The NDT Guide to Answering: What Do You Do?


4 steps on how to explain what NDT is and what NDT technicians do when speaking with someone outside the industry  

By Matthew Bucek, Division Marketing Manager

Picture this; you are in a crowded room at a party surrounded by friends, professionals or even strangers; you're sipping on your favorite beverage looking for the next tray of snacks when someone turns to you and says, “So, what do you do?”

What is NDT anyways?

The American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) defines NDT as: “…the process of inspecting, testing, or evaluating materials, components or assemblies for discontinuities, or differences in characteristics without destroying the serviceability of the part or system. In other words, when the inspection or test is completed the part can still be used.” The textbook definition is a helpful answer but does not convey the importance that an NDT professional contributes to the world.

4 Steps to Answer the Question, What do you do?

  1. Talk about how you help people
  2. Tell a relatable story
  3. Skip the technical details
  4. Share the parts you are passionate about

1. Talk about how you help people

A great way to tell others about the work you do is to illustrate how you help to make the world safer or people’s lives better. For example, if you are involved in NDT or quality with any automotive suspension component you can say,

“I help to make sure your cars steering components do not cause your car to veer off the road because of defect in the suspension.”

This type of relatable answer will certainly grab the attention of your audience and potentially turn the small talk into a genuine conversation with incoming questions from the group.

2. Tell a relatable story

Another great way to help others relate to what you do is to tell a story that helps paint a picture. A story allows you to take control of the impression that you leave on the group. If you were to say “I test aerospace turbine blades,” this could allow the group to form their impression without understanding the importance of the work that goes into jet engine inspection. Instead, tell a story about a recent inspection.

“I’m currently working on a project to test an entire fleet of airplane engines to ensure that the turbine blades that propel the plane are in immaculate condition. It’s a critical step to be sure that passengers are safe while traveling.”

Now, people will understand how you contribute to the safe travels of them and their loved ones.

3. Skip the technical details

NDT technicians and those involved in quality have a tremendous passion for their work. That means that they love the details of their daily responsibilities. For a non-technical audience, there is a great chance that you can bore them or lose their interest.

If you follow the guidance in the first two steps by talking about helping people or telling a relatable story, be sure to leave out the technical details. However, after a good story, there may be a follow-up question. In this case, your answer may require a few technical details. However, if they don’t specifically ask, keep it short and sweet.

4. Share the parts you are passionate about

The most important thing to remember is that you should be yourself and share the aspects of the job that you are most passionate about. If you are excited about something, there is a likelihood that your listeners will be excited too. For example, as a marketing manager at Magnaflux, I might say:

“I’m a marketing manager, and I help quality experts and distributor sales teams become more aware of non-destructive testing products. The products are some of the best in the industry, so each time I help someone select a product I know it is making the world a safer place. I get to be technical and creative while working with a great team every day.”


Please tell us what you think!

The next time you find yourself in a conversation and someone asks “What do you do?” use these tips to describe your passion. We are sure the tips will help create a connection to the group. Connect with us on social media and let us know how you answer the question:


What do you do!?


Published October 1, 2019

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