Radiographic testing technicians play an important role in the growing field of nondestructive testing (NDT). Also referred to as RT technicians, these highly trained professionals work in a variety of industries, including aerospace, oil and gas, power, automotive, transportation, waste management, and manufacturing, among others.
More specifically, the expertise of RT technicians is utilized when the need arises to inspect gas and oil pipelines, boilers and metal welding, as well as vehicle and aircraft parts. Because radiographic testing is one of the most versatile types of nondestructive testing, RT professionals are in high demand.
This type of high-tech testing is implemented across so many industries largely due to the fact that it does not damage the machinery or other equipment being tested. Plus, RT methods allow technicians to inspect equipment in a noninvasive way, preventing potential problems and ensuring equipment remains in working order. In some cases, equipment can even be inspected while in use.
With so many industries to choose from, RT technicians are able to learn and grow within their professional field. And because NDT is rapidly growing with no signs of slowing down, the opportunity for advancement is virtually limitless for individuals pursuing a career in RT or other nondestructive testing specialties.
Radiographic testing technicians are professionals in the nondestructive testing industry who are able to evaluate internal and external defects, determine alterations in thickness, and recognize details regarding how a structure is assembled through the use of X-rays and gamma rays. Technicians use their RT knowledge to test welded joints. This process allows them to identify potential problems, such as inclusions and cracks, and accurately measure the structure’s level of porosity.
To conduct the necessary tests, RT technicians may utilize several tried-and-true testing methods, including traditional film radiography, as well as digital radiography, digital tomography, real-time radiography, and computed radiography, or a combination of these methods.
The techniques RT technicians implement come with a multitude of impressive advantages. These professionals are able to evaluate assembled components and observe any internal or external defects. Their methods also provide a permanent record of their findings, and the techniques used typically require minimal preparation of surfaces in order to conduct these radiographic tests.
While there are entry-level job opportunities in the NDT field, many employers prefer or require certification and hands-on experience when hiring RT technicians. Knowledge and training in multiple NDT methods may also be required for certain positions.
There are nondestructive testing certificate and degree programs offered at colleges, universities, technical schools, and training institutes throughout the U.S., and many institutions offer radiographic testing programs that meet the requirements for level I, level II, and level III certifications. Some of these degree and certification programs allow students to work online at their own pace. Distance learning can be an excellent choice for individuals who are currently employed or don’t have reputable schooling options in their area.
In addition to formal education, employers often prefer that RT technician candidates possess the following skills and capabilities:
The vast majority of employers will list educational, training, and experience preferences and requirements on individual job postings, so it’s important that job seekers check these requirements. Although some companies require only a high school diploma or GED, technical training, a certificate, or degree, others prefer on-the-job training and/or months or years of experience. These requirements give RT technicians the opportunity for exponential growth throughout their careers.
While the average annual income of a level I NDT technician is currently $53,300 according to Payscale.com, the median salary for individuals with radiographic testing skills is much higher, with an average base salary of $78,306. That breaks down to $1,440 per week, or $36 per hour, making RT one of the top-paying NDT specialties.
Level III RT technicians can expect to earn an average of $95,000 per year. Salary.com reports that these experienced technicians can make up to $123,525 annually, or $61.76 per hour. The potential for higher pay is even greater thanks to bonus and overtime opportunities, as well as raises earned due to longevity and advancement.
Along with competitive wages for RT technicians of all skill levels, an ongoing survey published on Payscale.com notes that the majority of individuals working in the RT field are highly satisfied with their career path. It’s likely that the high level of job satisfaction could be due largely in part to the potential for growth within the RT industry. Entry level technicians who gain skills on the job and obtain certifications have the opportunity to advance to level II and level III positions.
Thanks to the need for radiographic testing in so many industries, RT professionals are given the choice to remain in a particular specialization or industry, or move onto a more challenging opportunity after mastering the necessary skills in his or her current position. As with many career paths, NDT testing methods continually change and develop, making RT an interesting field with unlimited potential for growth.
Whether you’re looking for your first position as an RT technician, or you’re interested in advancing within the field, there are plenty of job opportunities to help you meet your professional goals.
Surehand is dedicated to connecting NDT and RT professionals with positions that will help them thrive and reach their full career potential. Job seekers are invited to fill out a free online profile, and Surehand will do the legwork, actively searching for open positions that meet your requirements and preferences.
Thanks to Surehand, the tedious job search process is a thing of the past. Best of all, you call the shots when it comes to how much information should be shared with potential employers. In fact, you can opt to remain anonymous until you are ready to share your identity with prospective employers.
While the field of radiographic testing will undoubtedly offer plenty of exciting challenges, your job search doesn’t have to. Surehand is here to take the work out of your job search so you can enjoy each day to the fullest.
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