You’re looking to switch careers. But you have no idea where to look. However, you have a general interest in engineering. You’re also interested in technology.
Then, you come across an online job posting about an NDT technician role. It says the company will train the right employee. You don’t know what NDT means.
But you’re intrigued by the entry-level position.
What is an NDT technician?
NDT stands for non-destructive testing. It’s a method that detects flaws in various objects without dismantling the tested item. It contrasts with destructive testing, which requires a dismantling of the tested asset to assess its viability.
Non-destructive testing jobs are in-demand due to enhanced technologies and efficient techniques. We will show you the ins and outs of the NDT field. Read further if you want to know if this is the right career path for you.
As an NDT inspector, your job is to detect defects in small or large objects. You will help companies spot irregularities so maintenance departments address them.
Deviations could hamper operations or cause safety hazards. As an inspector, you can play a vital role in preventing accidents that could harm the public.
New analysts will earn certification in the NDT field. To become an NDT inspector, you must have a GED or high school diploma. Students don’t need a college degree to become certified.
And, you must pass an eye test. You must also contrast colors and distinguish between shades of grey.
Your training can take place in a vocational school. Or, an employer can offer NDT certification courses. Ensure that you get accreditation from centralized institutions, such as the ASNT.
Central certification also expands your job prospects.
Students will take classes on NDT specialties and field equipment. Certified NDT inspectors have six months to a year of training and six months to a year of field experience. But the time frame also depends on the specialty.
NDT careers require a general knowledge of NDT practices and specialized fields. Specialties within the NDT Inspection industry include:
- Eddy current testing
- Ultrasonic Testing
- Magnetic Particle Testing
- Liquid Penetrant Testing
- Radiographic Testing
Classroom hours will depend on the specialty. For instance, a level 2 inspector learning magnetic particle testing will need 20 hours of training, 280 hours of direct experience in the specialty, and 530 hours of total NDT experience.
However, eddy current or ultrasonic certification requires 80 hours of classroom training, 840 hours of direct experience, and 1600 hours of total NDT experience.
Regardless of the NDT method, you will start as a Level 1 technician, with Level 3 being the most advanced level.
Level 1 Personnel
Upon graduation, Level 1 analysts will work under the supervision of Level 2 and level 3 operators. Level 1 analysts aren’t trainees.
However, they usually receive direct instructions from senior analysts and conduct lighter duties. Supervisors typically provide written instructions.
The typical roles of a beginning inspector include:
- Recording data
- Conducting certain evaluations
- Commencing calibrations
Recruits must conduct a limited number of procedures that they must not deviate from. Moreover, they may only perform specific inspection procedures for certain types of materials. Performing complex tasks requires next-level training.
Level 2 Personnel
At this stage, Level 2 analysts can supervise over Level 1 inspectors. And, they can directly train recruits on the field. During the second stage, they can conduct inspection procedures with little to no supervision.
They must know also know applicable codes and standards that pertain to the specific NDT technique.
The duties of a level 2 operators entail:
- Equipment setup and calibrations
- Evaluating and interpreting results
- Conducting inspections
When it comes to inspections, they will perform duties according to their field of expertise. However, the next level requires general knowledge as well as specialized experience.
Level 3 Personnel
Level 3 operators typically become managers or supervisors of a facility. Level 1 and level 2 personnel report to level 3 inspectors.
Overall, operators at this level must be proficient in:
- Approving procedures
- Knowing applicable codes and standards
- Training lower-tier personnel
Level 3 analysts typically provide on-the-job training and will teach courses. They must know about specific materials and technologies to excel in this position. And, they can draft inspection procedures based on testing scenarios or company guidelines.
NDT Job Opportunities
NDT careers cover a diverse array of industries. Small and large companies utilize the services of NDT inspectors. Also, companies will train NDT inspectors on the specific procedures that pertain to company operations.
You can become an NDT technician in the following fields:
- Oil and Gas
Or, you can join third-party NDT agencies that offer inspection services to various companies. There are pros and cons of training with companies instead of a third-party institution.
If training under a company, management may only train you in specific inspection plans that are tailor-made for the company. As a result, you may have a wider skill-set compared to other colleagues who gained accreditation from a third-party institution.
On the plus side, the company chose to invest in you, enhancing your job security. Regardless of the path you choose, the average NDT job salary is around $50,000/yr. With that, the salary depends on such factors as experience and specialty.
How Accessible is the NDT Field?
The NDT industry requires careful analysis and precision to excel in this field. It’s a more challenging field to enter when compared to the destructive testing field.
However, NDT is a more in-demand method than most other testing measures. This is because of ongoing innovation and cutting-edge products that detect more flaws in less time.
The NDT field will become a 24-billion-dollar industry by 2024.
In particular, the phased array technology specialty will see some of the highest growth. Due to enhanced instruments, the job of an NDT inspector is easier than ever. Many NDT instruments automate data processing so inspectors can focus on finding flaws.
Some allow a beginning inspector to conduct advanced procedures that are normally beyond his or her expertise.
The Importance of an NDT Technician
An NDT technician plays a crucial role in finding small and large flaws that can jeopardize safety. More companies will require the services of an NDT technician.
And, many companies provide in-house training. Regardless of your specialty, you must be proficient in technology.
Interested in learning more about the latest tech trends? Read our other blogs to learn more.