Best Practices Guide to a Career in Non-destructive Testing (NDT)
The dilemma for most people new to the field of Non-destructive Testing (NDT) is to try and find employment and what the process is to do so is. There is very little written on this subject and we thought we would put pen to paper and remove some of the mystery surrounding this subject. It is not intended to be a fool proof system, but sharing our best available knowledge is intended to assist those in need of critical information.
Here are the steps we recommend to someone new to the industry:
- Read all of the information on Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) Non-destructive Testing website. NRCan has been designated by the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) as the Certifying Body for ISO 9712 Canadian Personnel NDT Certification Scheme for NDT Inspectors in Canada.
- You must understand the requirements set by NRCan to prepare for training, practical work experience, and exams, both written and practical, prior to being certified to work in the various NDT methods.
- NDT is made up of different methods such as Magnetic Particle, Liquid Penetrant, Ultrasonics, and Radiography, including Radiation Safety. Each method requires separate training and certification requirements. Research these to see which one is best suited for your abilities.
- Associate yourself with any friends or family members in the Industry to help you understand and clarify the certification scheme and what it means to become and NDT Inspector in Canada.
- Become familiar with the Canadian Institute for NDE (CINDE), the Canadian Professional NDT Association. You can find a questions and answer section on their website.
- Become familiar with the NDT companies in Canada and contact them to find out what they are looking for in new employees, as well as possible employment opportunities. Their HR departments might be a place to start.
- There is a Union for NDT Inspectors which is the Quality Control Council of Canada (QCCC). You should contact the local office in your Region to discuss how to become a member in the NDT community. Note: you will require 500 hours of employment with a Union Contractor before being eligible for Union membership.
- There are several Union NDT companies to work with and the QCC will be able to provide you with names and locations.
- Ensure that you have the right technical and scientific background as NDT skills and competency will require these attributes
The QCCC National Training Society has locations in Edmonton AB, Hamilton ON, and Saint John NB for all your training needs.
- Ensure you have the right physical attributes including the ability to pass an eye exam for both visual acuity and colour vision.
- The prerequisites for NDT training courses includes the passing of a math test and taking a 40 hour Materials & Processes at an NRCan Recognized Training Organization (RTO). These are listed on the NRCan website.
- Contact an NRCan RTO in your location to arrange for an M&P course and a math examination or course.
- Decide which NDT method(s) you would like to become certified in and the research the required training requirements and practical training experience you will require for certification. Contact your nearest RTO to register for the course of interest (after you have provided proof of the required pre-requisite math exam and M&P course have been successfully passed with the required 70% grade).
- There are many ways to enter the NDT field. Some people start with a desire to work in the radiation field of inspection and take a 40 hour CEDO (Certified Exposure Device Operator). The generally accepted entry level program is to take a Magnetic Particle or Liquid Penetrant course and achieve certification with one or both methods. Both have of these latter methods involve a 40 hour courses at an RTO.
- Register with NRCan for NDT certification exams (forms on the website) and pay the dues to register for your written and practical exams.
- Upon receiving approval from NRCan, write the NRCan written exam at an Approved Examination Centre (listed on the NRCan website).
- Upon successful completion of the training requirements in the NDT method of choice at an RTO, you will be required to obtain the requisite practical experience hours required for the method via practical work with an NDT employer and/or an NDT workshop at an RTO prior to taking the NRCan practical exam. Make sure you understand the length of time and how you can minimize the required time through workshops.
- Throughout this training process, you should be attempting to obtain some form of employment with an NDT contractor. Accept any form of employment to get your foot in the door. The dilemma every new Inspector faces with finding employment is: the Contractor normally wants to hire certified Inspectors and you are not certified at this stage and you require a job to get the requisite experience hours.
- Don't despair with this process and keep up a strong determined effort to prove yourself worthy of employment. This is where friends or relatives come in handy to help get that first job. You need to network, as best you can, with people you have met on your journey to assist in this process. The spring and fall shutdown months are peak employment periods for NDT companies and they tend to hire more junior personnel in these periods.
- A typical career involves working from Level 1-2 in each of the methods and working in all sectors of the industry in Canada.
- Typical remuneration in the NDT field for union member ranges currently from $20 per hour as a Trainee to $45 per hour for a Level 2 Technician with three (3) methods. There are additional pension and health benefits associated with this industry for union members.
- Personnel with backgrounds in welding, metallurgy, and related construction and maintenance backgrounds tend to do well in achieving a successful NDT career.