proof of experience.

6. National Groundwater Association (NGA) Certified Utility Locator

The National Groundwater Association (NGA) Certified Utility Locator is a certification program designed to recognize individuals who have the knowledge and skills necessary to accurately locate underground utilities. This certification is intended for individuals who are responsible for locating and marking underground utility lines in order to protect them from damage during construction or other activities.

In order to become certified, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as safety procedures, laws and regulations, locating equipment, and other related topics. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and takes approximately two hours to complete. Applicants must also submit a work history form that shows at least one year of experience in the field of utility location.

The cost of the NGA Certified Utility Locator certification varies depending on the applicant’s experience level. For those with no experience in utility location, the cost is $150 USD; for those with up to five years of experience, it is $200 USD; and for those with more than five years of experience, it is $250 USD.

Once all requirements have been met, applicants will receive their certification within four weeks after submitting their application materials.

7. OSHA 10-Hour Construction Safety Training Course for Utility Locators

The OSHA 10-Hour Construction Safety Training Course for Utility Locators is a comprehensive training program designed to provide utility locators with the knowledge and skills necessary to work safely in the construction industry. This course covers topics such as hazard recognition and avoidance, personal protective equipment, fall protection, scaffolding safety, material handling, excavation safety, ladder safety, and more. It also includes an introduction to OSHA standards and regulations related to construction safety.

The course typically takes 10 hours to complete. It can be taken online or in-person at an approved training center. The cost of the course varies depending on where it is taken; however, most courses range from $100-$200 per person.

In order to receive a course completion card after completing the course, students must pass a written exam at the end of the course. Upon successful completion of the exam, students will receive their OSHA 10-Hour Construction Safety Training Course for Utility Locators card which is valid for five years from the date of issue.

8. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Certified Utility Locator

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Certified Utility Locator is a professional certification program that provides recognition to individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and proficiency in the field of underground utility location. The certification program is designed to ensure that individuals who are performing utility locating services are qualified and knowledgeable in the safety, legal, and technical aspects of their work.

To become ASCE Certified Utility Locator, an individual must complete an approved training course and pass a written exam. The training course typically takes two or three days to complete and covers topics such as safety, legal requirements, equipment operation, data collection methods, and interpreting results. After successfully completing the training course, applicants must pass a written exam with a score of 70% or higher.

The cost for the ASCE Certified Utility Locator certification varies depending on the provider offering the training course. Generally speaking, the cost for the training course ranges from $500-$1000 USD. In addition to this cost, applicants must also pay a one-time fee of $50 USD for processing their application and taking the written exam.

Once an individual has completed all requirements for becoming an ASCE Certified Utility Locator they will receive their certificate within 4-6 weeks after passing their exam. The certification is valid for three years before it must be renewed by completing additional continuing education courses or retaking the written exam.

9. American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Certified Utility Locator

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Certified Utility Locator is a certification program that provides utility locators with the necessary knowledge and skills to safely locate underground utilities. The certification is designed to ensure that utility locators have the knowledge and skills needed to properly identify, mark, and protect buried utilities while on the job.

The ASTM Certified Utility Locator program consists of two parts: an online course and an in-person exam. The online course covers topics such as safety, locating techniques, equipment use, marking procedures, and more. The course takes approximately 10 hours to complete. After completing the online course, applicants must pass an in-person exam administered by a certified instructor.

To get ASTM Certified Utility Locator certification, applicants must first register for the ASTM Certified Utility Locator program through ASTM’s website. Applicants then pay a fee of $250 USD for the online course and exam. Once registered, applicants will receive access to the online course materials as well as instructions on how to schedule their in-person exam.

Once applicants have successfully completed both parts of the program they will be awarded an ASTM Certified Utility Locator certificate valid for three years from the date of issue.

10. National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) Certified Utility Locator

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) Certified Utility Locator certification is a program that certifies individuals to locate underground utilities. This certification is designed to ensure that utility locators are properly trained and qualified to safely locate underground utilities.

To become certified, applicants must pass an exam administered by the NFPA. The exam consists of both written and practical components, and covers topics such as locating techniques, safety procedures, and regulations. The written portion of the exam takes approximately two hours to complete and the practical portion takes approximately four hours.

In order to be eligible for the certification, applicants must have at least three years of experience in utility locating or have completed a recognized training program in utility locating. Applicants must also submit proof of completion of at least 40 hours of continuing education related to utility locating within the past five years.

The cost for taking the NFPA Certified Utility Locator exam is $350 USD per applicant. Once certified, applicants will need to renew their certification every three years by submitting proof of 40 hours of continuing education related to utility locating during that time period.

11. International Code Council (ICC) Certified Utility Locator

The International Code Council (ICC) Certified Utility Locator is a certification program that provides utility locators with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely and accurately locate buried underground utilities. This certification is designed to help protect public safety, reduce property damage, and promote environmental protection.

It typically takes around two months to obtain the ICC Certified Utility Locator certification. To get certified, applicants must first complete an online training course, then pass a written exam. The cost of the training course varies depending on the provider, but generally ranges from $200-$400. After passing the exam, applicants must submit proof of completion of the training course and a copy of their valid driver’s license or state ID card for verification. Once approved, applicants will receive their ICC Certified Utility Locator certificate in the mail within four weeks.

The cost of the exam itself is $150 for ICC members and $200 for non-members. There may also be additional fees associated with taking the exam such as proctoring fees or travel expenses if you are taking it at a testing center outside your local area.

Do You Really Need a Utility Locator Certificate?

Whether or not you need a utility locator certificate depends on the type of work that you do. If you are a professional working in the field of excavation, construction, landscaping, or any other type of outdoor work where there is a risk of damaging underground utilities, then it is likely that you will need to obtain a utility locator certificate. This is because these types of activities can cause serious damage to underground utility systems and require special training in order to avoid such damages.

Having a utility locator certificate demonstrates that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to safely identify and locate utilities before beginning any excavation or construction work. It also shows that you are aware of the potential hazards associated with this type of activity and have taken steps to mitigate those risks. Furthermore, having this certification may be required by employers or local regulations in order to legally perform certain types of work.

In summary, whether or not you need a utility locator certificate depends on what kind of work you do and whether your employer or local laws require it for legal compliance. If either is true for your situation, then obtaining one is highly recommended in order to ensure safe and responsible practices when performing any kind of excavation or construction work near underground utilities.

Related: Utility Locator Resume Examples

FAQs About Utility Locator Certifications

1. What is a Utility Locator Certification?

Answer: A Utility Locator Certification is a certification that verifies an individual has the necessary knowledge and skills to safely locate underground utilities.

2. How do I become certified as a Utility Locator?

Answer: To become certified as a Utility Locator, you must complete a course in utility locating and pass an exam that tests your knowledge of the material.

3. What topics are covered in the certification exam?

Answer: The certification exam typically covers topics such as safety protocols, locating techniques, damage prevention regulations, and other related topics.

4. Are there any prerequisites for taking the certification exam?

Answer: Generally there are no prerequisites for taking the certification exam; however, some providers may require that you have prior experience or training in utility locating before taking the test.

5. How long does it take to become certified?

Answer: The amount of time it takes to become certified varies depending on how much prior experience or training you have in utility locating and how quickly you can complete the coursework and pass the exam.