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What to Study in Preparation for an NDT Career

NDT Technicians

Although it may be possible to qualify for a few technician jobs without formal training, most employers prefer to hire someone with at least a 2-year associate degree in NDT technology. Training is available at community colleges, vocational-technical schools, and the Armed Forces. Many of these programs prepare students to become certifiable by standards set by the American Society for Nondestructive Testing. Although employers do not always require NDT technicians to be certified, such certification may provide job seekers a competitive advantage.

NDT requires technicians to have a mid-level understanding of mathematics and physics, as these are the basis of the inspection technology used. Lives sometimes depend on the technician's ability to understand the principals of physics and to use mathematical calculations to locate flaws in the materials. Community colleges and vocational schools that provide AAS degrees in NDT require students to successfully complete mathematics and physics courses. Many community colleges require students to have completed a high school level algebra course before being allowed to enter the NDT program. Most 2-year associate degree programs accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (TAC/ABET) require, at a minimum, college algebra and trigonometry and one or two basic science courses.

Prospective NDT technicians should take as many high school science and math courses as possible to prepare for post secondary programs in NDT technology or other technology programs. Students should take math and science courses through middle and high school. Once they get out of the sequence of taking math and science courses, it is sometimes hard to get back on track. High school algebra is essential. Geometry, chemistry, physics, and computer classes are usually not mandated but are recommended.

NDT Engineers

An NDT engineer is likely to have an engineering degree in a discipline other than NDT technology. The demand for engineers that have focused there studies specifically on NDT is not great enough that that colleges and universities can afford to offer BS degrees in NDT. However, graduates of engineering programs that have taken classes to develop an understanding of NDT technology, are definitely in demand. At least, at one major university students can earn a minor in NDE engineering that can be attached to a number of engineering majors.

The entry requirements for engineering programs around the US vary slightly but most require completion of the following high school courses.

  • 2 years of Algebra
  • 1 year of Geometry
  • 1/2 year of Trigonometry
  • 1 year each of Chemistry and Physics
  • 4 years of English

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