NDT Technician Job Description
NDT technicians, also known as nondestructive testing technicians, utilize a variety of technologies to inspect products and materials for structural flaws. This can include a wide range of techniques, including radiography, ultrasound, current testing, and permeability testing. NDT technicians perform these tests on many different materials, most notably welded metal and concrete.
This is a highly technical role requiring familiarity with one or more methods of nondestructive testing and a good eye for detail, data interpretation, and imaging analysis. Most NDT technicians achieve levels of certification, and some technical schools offer associate’s degrees in nondestructive testing technology.
NDT Technician Duties and Responsibilities
The NDT technician’s duties can vary depending on their field and the type of testing technology they utilize, but most share several core responsibilities:
Conduct Material Tests
The primary responsibility of an NDT technician is conducting material tests using a variety of nondestructive methodologies and technologies. These methods can include thermal imaging, resonant testing, dye testing, and magnetic particle testing. With any methodology, the NDT technician’s main goal is to identify material flaws, such as incomplete welds, corrosion, or gaps that may affect performance or cause safety issues.
Interpret Test Results
After conducting tests and throughout the manufacturing process, NDT technicians interpret and analyze test results to assess materials. This can include examining film derived from X-ray imaging, assessing reports generated by testing equipment, and translating raw numeric data into actionable information to determine whether further tests are required or if the material being tested should be rejected outright.
Prepare Test Reports
NDT technicians develop, update, and issue documentation related to the tests they have performed. These reports generally outline the procedures used, the results of the tests, and any recommendations for manufacturing professionals or engineers. The NDT technician may also need to present these reports to aid in process improvement or to follow up on the results of a previous round of testing.
Calibrate and Maintain Equipment
NDT technicians ensure the accuracy of test results and prevent damage to materials by properly calibrating and maintaining their equipment. The NDT technician examines equipment settings prior to conducting tests and adjusts settings depending on the type of material being tested. In addition, the NDT technician also cleans up materials after testing to make sure machinery and equipment are ready for further use.
Develop Processes and Procedures
Finally, NDT technicians support quality assurance activities and rigorous testing by developing processes and procedures for their own work and for the work of other NDT technicians and teams. In this aspect of the role, the NDT technician may develop policy and procedure manuals, conduct training activities, or demonstrate proper techniques for using machinery and maintaining test data.
NDT Technician Skills and Qualifications
NDT technicians employ a variety of techniques to test material strength, reliability, and quality. Most workers in this role have a high school diploma or an associate’s degree, along with the following skills:
- Product testing – NDT technicians should possess a high level of expertise with NDT technologies, such as radiographic, ultrasound, and thermal infrared testing, and should know how to use and interpret the results of these tests
- Assessment and analysis – reviewing and interpreting results is also central to the NDT technician’s role, so they should be skilled at analyzing data and assessing readings from a variety of testing methodologies
- Documentation skills – NDT technicians also need to maintain detailed records of tests they have performed and their results, so they should be familiar with best practices in record keeping
- Attention to detail – this role requires a very high level of attention to detail, both when operating nondestructive testing technologies and reviewing test results, images, and data
- Communication skills – NDT technicians must be effective written and verbal communicators, since they need to present and explain test results to manufacturers, engineers, and other professionals
NDT Technician Education and Training
NDT technicians generally need at least a high school diploma, although most companies prefer to hire candidates with an associate’s degree in nondestructive testing technology. Many workers in this role also complete an apprenticeship or a similar period of guided and directed work. There are also several levels of certification available through the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ANST), which can help expand employment opportunities. Because there are many possible methods of nondestructive testing, most NDT technicians choose to focus on one specific technology or branch of techniques.
NDT Technician Salary and Outlook
NDT technician salaries can vary based on industry, location, and level of certification. According to PayScale, NDT technicians earn an average hourly rate of $28.70. This lines up relatively closely with Glassdoor’s estimate of $55,000 per year, which is based on 126 reported salaries. O*Net’s estimates are slightly higher, at $29.92 per hour and $62,230 annually.
Employment of NDT technicians is expected to grow at an average rate of 5 to 9 percent through 2026.
If you’d like to learn more about working as an NDT technician, we located several helpful resources on the web:
American Society for Nondestructive Testing – NDT technicians can join the ASNA to connect with other professionals, access industry publications, and gain certification in a range of technologies and methodologies
Handbook of Nondestructive Evaluation – read this book to learn about techniques, technologies, and best practices for nondestructive testing, ranging from penetrant testing to radiographic and ultrasonic testing
NDT.org – this site provides information and resources for NDT technicians and specialists, including industry development news, educational resources, and job search assistance
Introduction to Nondestructive Testing: A Training Guide – author Paul E. Mix prepares readers for certification examinations through in-depth theoretical and practical analyses of nondestructive testing methods and techniques
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