So you’ve had some success with your new thermal imager–diagnosing problems and observing thermal anomalies–and now you’re ready to dive deeper. Or maybe you are planning to add infrared thermography to your existing business, but need solid information about how to use the technology. It’s probably not the glamorous side of thermal imaging, but there are many good reasons to consider formal infrared training.
Consider the technical need for training. When using an infrared camera, even for the first time, one quickly realizes that all is not as it seems. Just point it at glass 0r a shiny metal and note the strange reflections. Users need to understand the sources of possible errors and the means to overcome them. Such errors include the effects of wind, target emissivity, solar gain, electrical load, and more. Thermography training also usually covers the basic physics of infrared energy, and the properties of heat transfer. Understanding the big picture can be a huge advantage in diagnosing heat related issues.
Beyond the technical benefits of training, consider the professional and personal benefits. Training and certification offer credibility in the mind of clients and coworkers. Being certified and following proper industry standards or procedures also protects against liability. Establishing contacts in the larger world of infrared thermography is another side benefit of training. It’s good to be able to call someone else for a second opinion sometimes.
Certified thermography recognizes three levels of expertise. While certification bodies vary somewhat in their exact curricula, Level I covers the basics of infrared theory, thermography applications, and common errors. Level II considers target emissivity, in-depth temperature measurement, image analysis, means of verifying findings, and instrument calibration. Level III looks at designing and implementing thermography programs and budgets, long-term condition monitoring, legal considerations, and adherence to industry standards.
Evaluate several factors when choosing a training program. Where is the program available? The larger training organizations usually offer training at various places around the US and even internationally. What is the re-certificaiton process? What about further certification? You may also want to consider whether your certification will be recognized by another trainer, in case you decide to continue the process somewhere else. Be sure the program is compliant with international standards organizations such as ISO and ASNT. And, obviously, you will want to consider price. Most programs cost from $1700 to $2000 and include four or five days of training. Discounts can often be found in conjunction with a thermal imager purchase or another training opportunity. Some of the larger providers of certified thermography training (though there are many more) include: Infrared Training Center, Infraspection Institute, and The Snell Group.
Seminars and Conferences
While the Level I/II/III certification is often intentionally broad in its application, training providers also offer more specialized seminars. Topics include electrical surveys, energy audits, roof analysis, mechanical inspection, etc. Sometimes these are paid courses with an accompanying certificate. Often they are offered simply as a free resource to the infrared community. These seminars are an excellent way to gain an introduction to infrared thermography.
Conferences are another great training resource. They may arguably be your best resource, since all these forms of training are usually available at or preceding one of the major conferences. The conference format also allows you to investigate many avenues of infrared thermography at one time. The tradeshow at a conference brings opportunities to examine new products, and experts abound for answering any question. And, of course, a conference is a great resource for meeting others in the industry. The two major conferences in thermography are IR/INFO from the Infraspection Institute, and InfraMation from the Infrared Training Center.
Thermography training can be a great opportunity for your company. Better training can lead to greater efficiency, fewer errors, less liability, and more client leads. Better training is just better business.