I’ve been working as a Radiation Surveyor (Safety Officer) for the past seven years. I am now considering writing either the CRPA(R) exam or the National Registry of Radiation Protection Technologists (NRRPT) exam, which I believe is also recognized in Canada. Can you please tell me, what are the differences between the two exams and which one would best be suited for me? My goals are to become more versatile and be able to work in different environments, whether it be reactors, hospitals or mines for example.

Congratulations on your decision to further your qualification in radiation protection. You asked which qualification you should pursue; RRPT or CRPA(R). The short answer is, both! There is a great deal of common ground between the exams and studying for one will definitely help you prepare for the other.  The exams are similar in content and level of difficulty, but the focus tends to be slightly different, with more emphasis on the nuclear power industry in the NRRPT exam and more general content relevant to a broader range of RP applications in the CRPA(R) exam.

Assuming you want to choose, or at least decide which to pursue first, here’s some things to consider.

The CRPA(R) Exam

The Canadian Radiation Protection Association is our national association for furthering radiation safety inCanada.  Since 2005, the CRPA has offered an annual Registration exam. Successful candidates are given the designation Radiation Safety Professional. The exam is based on a competency profile approved by the CRPA membership, which addresses: radiation safety program administration, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and RP Regulations, licences, working rules, record keeping, employee qualifications, inspections audits and investigations, exposure and dose control, instrumentation and equipment, inventory management (including transportation), personnel dosimetry, contamination control and emergency procedures. There are approximately 40 people who have completed the exam and are now designated by the CRPA as Radiation Safety Professionals. The exam is offered annually at the CRPA conference.

The NRRPT Exam:

The NRRPT (US) was founded in 1976 for the express purpose of advancing the competency of Radiation Protection Technologists. The exam is designed to be relevant to a broad range of fields.  Both the current Board and the Exam Panel include members from many sectors including: nuclear power, national labs (DOE), decommissioning, medical, university, environmental contractors and others. To date, over 5000 people have successfully completed the exam and become “Registrants” of the NRRPT.  While the focus is on RP Techs, the exam has been written by people from many other fields, such as Health Physicists, ALARA managers and RSO’s. The exam is designed to test competency in applied radiation protection, detection and measurement, and fundamentals. The standard for qualification is a competent technologist with five years of experience (and training) who has studied for the exam.

Since 2006, a Canadian version of the exam has been offered. It was designed with assistance from Ontario Power Generation and Bruce Power, in order to provide an objective third party standard for their personnel and for contract RP staff brought in for maintenance.   While it was felt that the NRRPT exam was an appropriate standard, much of the content related to US standards and regulations that were not relevant in Canada. There are 22 Registrants who have passed the Canadian version of the exam. The exam is offered whenever there is sufficient demand.


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