The approach to NDT training and certification

Is the current approach to NDT training and certification correct? Should the approach be aligned to the industry sector rather than the method?

Rather than gaining certification in ultrasonic testing (UT), magnetic testing (MT), penetrant testing (PT) and so on, should the candidate be aiming for certification in their industry sector, such as thermal power generation or offshore oil & gas, with the certification showing the industry sector as the key factor rather than the NDT method? There could be some form of certification graded on the number of methods and the complexity of the methods that the operator has demonstrated proficiency in. This would indicate the operator’s competence and expertise in a specific industry sector, but this could also be considered too restrictive by the more general NDT 

This option is partly addressed with the aerospace certification standard EN 4179, which only certificates operators in the aerospace industry sector and is aligned to company-specific standards and procedures for specific NDT 

Does industry want an NDT operator who is an expert in the required industry sector, who can choose and apply the appropriate method(s) and technique(s) and give a more comprehensive holistic report on the state of the item/plant under inspection? The NDT operator would have greater understanding of the relevant codes and standards, as well as potential problem areas within the item/plant under inspection.

This would require a different approach to both training and certification, with each being bespoke to the industry sectors and covering a wider range of methods and techniques. This approach is partially the aim of the English NDT apprenticeships, where, for example, an NDT Operator apprentice gains more than just NDT knowledge in the industry sector that the employer is active in and can involve multiple 

Or is the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach better, as any change could possibly result in certification that would be much less transferable between industry sectors?

At a recent event that I attended, the presenter uttered wise words along the lines of: ‘cheap NDT costs more’, this being related to ‘engineers’ picking up aerosol penetrant and thinking that it cannot be that difficult. When the professional NDT staff were brought in, the results were alarmingly different, with defects missed and grossly undersized. We must not undersell the part we play in saving lives and contributing to a more efficient world.

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