Nondestructive testing (NDT) has become a booming industry, and job opportunities in this lucrative field are continually on the rise. The high-tech NDT industry is expected to grow by more than $4 billion by the year 2025. With so many training and job opportunities in Houston, Texas, it’s no surprise that the world capital of space exploration and international energy has also become known as one of the most prominent areas in the country for the ever-growing NDT career field.
While on-the-job training is necessary for all NDT positions, many entry-level openings only require a high school diploma or GED certification. Problem-solving skills, attention to detail, excellent vision, communication skills, and the ability to understand verbal instructions are essential for NDT professionals. Technicians must also be able to differentiate between similar colors and be in peak physical condition.
Encouragingly, the NDT field offers a stable, secure career path with plenty of room for professional advancement. Many industries rely heavily on the work of NDT technicians. As technology continues to advance, the NDT field grows with it.
There is a wide variety of career options available for NDT technicians, making this a rewarding occupation for individuals with varying educational backgrounds, experience, skill-sets, and interests.
This article will highlight the Houston NDT job market in particular, including the most prominent industries in the field. We will also cover the average salary range based on your current level of experience, as well as the various types of jobs available. Then, we’ll dive into our tried-and-true process for finding the best NDT jobs in the Houston area.
You’ve probably heard that everything is bigger in Texas, and the workforce is certainly no exception. Not only is Houston a big, beautiful, bustling city; the job market continues to thrive on a consistent basis, drawing more people to the subtropical city each and every year. From the oil and gas industry to manufacturing, technology, and medical institutions, there are an abundance of jobs in virtually any field. According to a recent article published by the Houston Chronicle, the city’s unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in over a decade. In fact, an astounding 70,000 jobs were added from March 2018 to March 2019. Now, that’s impressive!
Just as Houston’s overall employment rate is steadily on the rise, the abundance of opportunities for NDT professionals is just as impressive. From part-time and full-time entry-level NDT technician jobs to advanced openings for individuals who have achieved NDT level II or level III status, there is a steady stream of open positions for folks in the NDT field.
Whether you’re new to the NDT profession, you’d like to develop your skill-set, or you’re on a mission to climb to the top of the field, Houston offers plenty of training opportunities. Education and on-the-job experience are the perfect combination to help you achieve success in an NDT career.
Nondestructive testing allows technicians to examine parts and systems with non-invasive methods of inspection, which is particularly important in industries that would experience a hazardous situation in the event that a part or machine was disassembled or destroyed. NDT is regularly used to evaluate everything from materials and individual parts to welds, entire machines, and systems. This versatility makes NDT a valuable resource for all types of businesses.
Industries that rely on nondestructive testing include:
Nondestructive testing is also prevalent in the medical field, particularly for advances in imaging. NDT is commonly used for:
Because this field is evolving at a rapid pace, the list of industries that can benefit from NDT technology continues to grow as well. Therefore, the above list is non-exhaustive.
To conduct the necessary inspections in the above-mentioned industries, NDT technicians may implement the following methods:
Visual inspection, which happens to be the most common technique. NDT professionals may utilize magnification, high-speed cameras, borescopes, and other visual devices.
Ultrasonic testing, a process that uses high-frequency sound energy to detect internal defects and measures the thickness of a material.
Magnetic particle testing, utilizing magnetic fields to track surface and near-surface problems.
Electromagnetic testing, which involves electric currents and/or magnetic fields to examine the response.
Guided wave testing to generate ultrasonic waves in a pipe and locate internal problems.
Liquid penetrant testing, in which the technician utilizes dye to detect flaws.
Leak testing, which may involve the use of pressure change, bubbles, mass spectrometer testing, and/or halogen diode.
Acoustic emission testing to create stress waves in an effort to locate any problems with a particular part.
Laser testing, which utilizes a trio of laser techniques to assist in the evaluation of a material, part, or machine.
Magnetic flux leakage, using a powerful, low-energy ray of neutrons to observe a part’s structure and interior.
Infrared testing to determine surface temperatures by implementing infrared radiation.
Vibration analysis for detecting vibration to clue the technician in on a part or machine’s condition.
The likelihood of landing an NDT job in Houston is relatively high. There are dozens upon dozens of current openings for NDT professionals of all levels.
Many NDT employers in Houston do not require higher education or specific certifications; however, all NDT positions call for a willingness to learn and adhere to established safety regulations, along with the ability to follow instructions.
For seasoned NDT experts, positions requiring prior experience are not hard to come by. Level II and Level III opportunities are available for qualified individuals. Surehand has streamlined the process, allowing reputable employers to discover you and your talents. More on this later.
As with most industries, the average pay rate for NDT professionals varies greatly depending on education, training, individual skill-set, and experience. The good news? The growth opportunities are virtually limitless, and the average pay increases greatly as a technician gains knowledge and experience.
As of October 2019, the average salary for a level I NDT technician in Houston was $54,500, according to salary.com. That breaks down to $1,090 per week or $27.25 per hour. The website notes that the salary range for entry-level technicians is between $44,000 and $57,100 per year.
Opportunities for level II NDT technicians are abundant in Houston. These NDT experts are awarded competitive compensation, with the average tech making just over $80,000 per year. That’s $1,600 per week or $40 per hour. The overall pay range varies from $72,000 to $86,600.
As mentioned in our introduction to NDT jobs, level III status is relatively difficult to achieve and comes with plenty of responsibility. Individuals in level III positions typically have a science or engineering degree, along with years of experience. The pay median is just over $132,000 annually, which equals out to $2,640 weekly, or $66 hourly.
With the cost of living in Houston being 2% lower than the national average, NDT technicians can live comfortably at any level.
Nondestructive testing is a versatile field, with job opportunities ranging from technician jobs to managerial, engineering, supervisor, and specialist positions. Below, we’ll breakdown each job type:
The chief responsibility of an NDT technician is upholding the company’s safety and dependability standards. Technicians inspect machinery regularly to ensure there are no imperfections that may lead to safety hazards.
Individuals in managerial positions are expected to guide technicians and other associates. As leaders, NDT managers direct staff to perform various procedures to ensure there are no problems or safety concerns. Managers are on a constant mission to improve the inspection process.
Men and women who work as NDT engineers are excellent problem solvers. Applying science and mathematical rules, NDT professionals in engineering positions develop effective inspection procedures.
In this supervisory role, professionals must have an in-depth understanding of policies and procedures as they pertain to nondestructive testing within their industry. This position involves problem-solving, as well as offering recommendations to correct any problems reported by customers.
People who work as NDT specialists conduct safety tests on vessels, structures, and/or vehicles, and utilize the results to ensure safety standards, procedures, and codes are being upheld. They document all findings, and prepare reports based on test results.
Whether you are a seasoned NDT professional based in the Houston area, or you’re looking to break into the field, finding the position that’s right for you doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Surehand has developed a fast, efficient, and completely free service to streamline the process of connecting you with a position in the NDT field.
Although Surehand will simplify your job search, you will have the ability to update your professional profile, including your skills, experience, qualifications, educational background, and certifications, at any time. We’re intent on putting you in the driver’s seat as we work behind the scenes to find your dream job. This complimentary service is intended to reduce underemployment in skilled industrial trades and help you thrive in a position you’ll love.
Stop searching. Let good jobs find YOU.™