Careers in NDT can be in a wide range of scientific sectors and offer the opportunity for a career path from a very limited entry requirement right up to a chartered engineer.
In its very simple terms NDT is a science based on physics and metallurgy. A good grounding is required in maths, english and preferably physics for many careers in NDT – although it is possible if it is your chosen path, to restrict your work to a very limited knowledge if you should choose.
For those with greater ambitions, a good school certificate in those subjects (english, maths and physics) can open up a wide range of opportunities for all who wish to get into this scientific vocation. The wide range of engineering sectors have a greater or lesser involvement with NDT such as aerospace, power, leisure, nuclear, oil, gas, mining, defence to mention just a few. Here are some specific examples; in the leisure industry, the testing of the structures holding those high speed rides; in the power industry – every one of those wind turbines; in the aerospace industry – almost every component in a jet engine; bridges; pipelines; ships; racing cars and so on.
NDT is, of course, used in the medical profession – the technician who X-rays your leg; the MRI scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is an NDT technique and of course the Ultrasonic Imaging of the unborn child. Thermal imaging is increasingly used at the border to scan peoples temperature. NDT is being used more and more in the arts to interrogate paintings to identify their origin; sculptures-looking for corrosion or to look inside Egyptian mummies whilst not disturbing their coverings.
NDT is also being increasingly used to fight crime. For example, Eddy Current Testing can be used to identify counterfeit coins and imaging cameras are widely used in security at airports.
But in its most simple aim NDT is used to keep people safe by ensuring that these everyday structures we take for granted (bridges, building, pipelines, aircraft, ships, cars and so on) will not fail.
As well as its everyday use of NDT inspection techniques in a wide range of areas, there is also a great deal of research and development taking place in the UK universities and in those around the world. Of course, each of these activities requires differing levels of knowledge and application.
In general NDT personnel meet the industry standards for NDT Level 1 (Basic), NDT Level 2 and aspire to NDT Level 3. Alongside this, societies such as the British Institute of NDT (BINDT) can provide registration with the Engineering Council to Engineering Technician (EngTech); Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or ultimately Chartered Engineer (CEng). Many of these societies will also have a route for companies and individuals to get involved with NDT opportunities.
Should you be so enthused, there are opportunities available at various UK universities to follow a Foundation Degree in NDT, a BSc in NDT and an EngDoc.
So, depending on your enthusiasm, your passion and your inspiration, NDT has a wide range of opportunities for those of you who wish to consider it as not just a job – but a real career with an exciting future.