Is becoming a non-destructive testing specialist right for me?

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How to become a Non-Destructive Testing Specialist

Becoming a non-destructive testing specialist involves a combination of education, practical training, and, in some cases, certification. Here are the general steps to pursue a career as an NDT specialist:

  • Educational Background: Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent. Focus on courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and other sciences to build a strong foundation for further studies.
  • Enroll in an Accredited NDT Program: Choose an NDT program accredited by the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) or other relevant accrediting bodies. These programs are typically offered at technical schools, community colleges, or universities.
  • Select a Specialization: Determine the specific NDT methods you are interested in or wish to specialize in, such as ultrasonic testing, radiographic testing, magnetic particle testing, liquid penetrant testing, or others. Successfully complete the coursework, which includes theoretical knowledge and practical skills related to the chosen NDT methods. Courses may cover topics such as metallurgy, materials science, and inspection techniques.
  • Hands-On Training: Gain practical, hands-on experience through laboratory sessions and practical training. This is an important aspect of NDT education and provides the skills needed for real-world inspections.
  • Meet Certification Requirements (Optional): While certification is often optional, obtaining certifications from organizations such as the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) or others can enhance your credibility and employability (see below).
  • Obtain a Degree (Optional): While not always required, obtaining an associate or bachelor's degree in a related field, such as engineering or materials science, can open up additional career opportunities and provide a deeper understanding of the principles behind NDT.
  • Apply for Entry-Level Positions: Look for entry-level positions in industries such as manufacturing, aerospace, construction, or energy. Entry-level roles may include assistant or trainee positions where you can further develop your skills under the guidance of experienced NDT specialists.
  • Gain Experience and Advance: Gain experience in the field and consider advancing your career by pursuing higher-level certifications or specializing in specific industries. Experience and expertise can lead to roles with increased responsibility and leadership.

Certifications for non-destructive testing specialists are typically offered by professional organizations that set standards and promote excellence in the field. Here are some widely recognized certifications for NDT specialists:

  • American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) Certifications: ASNT is a leading professional organization in the field of NDT, and it offers several certification programs. The ASNT NDT Level III certification is highly regarded. Specific certifications include: ASNT NDT Level I; ASNT NDT Level II; ASNT NDT Level III.
  • American Welding Society (AWS) - Certified Welding Inspector (CWI): While not specific to NDT, the CWI certification from AWS is often sought after by professionals in the field of welding and NDT. It demonstrates expertise in welding inspection, which is closely related to NDT.
  • The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors (NBBI) - Authorized Inspector (AI): This certification is for individuals involved in the inspection of boilers, pressure vessels, and related components. It may be relevant for NDT specialists working in industries where pressure vessels are a focus.
  • American Petroleum Institute (API) Certifications: API offers certifications for individuals working in the oil and gas industry. The API 510, API 570, and API 653 certifications are relevant for those involved in the inspection and evaluation of pressure vessels, piping systems, and storage tanks.
  • ISO 9712: ISO 9712 is an international standard that specifies requirements for certification of personnel performing NDT. Certification under ISO 9712 is recognized globally and covers various NDT methods.
  • NACE International - Coating Inspector Program: While not specific to NDT, NACE International offers certifications for coating inspectors. Coating inspection is often part of the overall inspection process, and this certification may be relevant for NDT specialists working in corrosion-related assessments.
  • Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) Certification: For NDT specialists working with radiation-based methods, obtaining an RSO certification ensures compliance with safety regulations. This certification may be offered by organizations specializing in radiation safety.