certification programs

Water-Based Systems Layout

All Water-Based System Layout exams are currently available and updated exams will be available in 2024. Learn more.

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The Water-Based Systems Layout certification program is for engineering technicians engaged in the layout and detailing of water-based systems that must meet code and statutory requirements. Areas covered include plan and submittal preparation, applications of various types of water-based systems, equipment selection and application, and technical management of layout projects. Technical areas covered include types of water-based systems and their components; water supply requirements; hydraulics; building features, hazards, and occupancy considerations; system installation, inspection, and maintenance requirements; applicable codes and standards; and contract administration.

Successful candidates must pass an exam or exams, complete a work history description that documents and meets specific industry related experience, successfully perform key role specific activities, and obtain a personal recommendations (Levels III and IV). Once earned, certification must be maintained through Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and recertified every three years.

General Requirements for Certification

Water-Based Systems Layout comprises four levels of certification.

  • Level I is designed for trainees and entry-level technicians who perform limited job tasks under frequent supervision.
  • Level II is for technicians who perform routine tasks under general daily supervision.
  • Level III is for technicians who can work independently with standards, plans, and specifications to produce complete plans for typical/standard systems for approval.
  • Level IV is for senior-level technicians whose work includes complex or specialized systems and supervision of others.

Certification requirements for each Level build on those of lower Levels: Certification at Levels II, III, or IV does not require prior certification at the lower level, but it does require that the certification requirements of the lower levels have been met.

The Water-Based Systems Layout exam is delivered on a computer at Pearson Vue Testing Centers. Computer-based testing (CBT) allows NICET to extend several benefits to our customers: more flexible exam dates and appointment times; immediate scheduling and confirmation; and quicker exam scoring. For more information about taking the Standard Model exam, please click here.


Currently, NICET is in the process of updating the Water-Based Systems Layout exams to be released by summer 2024. Below is a summary of exam details that will take effect sometime in the 2nd quarter of 2024. More details to come. (Note: The information below will be updated as the exams are finalized.)

Coming Soon in Summer 2024
Water-Based Systems Layout Exams
Level I Exam 104 questions Reference List (draft)
Content Outline (draft)
Level II Exam 120 questions Reference List (draft)
Content Outline (draft)
Level III – General Coming Soon Coming Soon
Level III – Hydraulics Coming Soon Coming Soon
Level IV Exam Coming Soon Coming Soon

The major responsibilities, tasks, knowledge, and skills associated with each level of certification and serves as the outline of exam content.

Level I 
Level II 
Level III
Level IV

Listing of references allowed in testing centers and some books that might be useful in preparing for an exam. 

Level I 
Level II 
Level III General Plans Preparation
Level III Hydraulics and Water Supply Planning
Level IV
Title Page - Edit and print this page with the information about the reference, according to the standard

Water-Based Systems Layout Standard Model/CBT Application

Level I $230
Level II $300
Level III
General Plan Preparation
Hydraulics and Water Supply
Level IV $410

Rescheduling you NICET exam has never been easier and in most cases does not incur any additional fees. Additional fees may apply if rescheduling is attempted within 24 hours of the appointment time, the eligibility window expires, or there is less than 24 hours until the eligibility expires.

The best way to reschedule your exam is to login to your NICET account and “click “Schedule in the left side navigation then “Schedule with Pearson VUE” for the exam you want to reschedule.

Schedule with Pearson VUE

Then click the exam name to view the appointment then “Reschedule” on the right side of the screen.

Caution: Just like the original scheduling process there are several screens, agreements, and confirmations. The process is not complete until you click the “Confirm Reschedule” button, see the notice: “Your Appointment is Rescheduled” and receive a confirmation email. Failure to complete the process and missing your appointment does incur a rescheduling fee.

You may also call Pearson VUE at 1-866-880-0048 to reschedule. However, significant wait times can occur.

Candidates who are testing using the online remote proctored (ONVUE) option may rescheduling their appointment date/time right up until their appointment without incurring additional fees. Just follow the same process as detailed above.

What is the Test Like?

The exam will be administered on a computer at a proctored test center managed by a test administration company. These exams are normally closed book; any exception to this policy will be stated in the test information for that program. The content outline for the program will serve as the guide to what will be covered on the test.

Each test session begins with a tutorial allowing you to get used to the process. During the test, you will see one question at a time, but can move forward or backwards to view or review other questions. Some questions include a graphic or document to be viewed by clicking on the exhibit button. Exhibits may be in color. Correct answers will usually be selected by clicking the boxes next to the answers. In a few questions, you may be presented a picture and asked to click on the part of the picture that correctly answers the question. Questions may have more than one correct answer, but in those cases, you will be told how many answers to choose. You will receive your score at the conclusion of your test session.

To apply, click here.


You will be required to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) to begin your examination. Failure to accept will result in a failed score and fee’s will be forfeited. The NDA that will be displayed is:

“You must accept the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) below in order to take this exam.

I understand that NICET tests and test questions are owned and copyrighted by NICET and affirm that I will not share the content of any NICET examination with any other person. I acknowledge that divulging the contents of this examination to others in any manner is expressly forbidden and may subject me to sanctions.”

Water-Based Systems Layout Exams
Level I Exam 101 questions, 150 min.
Level II Exam 119 questions, 225 min.
Level III: General Plan Preparation Exam 64 questions, 170 min.
Level III: Hydraulics and Water Supply Planning Exam 55 questions, 230 min.
Level IV Exam 77 questions, 240 min.*

Your appointment time will be 10 minutes longer to cover an introductory tutorial section before your exam begins. Any unused time will NOT extend the time allotted for answering exam questions.

*This exam contains a 20-minute break. This time is NOT part of the allotted time to answer exam questions.



A calculator is built into the exam. Please see the CBT Calculator Preview for information about the onscreen calculator. Candidates may not bring any additional calculators into the testing room.

Applicants with a disability as defined in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act who may be placed at a disadvantage when taking a NICET certification examination may request a testing accommodation by contacting test@nicet.org prior to scheduling testing. Each request will be evaluated individually and every effort will be made to offer reasonable accommodations to qualifying applicants. There will be no additional charges to qualifying applicants for these accommodations. NICET will contact the applicant to arrange a mutually suitable accommodation.