Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Brian Kelly from BioPharmachem Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Brian Kelly

Science Entrepreneur

BioPharmachem Ireland

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  Brian Kelly
Go for it!  But realise that its not going to be easy and things take time and there are LOTS of sacrifices to make. Also make sure you learn from your mistakes - because you will make them. It is really only a mistake if you don't learn from it.
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The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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Radiographer - Industrial

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At a Glance... header image

Industrial radiographers / Non-destructive testing (NDT) specialists test the safety of structures, vehicles and vessels including aircraft, trains, bridges, dams and pipelines.


The Work header image

Non-destructive testing specialists examine vitally important structures and vehicles, including aircraft, trains, bridges and pipelines. They use non-destructive testing methods (NDT), which means that after specialists have tested a component it remains useable.  
 
Non-destructive testing specialists look for signs of corrosion, metal fatigue, cracks and other flaws. NDT is essential for safety; specialists may also use it to improve output or profitability, for example, to make sure an oilrig is working safely and at full capacity.  
 
There are many different methods of carrying out NDT. The original method is a visual examination. With advances in technology, NDT specialists can now examine structures and components by using lenses, closed circuit television and fibre optic devices. This technology enables specialists to examine structures on the seabed, or look at components in a radioactive environment.  
 
In liquid penetrant testing, the most common type of NDT, specialists coat an object with a visible or fluorescent dye. Any cracks in the surface will draw in the dye. After cleaning away excess penetrant, NDT specialists use a developer (which acts like blotting paper) to draw the dye back up, therefore revealing the crack.  
 
Non-destructive testing specialists can use radiography to produce an image of an object on a film. For example, they may use X ray or gamma radiation to look for internal defects in metal castings.  
 
They may also use ultrasonic to detect faults in solid materials. This follows a similar principle to that used in sonar equipment at sea. NDT specialists introduce sound into the test object. By looking at how the sound travels within the object, they can map the presence of imperfections (which might bounce the sound around). They use ultrasound to examine welds in nuclear reactors, and in medical imaging studies. 2 other methods are using eddy current and magnetic particles.  
 
NDT is a very fast-moving area; specialists are developing and using new methods all the time, like acoustic emission (which 'listens' to the growth of a crack), leak testing and thermography (used to analyse temperature data).  
 
Specialists often develop expertise in one or two methods of NDT, but they need to know how to interpret all methods. They also need to develop an understanding of the manufacturing processes they are involved in, to predict the type, position and effect of faults.

 


Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation

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Interpret or evaluate test results in accordance with applicable codes, standards, specifications, or procedures.

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Interpret the results of all methods of non-destructive testing (NDT) such as acoustic emission, electromagnetic, leak, liquid penetrant, magnetic particle, neutron radiographic, radiographic, thermal or infrared, ultrasonic, vibration analysis, and visual testing.

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Select, calibrate, or operate equipment used in the non-destructive testing (NDT) of products or materials.

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Examine structures or vehicles such as aircraft, trains, nuclear reactors, bridges, dams, and pipelines using non-destructive testing (NDT) techniques.

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Make radiographic images to detect flaws in objects while leaving objects intact.

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Identify defects in solid materials using ultrasonic testing techniques.

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Prepare reports on non-destructive testing (NDT) results.

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Conduct liquid penetrant tests to locate surface cracks by coating objects with fluorescent dyes, cleaning excess penetrant, and applying developer.

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Document non-destructive testing (NDT) methods, processes, or results.

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Produce images of objects on film using radiographic techniques.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.

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Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material:  Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.

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Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge:  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

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Handling and Moving Objects:  Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

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Processing Information:  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

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Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings:  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

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Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards:  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

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Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates:  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

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Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People:  Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.

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Coaching and Developing Others:  Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.

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Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work:  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.


Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.

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Engineering and Technology:  Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

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Mathematics:  Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

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Customer and Personal Service:  Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

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Production and Processing:  Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

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Education and Training:  Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.


Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.

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Reading Comprehension:   Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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Quality Control Analysis:   Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

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Monitoring:   Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

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Critical Thinking:   Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

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Active Listening:   Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

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Operation Monitoring:   Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

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Complex Problem Solving:   Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

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Equipment Maintenance:   Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.

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Troubleshooting:   Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.

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Coordination:   Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

To be a non-destructive testing specialist, you must have strong technical knowledge and skills, to understand and use the principles of non-destructive testing. A knowledge of physics would be beneficial.  
 
You must enjoy solving problems, and have a logical and methodical approach to this. You will need to be inquisitive and observant.  
 
Safety is a vital aspect of this job, for example, when you deal with radiation, so you must have a strong sense of responsibility, a calm approach and the ability to follow strict procedures. You must be self-reliant because you may be working on your own.  
 
You will need good communication skills, to work in teams with other non-destructive testing specialists, and to pass on your findings in a clear verbal or written report.


Related Occupationsheader image

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Career Guidance

This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...


...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:

Building, Construction & Property
Mechanical Engineering & Manufacturing
Chemical, Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Electrical & Electronic Engineering

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