Former Social Worker Finds Satisfaction in Non-Destructive Testing

Industrial Inspection & Analysis (IIA) has the Hamilton Spectator to thank for at least one of its talented team members: Ryan Yaremko.

When the Ontario-based newspaper ran a feature story about non-destructive testing (NDT), it struck a chord in Ryan. At the time, he was looking for a career change after leaving a rewarding-but-draining job as a child and youth social worker.

The story inspired Ryan to complete an NDT program at Mohawk College in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. In January 2017, he joined Domson Engineering & Inspection, part of IIA’s Canadian Services team, as a certified NDT inspector. With industry-spanning work that can range from cranes and storage tanks to bridges and welded components, Ryan never knows what the day will bring.

“You just never know what you’re going to be looking at from day to day, and that’s what makes this job interesting and challenging and exciting,” says Ryan. “We go to different clients and different job sites, and they all have different things that need to be inspected. You have to be flexible and have a vast knowledge to pull from to be able to figure out what’s relevant and what’s not relevant. And you need to know when to ask questions.”

He’s had to answer a few questions, too, from friends and family unfamiliar with his new career path.

“Since I started working in non-destructive testing, I’ve had dozens — if not hundreds — of conversations with family and friends about what I do. Nobody’s heard of NDT, but without it, there would be a lot more accidents,” says Ryan. “We are like the offensive line in football — when you do your job right, you’re not seen or heard from.”

The thing Ryan loves most about the job is the opportunity to pack his bags.

“I am passionate about seeing the world,” says the Ontario native. “The best thing about my job is the opportunity to travel and see different parts of the country.”

One of his most memorable assignments took him to the capital of Nunavet, Canada’s largest and northernmost territory, in 2021.

“To have been one of the few people that will ever be that far north on the planet was a pretty cool experience,” says Ryan, who spent his limited free time on a very specific mission. “Every night that the sky was clear, I’d go out and chase the northern lights.”

One night, Ryan heard wolves howling in the distance and went for a drive along the back roads to see if he could spot them. Instead, sitting on the hood of his rented Jeep, he witnessed something even more magical.

“There were so many colors, shifting and dancing across the sky,” recalls Ryan. “It felt like they were just for me. It was a perfect moment — one of the highlights of my life.”

It’s a moment he almost didn’t live to see.

In 2020, Ryan suffered a major stroke. To make matters worse, around the same time, he went through a move, a divorce, and complications from brain surgery that threatened to leave him permanently disabled.

“It was a dark time in my life, but luckily I came through it,” says Ryan, who got a much-needed boost from his fellow Domson/IIA employees. “While I was off work, my co-workers got together and raised funds to help me out in my time of need. It was the most generous and kind thing anyone has ever done for me, and it truly made me feel better.”

Today, Ryan helps ensure the well-being of others through his work as an NDT inspector.

“One of my favorite things about this job is knowing that most days when we go in to work we are literally keeping people safe —and sometimes keeping people alive. It’s nice to know you’re helping to make the world a safer place.”

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