If you’re just starting out in thermal imaging, you may be surprised at how easy it is to use a thermal imager, also known as an infrared camera.

It takes some basic training to learn what all the buttons are for, how to navigate the menus, and how to focus. You can even learn to capture images pretty quickly. But don’t be fooled into thinking that knowing how to manipulate the controls in a thermal imager is the same as being a thermographer.

That takes more time…and training. The most critical part is learning how to capture a thermal image with enough information to accurately diagnose—or rule out—a problem. Obtaining a Thermographer qualification is an investment of both time and money. But it is an investment that can really pay off in higher quality, more technically consistent inspections, and broader career opportunities.

The amount and type of training you need, like everything else, is based on how you’ll be using the thermal imager. At least some of your training needs to be hands-on in simulated real-world situations. You’ll also need to learn about the laws of thermodynamics and how temperature interacts with its environment on an infrared spectrum, to which you haven’t had much, if any, exposure.

You can learn these concepts from IR trainers, your local college, and, to some extent, online. The key is to choose a reputable trainer that will qualify you to meet national standards for one of these levels of expertise:

Thermographer Training and Qualification Levels
Level 1
This is the starting point. You’ll learn to capture high-quality data and sort it based on written pass/fail test criteria.
Level 2
This level is for thermographers who have been using a thermal imager for a while. Level 2 training, along with prior experience, qualifies you to set up and calibrate equipment, interpret data, create reports, and supervise Level 1-qualified personnel.
Level 3
Level 3 is the most advanced level of thermography certification. At this level, you’ll learn to develop inspection procedures and severity criteria, interpret relevant codes, and manage a thermography program including providing and overseeing training and testing, and calculating the return on investment (ROI) for the program.
Standards
  1. Compliant to ASNT ST-TC-1A
  2. ISO18436-7
  3. EN 16714-1