“What kind of training do I need?”
The most frequently asked question of any potential thermographer.
Despite many forms of training being offered, the answer in my opinion is quite simple… start with a Level 1 Certified Infrared Thermographer course and work your way up from there. Level 1 will provide a budding thermographer with the most comprehensive overview of what they need to know to become proficient in the field, across virtually all applications. Level 1 provides comprehensive insight into the major thermography applications (electrical, mechanical, building sciences) as well as fundamental grounding in infrared theory, equipment selection, camera operation, industry standards and standard compliant reporting.
There are 3 levels of formally recognised training. ASNT SNT-TC-1A designates these as levels 1, 2 and 3 while ISO 18436-7 designates these as CAT 1, 2 and 3. These levels and the required curriculum are detailed in the respective standards.
The rate that each thermographer progresses will be up to the individual, but in general the more your learn the better you will become.
Human nature is to save time or money, and as a result we try and take shortcuts. Thermographers are no exception and many try to get away with minimal training… but it will cost them in the long run. Improper equipment, poor technique, missed exceptions, on-going unplanned failures or faults occurring, poor or incomplete documentation… all these elements provide evidence of inexperience or lack of training (or both) and will cost your reputation or even expose you to liability.
Performing a professional infrared inspection is much more than being able to simply use a thermal camera.
Most modern thermal imagers are very easy to use and have user interfaces that are commonly found on modern electronic devices found in the home. If you can use a computer, mobile phone or digital home entertainment system, chances are you won’t be too challenged by the interface on a thermal imager. I have no doubt that anyone within a few moments would be capable of capturing and storing images, changing colour palettes and generally being able to navigate their way around the camera.
A professional infrared inspection is all about gathering accurate and reliable data, correctly interpreting that data and then being able to communicate your findings to your end user in such a way that they can make reliable and informed decisions around their maintenance practices, structures or operational processes. This requires a whole lot more knowledge and experience that pressing buttons on your camera.