If there’s one way to find this out without getting into it, it has to be non-destructive testing. Not just an emerging career option, it’s also the most sought after today.

Ever thought how you can find out what’s wrong inside an object without ripping it apart or destroying it? Inspecting it for its quality and keeping it intact seems almost impossible but non-destructive testing (NDT) has made it possible.

A scientific way to test, it’s used effectively in testing material without destroying any of its parameters namely shape, size, chemical or physical properties. Just as we undergo an X-ray or an MRIR to find out what's wrong with us, the same theory is applied to all components thereby keeping them intact.

V. Pari Chief Executive of Scaanray Metallurgical Services says, “With more than 12 different methods to test a component and all sectors employing this technology to monitor the quality of a product during various stages of production and to take corrective remedial steps at any appropriate stage, Non- Destructive Testing aims to improve productivity, and bring out quality. With modernisation being the operative word today, it is but lucrative for youngsters to take this up as a career option.”

NDT as a career

With more and more stress on maintaining quality and finding out at which stage a problem occurs, NDT is being implemented on a large scale in the automobile sector. As a matter of fact all power generating units, be it nuclear or thermal, petro-chemical complexes or pipelines, have to necessarily undergo NDT to ensure public safety as per various standards and acts of parliament be it within India or outside.

Basic qualifications

Diploma engineers of any discipline can take up NDT as a career. Since this is a form of applied physics, graduates/PG physics students can also pursue this as a career. For engineering graduates, being trained and qualified in NDT Methods will enable them to find lucrative assignments in automobile, petrochemical, process and heavy industries. Any student who has a class X pass certificate can apply for this course. They need to have some hands-on experience before applying for certification.

There are many colleges in the South India that offer this course. All colleges affiliated with the Anna University have incorporated NDT syllabus in their curriculum as an elective paper. NIT Tiruchi offers an M. Tech degree in NDT. IIT’s across the country also have a special course in NDT.

An engineering student with knowledge gained from a training programme can pursue his career as a researcher under Quality Assessment or Quality Control. He could also be employed in a design office in any of the sectors that suits his basic qualification or simply be an NDT practising professional.

The prospects for this profession have been very encouraging. Many Level I, Level II and Level III professionals are engaged with lucrative pay packetss mostly in Asian and African Countries. The course by itself is exhaustive and can be done when the person is perusing a degree course, but basically a science graduate will be better suited.

In India, Bureau of Indian Standards has established a certification scheme known as BIS 13805 and has authorised ISNT to administer training and certification programmes. ISNT, which has 19 chapters spread across India, trains and certifies technicians of various levels as mentioned in the standard. ISNT also conducts the ASNT courses in India.

In NDT there are three Levels. One could get into any of the following levels at suitable positions using this certification. Under Level I which is the basic level, one could opt to be an operator during the testing. Once you have completed Level II, you could also become a supervisor and on completing , Level III which is the highest qualification as a NDT person, you can be in-charge of writing procedures, standards. You will also be in-charge of conducting exams for level I and II and certifying them.

Anyone entering at the beginner's level can also aim for Level II and Level III. With years of experience and by clearing the tests one could achieve this.

Course tenure and fee

The various courses offered under this programme are — Radiographic Testing, UltrasonicTesting, Penetrant Testing and Magnetic Particle Testing. NDT has almost 12 methods; it takes a person about two to three years to specialise along with practical training. While a course in the basic level will cost RS. 20,000 for any four disciplines, it would cost around Rs. 40,000 for level II. At Level III, it would cost around Rs. 1,50,000 - 2,00,000.

The job scenario

There is a huge scope for NDT specialists both within the country and abroad. With many international automobiles, aerospace and nuclear energy projects coming to India, the demand for NDT technicians and procedure-writing specialists is on the rise. Oil and natural gas, shipping, aerospace, welding, foundry and forging industries are some of the other areas NDT specialists could enter into.