Non-destructive testing specialist

How to Become a Non-Destructive Testing Specialist in Edmonton

If you like challenging situations that require attention to detail and problem-solving, you’re a prime candidate for a non-destructive testing specialist. Following is how to become a non-distributive testing specialist position in Edmonton.


General requirements


Most positions need as a minimum a high school diploma or GED equivalent, a college education in Material science or Welding will reduce the necessary time required to certify yourself in NDT and give you the key materials knowledge necessary for advancement.
You can go from a level 1 technician to a Level 3 technician and up to a MSc in NDT or anywhere in between, depending on experience and education.


Skills required


As a non-destructive testing specialist, you need an understanding of materials, corrosion and operating equipment to recognize the nature of and potential for problems. A good technician must be able to identify the type of problems that may already be occurring.
Testing different materials in different situations requires training and experience to see specific types of defects and their extent. You must be able to detect and accurately size indications with the potential for harm.
As with almost any position, you must be able to take direction both verbally and in writing and apply reasoning to them. A non-destructive testing specialist uses his or her skills to offer clear answers to questions.

Good vision and the ability to differentiate between colors, including shade and brightness are key. You must also be in good physical condition; specialized rope access NDT technicians have advanced mountain climbing training. Dexterity is important to ensure consistent inspection application with the various technologies. The ability to think quickly with strong reasoning skills are key for all non-destructive testing specialists.


Education levels


Over half of all non-destructive testing specialists generally have a high school diploma. Almost 30% have an associate degree, while only 7% have a bachelor’s degree.

All non-destructive testing specialists need certification from an institutional body such as:

  • CGSB Canada’s National Non-Destructive Testing Certification Body.
  • Personal Certification Network (PCN) and The Certification scheme for Welding inspection Personnel (CSWIP)
  • ASNT American Society of NDT

This ensures you can work anywhere and cover the greatest amount of client needs.

You can get certain certifications from these bodies in multiple disciplines:

  • Radiography
  • Ultrasonics (Phased Array, Time of Flight Diffraction, Guided wave etc.…)
  • Magnetic Particle Inspection
  • Dye Penetrant Inspection
  • Eddy Current Inspection

The CGSB would be your first point of contact and others could be explored and pursued from there. The CGSB will provide you with an examination guide to study for the written examinations. You must know and understand the applicable acts, regulations, standards, and safety codes.

Once you are certified, you must keep your certification current. This means renewing and re-certifying yourself every 5 years before the expiration date to keep up with changes to technology and code.




A career as a non-destructive testing specialist is both rewarding and essential to the overall safety of equipment and the public at large. You can find job openings by searching the internet, where you can also find more information about employers looking for technicians.

If you have the skills listed above and are willing to become certified, a non-destructive testing specialist may just be the perfect job for you. You can find everything you need for a career as a specialist on the CGSB website.

Training institutions such as NAIT and SAIT offer dedicated training as well.

TFM/PAUT Inspection

Announcing: TFM/PAUT Inspection for On-Stream Monitoring

Industry experience has shown that most companies are only able to inspect approximately 3-5% of their equipment a year. When the cost of inspection weighted against the cost of down time is incidental, cost effective approaches to inspection can be undertaken. Expensive emergency outages, the costly impact of spills on a company’s environmental reputation, or a very serious process safety event with potentially catastrophic endings can be avoided. One common theme heard is “we don’t know how to monitor {insert asset here} so we just wait until it washes out or fails”. Corrective Based Maintenance strategies like this can now be advanced to Condition Based with Buffalo’s new technology.

Through our industry experience, we have been able to assist clients in determining key locations for inspection, to enable them to pursue an online condition based assessment.

Buffalo Inspection has been utilizing cutting edge equipment, combined with best in class PCN PAUT training, to provide a complete inspection package to our clients. This isn’t a standard data collection inspection. We are in this to ensure not only the integrity of the asset, but to save our clients time, money, and headaches. Through our

industry experience, we have been able to assist clients in determining key locations for inspection, to enable them to pursue an online condition based assessment.

TFM/PAUT Inspection

We have developed inspection methods for specific client requirements such as Choke Valves, Flange Face Corrosion, Internal Current Transfer Corrosion, HDPE inspections, and an ever increasing variety of previously uninspectable situations. Conventional ultrasonic methods experience limitations that modern phased array technologies have been able to overcome. Permanent, Auditable data, has established itself as a necessity for integrity management.

Working with our clients, has allowed us to alleviate issues that hadn’t been solved for them in the past. It has also allowed clients to increase the integrity of their assets. Code minimums are exactly that, minimums, but what if it was faster, better, and cheaper, to get more? That is exactly what we at Buffalo Inspection Services are striving to provide.

NDT Certification

NDT Certification Differences

Institutional certifications and recommended practice certifications. What’s the difference?

Supplying clients with certificated technicians is essential in our industry; unfortunately, not all contractors provide the expected quality of technician. The result is that the client wants evidence that the technicians are properly qualified.
In many cases the technician holds the responsibility of passing a judgement on the acceptance or rejection of the inspected component. It is the operator through whom we depend to accurately evaluate defects and indications; if the operator is not properly knowledgeable, trained and experienced they might totally misjudge the results of NDT and reject components which are sound and capable of performing in the service. On the other hand, they might send the faulty components into service which may become a source of premature failure. In both cases the consequences are going to be adverse. In the first case the organization is going to suffer undue production losses while in the second the premature failure may lead to even bigger losses. Of no less importance is the integrity of the operator in view of his ability to provide accurate reports.
A central system of certification (per ISO 9712 and EN473) such as CGSB, PCN, CSWIP and ACCP has technicians study the relevant subject material, undertake the necessary experience and training requirements and then go to an authorized examination provider to take an independently set and invigilated examination. When they pass their exam, they are awarded a certificate of competency in that respective NDT Discipline. This can then be used by their employer or a potential employer anywhere within its jurisdictional or accepted limits. At Buffalo Inspection Services, we have chosen to support our clients and technicians with certifications that are recognized broadly as thee standard. We see this as a competitive advantage and a sustainable quality standard for our clients.
The employer still has a level of responsibility of ensuring the capability of the technician in applying their qualification (Duty of Care) to the specific work process, but this is relatively easy task compared to the qualification process. However, When the technician asserts an opinion on an inspection with an institutional certification their opinion has increased “Value at law” due to their duty of care obligations.

In the ASME system, the ASNT Recommended Practice SNT-TC-1A is the dominant certification program, it is not an institutional program but an employer-based form of certification. SNT-TC-1A is a recommended practice and not a standard, which gives the employer a certain amount of flexibility concerning the necessary requirements needed for an NDT technician pertaining to the specific NDT applied. A written practice allows discretion in the practical nature of examination, which is for all intent and purpose a positive element. However, the negative aspects of discretion give way to the temptation to provide inadequate structure and correctness to the certification process along with the relative capacity to ‘rubber stamp’ certification. Additionally, the SNT-TC-1A program has no portability for the technician and as such has no central database for verification. This has been an ongoing challenge and complaint from NDT customers for years when it comes to the overall competency of a technician. In addition to this challenge is that the technician’s opinion is inherently linked to the NDT service provider who is linked by code to the manufacturer or fabricator. Which means that a technician’s opinion has limited or no Value at Law (per code) by comparison to the employer or fabricator. Buffalo does provide our technicians with the added practical in-house oversight of an SNT exam however, we are moving towards wanting as a minimum for our technicians to have CGSB, PCN,CSWIP and ACCP as table stakes for competency.
As production demands and reliability increase, the opinion of an NDT technician has become more and more important as far as identifying and evaluating defects and indications correctly and accurately.

I remember in the Middle East years ago, when technicians came from all over the world and there was not a clear understanding of consistency in certification; for this reason and others similar, the ‘performance demonstration’ was established.
In the interim we have had API establish performance evaluation tests and more recently ASNT’s central certification program ACCP and now we have ASME coming up with their own contribution in the form of ANDE “The ASME Nondestructive examination” program. The instigator of all these performance demonstrations to identify technicians capable of finding cracking in SS welds was the Nuclear Industry.
Now, with the plethora of certification programs out there we have what appears to be a never-ending requirement for training and all its incumbent expenses. Whether this creates better technicians or not remains to be seen, but, it sure creates a scarcity of skilled personnel.
Industry needs to agree on a standard of certification that ensures competency and accuracy in the delivery of the service. CGSB, PCN, CSWIP and ACCP are the pillars of internationally recognized central certification programs and are increasingly essential for hiring and advancement at Buffalo Inspection Services, These programs should be a minimum pre-requisite to all NDT undertaken in our country.


Continuous Improvement and the NDT market

Believe it or not, we are now 18 years into the 21st century, no flying cars quite yet but look closer to earth and the change that is occurring may spin your head. Our industry, NDT – used to be a simple RT, UT, MT, PT, ET, VT type scenario; yet, in the last decade we have seen the unabated rise of Digital versions of these disciplines with 3D imaging, digitized outputs and Cloud connectivity that allows a person in Alberta to monitor, in real-time, an inspection in Argentina; whether it be a digital film, a phased array scan or a Tangential Eddy Current scan, all can be done remotely and at the speed of light.
Our market can change on a dime depending on commodity prices, competitiveness or regulatory needs. Technological changes to the status quo are being thrust upon us whether we like it or not.

How do we keep ahead of the game and stay in the market? As a company, Buffalo Inspection Services are alert to change and ahead of the herd in identifying trends and technologies; a bigger part of the picture is certification and competencies. Some of which we cover with our institutional and company accreditation programs but increasingly with dedicated OEM training.
As front-line participants in this industry, it is incumbent upon us as technicians to keep up to date, adapt to changes as quickly as possible through continuous education and continuous improvement, and expand our body of knowledge in all disciplines. This then allows us to move into markets and sectors seamlessly and build out our customer base.

Buffalo TrainingIf you aren’t a member of an institutional body such as CINDE, ASNT, BINDT then you should join. These institutions publish monthly and quarterly journals packed with information on the latest in technology and training. It can also count for credit towards your certification renewals.
Plan to educate yourself every year with courses, certifications or conference attendance (its tax deductible), take the time to learn something new as often as possible to increase your skill sets and employability. Jobs done well and with a high level of quality and competency are ours and your best advertisement.


Buffalo is very well aware of the pace of change and we endeavor to support our technicians with training, practical support and leading technology to ensure they are as productive as possible. We encourage our team to be the best by rewarding the best technicians in technical and academic achievement annually. Come join the herd, your efforts for Life Long Learning and achievement with clients will not go unnoticed.


By: Andrew Crawford, TQMS Manager and Resident SME
Larry Kaumeyer, CEO