What Is NDT?
Non-destructive testing (NDT) is a wide group of analysis techniques used in science and industry to evaluate the properties of a material, component or system without causing damage. The terms Nondestructive Examination (NDE), Nondestructive Inspection (NDI), and Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) are also commonly used to describe this technology. Because NDT does not permanently alter the article being inspected, it is a highly-valuable technique that can save both money and time in product evaluation, troubleshooting, and research. Common NDT methods in aviation and aerospace include Penetrant, Magnetic Particle, Eddy Current, Ultra Sonic, and X-Ray.
NDT is not only used in aviation but is also in many industries like transportation, manufacturing, energy, including automotive, rail, and ships as well as oil, petro chemical, coal, electrical, hydro electrical, wind, construction with concrete, steel,and even amusement park rides.
10 Good Reasons to Consider a Career in NDT
Our society relies very heavily on NDT technology to keep it as safe a place to live as possible. A great deal of responsibility is placed in the hands of NDT technicians and engineers who keep our aircraft, trains and automobiles operating safely; our pipelines and chemical plants from leaking; and our bridges from collapsing. Therefore, NDT equipment and methods are constantly changing as engineers and scientists work to make the inspection technology better. NDT personnel are highly trained individuals who must continue to learn to stay abreast with changing technology.
Heightened safety and environmental awareness along with demands from consumers for high quality products continue to cause the use of NDT technology to grow. At one time NDT technology was limited to a few high technology and high risk industries such as aerospace and nuclear power. However, today NDT technology is used by a wide variety of industries as the work increases to keep product quality high and scrap rates low.
If you like working with computers and electronics, you will probably like NDT. Computers continue to see more use in both performing scans to collect data or in data logging and processing.
Since the effective application of NDT technologies generally increases with experience, NDT personnel generally gain responsibility the longer they work. Also, the shortage of engineers with NDT backgrounds has made it possible for individuals with NDT technician certification to easily move into engineering type positions. NDT personnel often find themselves in sales, marketing, and management positions. Of course, some also become private contractors and business owners.
The importance of NDT in our society combined with its growing use, continues to provide individuals with NDT background many employment opportunities. Also, college programs are currently failing to provide enough qualified candidates to fill the needs of industry. This combined with the fact that high numbers of NDT workforce will be retiring in the near future, suggest that the demand for personnel with NDT training will continue to increase. The placement of graduates from many NDT programs is 100%.
Money is not everything but it sure helps, right? Due to the level of responsibility carried by NDT personnel and the shortage of qualified workers, salaries are relatively high. Starting salaries upon graduation with a two-year Associates of Applied Science Degree in NDT Technology typically range from $25,000 to $45,000 depending on the job location and responsibilities. The average starting salaries for graduates with Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering range from about $41,000 to $53,000.
There are a number of colleges and universities that offer classes and degrees in NDT technology. Please visit the web pages on education for more information.
It is relatively easy to find “a job,” but finding a job that you really like is a little more difficult. In the field of NDT job conditions vary considerably. If you are a person that loves the outdoors, there are jobs that take you outdoors. If you like a manufacturing setting, there are jobs in manufacturing facilities and if you prefer the laboratory, there are jobs there too. There are even jobs at really exciting places like NASA and offshore oil drilling platforms.
Since the technology is used by a large variety of industries around the world, NDT jobs are not limited to one geographical area. However, most jobs are located in metropolitan areas where large manufacturing facilities are located.
NDT personnel work hard in helping to keep products and systems operating safely. The sense that you are making the world a safer place by helping to prevent accidents and protecting the environment can be very gratifying.
Placement and Pay for NDT Certified Technicians
Employment is always a concern for students when making a career choice. Typically college NDT programs provide placement for graduating students and many boast of placement rates at or near 100 percent. The demand for individuals that have earned an AAS degree in nondestructive testing technology is currently so great that some vocational programs are reporting that students are receiving as many as 18 job offers upon graduation. This employment/graduate ratio has been consistently in favor of graduates for the past ten years. It is expected that this trend will continue far into the future.
An article published in the November 2001 edition of Materials Evaluation reported on a recent workforce availability study conducted by the electric power industry. The study found that the combined effect of several factors is resulting in an acute shortage of NDT personnel. These factors include a low unemployment rate, an NDT labor force with a high number of individual nearing retirement and fewer new workers entering the job market. In fact, in one industry (nuclear power) it is estimated that only 24% of the current NDT workforce will still be on the job by the year 2010. In addition, state and federal requirements for safety in all aspects of industry are increasing day by day and there is no end in sight. While these facts are causing concern among employers throughout the US, they mean that jobs will be plentiful for individuals with skills in nondestructive testing. This trend has opened the door for higher wages and accelerated advancement in NDT personnel careers.
Wages of NDT Personnel
Wages and benefits very widely thorough the industry. Starting salaries typically range from $25,000-$45,000 a year depending on job location. Often wages and benefits are related to graduate knowledge and skill, and job duties. Students graduating an AAS degree program may be well versed on inspection methods, however, job experience is required before industry certifications can be met. It may take a number of months before the technician can be tested for certification. Industry will often increase wages as technicians meet company certification requirements. NDT technology graduates with 5-8 years of experience are currently averaging $52,000 annually which is one of the highest average salaries when compared to other two-year
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