Temperatures affect everything. Have you ever felt an appliance overheating or felt a cold draft near the back door? You may be able to feel these things, but they are essentially invisible, unless you hire a trained thermographer.
Thermographers are thermal imaging experts. They use specialized infrared cameras to look at temperature differences between objects. Infrared light is part of the invisible electromagnetic spectrum ranging from .75 to 1000 microns. All objects with temperatures above absolute zero (?459.67° F) emit infrared waves. That covers almost any object you might encounter in your every day life. That infrared energy is proportional to its temperature. Thermographers utilize this information to create thermal images, or thermograms, of temperatures that are visible to the human eye and are easy to understand.
Thermographic cameras have been around for over 25 years. These pricy cameras look similar to video cameras, but they covert invisible infrared waves into thermal images. Those images can be black and white or colored. Typically warmer objects appear brighter in a thermal image – white is really hot, while, black is cold. Thermographers use the images as a form of non destructive testing that helps to prevent issues before they become a problem. Thermographers can use their skills to spot moving targets, find deteriorating components, measure efficiency, identify defects, locate objects, or identify medical issues.
Non destructive testing helps people save money, reduce damages, increase efficiency, improve products, and even identify medical issues. It’s preventative maintenance that has many different niches where it can be applied. Depending on the job, thermographers may apply their skills to track thermal heat loss, detect gas leaks, identify brake or engine performance, evaluate heating and air conditioning units, design tire treads, map fires, inspect buildings for moisture, find roof leaks, use night vision, examine medical injuries, identify developing cancer, help with search and rescue missions, perform electrical inspections, or create thermal maps. Interpreting requires a highly trained thermographer to correctly interpret results.
To truly understand thermal imaging, thermographers need to have a solid grasp of heat, energy laws, and thermal dynamics. Most have degrees in engineering or science. Others learn this skilled trade through certification from the Infrared Training Center. During this certification process they train with infrared cameras and focus on predictive maintenance in both online and classroom settings. Eventually they specialize in a niche like roofing, home inspection, furnace inspection, radiometry, or gas imaging.
A qualified thermographer can make $35,000 to $65,000 per year depending on certification. Most thermographers average $54,000 per year. Depending on their expertise, thermographers can find jobs in the construction industry, hospitals, thermal imaging companies, oil and gas industry, security and surveillance, wildlife tracking, firefighting, geology, or home inspection. It’s a good idea to join a professional association and to earn certifications to advance your career. It seems that thermography jobs are quickly evolving as new thermal imaging applications are discovered.
If you want to help people “see” the invisible infrared waves of the world so that they can identify and prevent problems, this is the job for you. From leaky roofs to breast cancer identification, skilled thermographers are needed. Become a thermographer today and you’ll enter a growing niche that needs people like you.
Quick Facts About Thermographer Jobs
Job Title: Thermographer, Thermal Imaging Specialist
Office: Variety of locations affected by temperatures
Description: Use a thermal imaging camera to create a visual representation of temperatures differences to identify and to help prevent long term problems
Certifications/Education: Three levels of certification
Necessary Skills: Knowledge of infrared imaging cameras, understanding energy and thermal dynamics
Potential Employers: Self Employed, construction industry, hospitals, thermal imaging companies, security/surveillance, firefighting
Pay: $35,000 to $65,000 per year