More Facts, Clarifications on Changes to Certification Exams

Suzy Jamieson, ICML

The International Council for Machinery Lubrication is entering its 10th year of operations, having certified more than 5,000 professionals in 67 different countries and through exams in eight languages. There are more than 1,000 companies around the world with ICML-certified personnel. And for more than seven years, ICML has been considered the de facto world standard when it comes to certification of lubrication and oil analysis professionals.

The global recognition of ICML’s credentials and programs is vast; and in 2004, it was proposed to ISO that the council’s work, including its bodies of knowledge for the Machine Lubricant Analyst (MLA) programs, be incorporated into a then-developing standard on certification of field analyst professionals. In 2008, the standard was published with a great approval rating by the member countries. ICML is very honored that its bodies of knowledge for the MLA Level I, MLA Level II and Machine Lubrication Technician (MLT) Level I certifications were pioneered into the first-ever ISO international standard on qualification and assessment of field lubricant analysts. The ICML MLA I and MLA II certification program’s subject areas were brought into ISO 18436-4 as Category II and Category III.

To reflect the equivalence with the ISO 18436-4 standard, ICML recently decided to rename its original MLA I and MLA II certifications as MLA II and MLA III, since MLA I and II are equivalent to categories II and III, respectively, within ISO 18436-4.

MLA Program Changes

ICML’s original top category in the oil analysis track, MLA II, is equivalent to the top category of the 18436-4 standard, Category III, because the ISO version was designed to be a three-tier program, not two tiers like the original ICML program.

ICML’s original MLA I was considered too challenging to be used as an entry-level international standard category, too high a bar for the world as a whole. Therefore, a more basic category was added to the oil analysis series. As it turned out, this entry level was actually based on the MLT I, with some basic oil sampling, basic lubricant health and a general view of wear debris knowledge added, since the standard was for oil analysis, not machinery lubrication alone.

The syllabus of this “modified MLT I”, which is the new MLA I, was accepted by ISO into the 18436-4 for its importance in machine and lubricant knowledge and for being a more basic, suitable entry level for an international standard dealing with the qualification and assessment of field-based oil analysts. So, think of the ISO standard 18436-4 categories I, II and III at ICML as basically the original MLT I plus three oil analysis subject areas (now available through the new MLA I); the original MLA I (now renamed MLA II) and the original MLA II (now renamed MLA III).

MLT Program Changes

The pioneering of the MLT I from a machinery lubrication scope in nature into an oil analysis standard creates a possible overlap in the two career tracks at ICML for individuals interested in both oil analysis and machinery lubrication.

There was some rearranging of percentages on the original MLT I subject areas to make space for adding the needed oil analysis subject areas. However, these are meant to be covered at a very basic, entry level. This means that the new MLA I and the original MLT I have bodies of knowledge that are approximately 80 percent similar in subject area content. Despite this, ICML decided to keep the original MLT I exam available for people interested only in machinery lubrication (not oil analysis) as a career. For those who prefer the choice of both machinery lubrication and oil analysis career tracks/certification, the entry point to both is the new MLA I exam. Granted that a new MLA I certificate holder meets the requirements, he or she can pursue MLA II and then the MLA III or MLT II exam.

As for whether there are plans to add an MLT III, the new MLA III is essentially the original MLA II, just renamed for clarity sake. ICML has not added a higher level to the MLA series and doesn’t envision adding a higher level specific to the MLT series, either. ICML does have plans for and is working on a Machinery Lubrication Engineer (MLE) certification, which targets the person above both the MLT II and original MLA II, now called MLA III. Therefore, the proposed career path would be:

Machinery Lubrication

Field Oil Analysis (18436-4 equivalent)

Mature Student Clause

The alignment with ISO meant ICML now offers a three-tier program on the oil analysis track, where before, entry level was at what is now called the MLA II. However, for the seasoned oil analysis professional, nothing changes.

ICML’s original requirement allowed people with two or more years of full-time experience in oil analysis to sit for the MLA I, now called MLA II. Despite the creation of a more basic entry level to the program (new MLA I), professionals that would have originally qualified to sit for the original MLA I need not take the new MLA I exam as a point of entry, despite the prerequisite now in existence in ISO. You may actually qualify to still enter the ICML oil analysis career path via the same exam, now called MLA Level II. This is possible via a mature student clause. This clause’s intent is to allow the knowledgeable, experienced pro to bypass the training and exam requirements of the prerequisite entry category (new MLA I).

To qualify for exam as a mature student candidate, there are additional experience requirements, which are comparable to ICML’s pre-ISO requirements. There is also the requirement of having a knowledge base in the MLA I’s body of knowledge subject areas. Such knowledge in the MLA I syllabus subject areas, however, need not have been acquired through formal training. On-the-job training and experience are acceptable for demonstrating MLA I knowledge under this mature student clause. Of course, formal training in the MLA II exam body of knowledge would still be required, even for entry under this mature student clause.

For more information on the specifics of ICML’s mature student entry clause for the MLA II program, or if you have any general certification-related questions, e-mail

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