Training and certification: becoming an NDT professional in the renewable energy sector

The renewable energy sector has seen major growth in recent years and continues to grow rapidly. 

From April – June 2023, the renewable energy generation capacity in the UK grew by 6% in the same quarter in 2022, with offshore wind growing by 9%. 

As the infrastructure for the wind energy sector in and around the UK grows, we continue to need trained technicians to maintain it – particularly NDT technicians. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the different pathways to becoming an NDT technician.

This is an exciting industry to be working in. Could a career in this industry be for you? 

Educational pathways for NDT professionals

There are different routes available for those wanting to become an NDT technician. 

You can:

  • Take a course in college
  • Become an apprentice in an NDT company
  • Learning on the job

College route

If you decide to go to college, and your local college does not run a specific NDT course, you can take a course that is related to NDT, before then applying for a role as a trainee technician. Some relevant courses include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Welding
  • Level 3 Diploma in Engineering
  • Level 3 Extended Certificate in Applied Science
  • T Level in Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control

To get on to one of these courses, you will probably need one of the following combinations of qualifications:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level

Apprenticeship route

Apprenticeships are a great way to train to be an NDT technician. They combine an academic approach with practical experience. 

An NDT company and local education establishment normally work in partnership to provide an apprenticeship programme. The students spend time in college and then time in work, learning from other technicians. 

NDT Renewables Apprenticeship at NDT Group

At NDT Group we run the NDT Renewables Apprenticeship Scheme which offers a hands-on and specialised approach to NDT in the wind energy sector. 

The apprenticeship programme, complemented by Global Wind Organisation (GWO) training, focuses specifically on the unique challenges of NDT in the renewable energy sector.

Interested? Find out more about our NDT Renewables Apprenticeship Scheme here

On the job training

There are occasions when individuals already working within the industry, but not as technicians, train on the job to gain their qualifications. 

One University that offers a foundation degree in NDT is the University of Northampton. They provide distance learning for anyone wanting to take the course. 

Which route is best?

Everyone’s circumstances are different, and different routes are going to suit different people. But, there is no denying that we are big fans of the apprenticeship route. We believe this because:

  1. More “real” experiences

Although all college courses would give their students practical experience in the form of work experience at NDT companies, the range and breadth of experience you’d get would be limited. An apprenticeship scheme helps you work on real jobs, with real technicians, letting you see the challenges they face and the methods they employ to overcome them. You get a lot more time, get the opportunity to work on a much wider range of jobs and this supercharges your skills. 

  1. More “soft” skills

Apprenticeships allow you to see interactions with other professionals in real-time. You might not realise it, but being forced to develop “soft” skills such as communication and collaboration are vital to a successful career. Being able to adapt to situations, flex and troubleshoot problems are also skills that can only be developed through experience on the ground. Apprenticeship schemes give you the opportunity to do this. 

  1. More specialised skills

If your apprenticeship scheme is tailored closely to the area you want to work in, you develop more highly specialised skills. 

Our Renewables apprenticeship programme is one such scheme. It ensures that professionals are not only trained in conventional NDT methods but are also knowledgeable in the specific requirements of the renewable energy sector.  This includes understanding the nuances of testing techniques for wind turbines, towers, and other critical components. This will make any technician who undertakes it more adept at performing tests within the sector. 

As the Renewable Energy Sector grows in the UK, we are going to need far more technicians who have experience in this field to keep up with the demand. Specialising early on in your career safeguards your future, meaning you will be able to secure employment for the long term. 

Training for NDT in the wind energy sector

Becoming an NDT professional in the renewable energy sector, particularly for offshore wind farms, requires a combination of specialised training and education. 

The NDT Renewables apprenticeship at NDT Group, with its GWO training integration, stands out as an excellent pathway for individuals looking for a career in the wind energy sector. 

As the demand for NDT services continues to grow, investing in a career in this field promises an exciting future. 

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