IRATA vs IRAANZ – what is best for me?

 In News

We are always asked what’s the difference between IRATA and IRAANZ. The problem with this question is that is hard to answer without blowing your own trumpet as it were. But never the less we are going to attempt it, in the form of some questions and answers!

Is my qualification recognised overseas?

If you have an IRATA International qualification the simple answer to this question is yes; the IRATA Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications are recognised globally.

If you have an IRAANZ COC the first thing you need to know is that this is not a qualification: it is a Certificate Of Competence (COC).

The qualification you hold is an New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) in Rope Access. The IRAANZ COC is an endorsement of that qualification by an association (namely, the Industrial Rope Access ssociation of New Zealand).

It is possible to hold the NZQA in rope access and not hold an IRAANZ COC. The NZQA in rope access is recognised within New Zealand and possible one or two states in Australia only.

Can I work Offshore with my NZQA Qualification?

There is kind of an unwritten rule that says you need your IRATA ticket to work on any and all rope access job on any oil rig. While it is true that most companies that own or work on oil rigs prefer IRATA technicians it is not a legal requirement.

This has come about from audited IRATA Member Companies being the primary operators in the offshore industry. All IRATA Member Companies globally must have Level 3’s supervising each and every job, and only employ IRATA qualified technicians.

What’s the difference between training and assessment?

Ok so we need to address this in two parts: Training and Assessment.

We will start with training first.

Within the IRATA system there are three levels whereas currently the NZQA has two.

All IRATA Level 1’s are taught all the rope access manoeuvres they will need to perform any rope access task throughout their entire career. This includes horizontal aid climbing and a descent rescue.

IRATA Level 2s are taught Ascent Rescue, Vertical Aid climbing and multiple rescues past and through obstacles as well as the installation and use advanced rigging systems at height.

IRATA Level 3s are taught advanced rescue techniques, team management and leadership and an in-depth knowledge of rope access techniques, systems and legislation.

To be eligible to upgrade your qualification, a minimum of 1000 hours of a minimum of 12 months must be attained. Each qualification is valid for a period of 3 years, and must be either upgraded or re-validated within that 3 year cycle to remain current and valid.

Within the NZQA system the two current levels are Level 3 and Level 4.

At the basic or ‘elementary level’ (Level 3) as they call it, candidates are taught ascend, descent and pass obstacles as well as an ascent and descent rescue.

The advanced level (Level 4) learns all forms of aid climbing, and advanced rescue techniques, rigging systems and legislation.

Beyond this; without doing the course finding out what techniques you will learn changes depending on who you talk to.

And now it is on to Assessments!

The two biggest differences between the IRATA system and the NZQA system are that within IRATA you cannot be trained and assessed by the same person, making the assessment independent and unbiased.

IRATA have a standardised assessment which means an IRATA Level 1 trained and assessed in London will be trained and assessed to the exact same criteria that one trained and assessed in Sydney would be.

This is not the case for the NZQA. You will normally be trained and assessed by the same person and the assessment will be different depending on where and who you do your training with.

Some other differences as mentioned above, is that to progress from one level to another within IRATA you need to have 1000 hours logged and signed off in your log book, as well as 12 months’ experience from your last assessment.

NZQA does not require either of these to progress from one level to another. We should point out that the NZQA can take up to two years to complete as there is more than just rope access involved in the qualification. The extra is included to make it a qualification on the national framework.

The NZQA qualification never expires, but the IRAANZ COC requires renewal every 3 years.

IRATA technicians must go through a minimum of four days training and one day of assessment every three years regardless of level or experience to remain qualified.

How do we become members?

Membership for IRATA requires that a company go through a full audit to ensure that the company complies with the IRATA ICOP and TACS.

This consists of a desktop audit followed by a site audit. Provided the company is complient, the company undergoes a year as a Probationary Member, followed by a second full site audit. Provided the company passes this audit, then the company is granted full membership status and will be Audited every three years. This is all conducted by an independent auditor.

An individual IRATA technician is not a member. For more information about IRATA Intnernational Membership, please visit the IRATA website:

IRAANZ membership is not so stringent, to become a member you apply to the committee prove that your company has valid operating procedures and at least one employee with an IRAANZ COC. For more information about becoming a member of IRAANZ, please visit the IRAANZ website:

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