What It Takes to Work in Non-Destructive Testing

Your current career doesn’t excite you. When you clock in at the beginning of your shift, you know another unfulfilling day awaits you. You don’t feel like your job does anything worthwhile for the company, the community, or even you. It doesn’t challenge you, and you drudge through each day just because you need a paycheck.

You need a career change, so you’ve considered several options, but you haven’t found one that appeals to you yet. Have you looked at non-destructive testing? NDT doesn’t fit most people’s idea of the typical alternative career, but you may find it not only fulfilling and challenging, but fascinating as well.

NDT involves helping companies, cities, and other organizations find flaws in their pipes, buildings, and other structures. This ensures that everyone living or working near that structure stays safe. You’ll get to use a number of sophisticated technologies in the process as well.

Read below to learn if this kind of career change would work for you.

How Viable This Career Change Is

Companies, cities, and other entities all over the world need non-destructive testing to safely complete their construction projects. However, when these organizations look for an NDT professional, they have a hard time locating qualified technicians. The market has a high demand, but a low supply of NDT experts to help these organizations out.

This means that if you choose this new career, you’ll have plenty of work to keep you busy. Just make sure you train with a quality instructor. You should either train with a trade school, or you should train with a company like 20/20 NDT whose reputation sets them apart as an expert in their field. Once you’ve trained, you’ll become one of the coveted, qualified technicians the industry needs so badly.

What Positions You Can Occupy

When you work in non-destructive testing, you can occupy a few different positions.

1. Exposure Device Operator in Training

If you train with an NDT company like 20/20 NDT rather than pursuing your education through a trade school, you’ll begin as an apprentice or trainee. Your job title may look like the one above. This means that you don’t have certification yet, but you still get to work in this industry.

A person in this position will do well if he or she has the following personality traits:

  • Patience— It will take some time to complete your training and earn certification.
  • Willingness to learn— You will do a lot of learning while you train. Most companies use more than one technique to do NDT. You’ll have to learn how to interpret the results of each, and you’ll have to learn a number of safety considerations.
  • Flexibility— You will have to work in a support position, so you might not get to choose your tasks very often, if at all.
  • Enthusiasm and endurance— NDT involves a lot of fast-paced work.
  • Dedication— Most companies will expect you to earn your certification at the end of your training period. This means that you need to show dedication as you learn, study, etc.
If you have all these personality traits, you should do well as an exposure device operator in training. However, you should still familiarize you with the types of tasks you’ll have to do before you jump into this position. Common tasks include:
  • Assisting certified exposure device operators with taking exposures with radiographic testing devices
  • Assisting with ultrasonic, magnetic particle, and dye penetrant testing when requested
  • Taking short courses in NDT after a training/probation period
  • Writing a government exam after a training/probation period

Most training or probation periods only last a few months, so remember to study hard for your exams. After the exam, you’ll earn certification and rise to the next pay level.

2. Certified Exposure Device Operator

Once you have certification, you can do a number of other tasks. Remember that only patient, driven, and flexible individuals can make it this far and succeed in this position. You’ll still need to exercise patience here so you can earn your way to the level II radiographer position. Your responsibilities will include:

  • Using radiographic, ultrasonic, magnetic particle, and dye penetrant testing devices to gauge the damage in a pipe or other structures
  • Assisting the level II radiographer with the entire radiographic testing process
  • Assisting with developing films and interpreting results in the darkroom

If you like the thrill of achieving something challenging and growing as a person, you’ll do well as a certified exposure device operator.

3. Level II Radiographer

A level II radiographer does similar tasks to the certified exposure device operator, only you’ll have more experience, training, and authority. You’ll also make more money as well. To achieve this position, you’ll have to take another short training course followed by a government exam. If you pass with a 75% or higher, you’ll get to give the primary opinion when interpreting results or executing non-destructive tests.

Learn more about these positions by contacting our experts at 20/20 NDT Inc.