Can NDT Keep Up the Pace?

April 8, 2015

The results of our annul NDT Salary & Benefits survey are now available on our website. Responses to the survey indicate a continuing surge in growth across the NDT and quality inspection industries.

The NDT and quality inspection industries appear riding the crest of a wave that is tied to the nationwide economic recover. NDT is still ahead of the national average when it comes to employment and the rate of wage increases. This has been a consistent trend over the past few years. But can this resurgence extend into the years ahead?

All signs say, “Yes.” While U.S. unemployment in 2014 fell to approximately 6%, unemployment in the NDT field dropped even further, to 3.5%. At PQNDT we have been serving a growing number of companies seeking to fill open NDT and quality inspection positions, and many of our candidates are fielding multiple job offers. These are all signs of a healthy and vibrant industry.

Among the highlights from this year’s survey:

  • NDT professionals have an improved outlook on economic stability and employment prospects across the board
  • An average 4% rise in overall compensation levels far outpacing the Consumer Price Index and inflationary rates
  • There continues to be incremental growth in the number of females employed in several industry segments, and in NDT overall
  • There was a slight rebound in Contractor employment, perhaps an indication that companies are struggling to find Full-Time workers

This is all good news for those of us in NDT and quality, as increased manufacturing and construction activities should keep our industry’s own recovery on an upward track.

Click here for your free download of the 2014 Salary Survey! 

The PQNDT Salary and Benefits Survey has been an important benchmark for the NDT industry since its inception in 1994. The survey provides a profile of compensation and benefits in the nondestructive testing field, and examines industry trends by region, industry and NDT certification level.

For additional information about our annual survey, or about current open positions and qualified candidates, please contact PQNDT at (800) 736-3841. Or visit our web site at:


PQNDT 2014 NDT Salary & Benefits Survey Now Online

September 2, 2014

Feedback from professionals in nondestructive testing and quality inspection is being sought by PQNDT, Inc., a personnel recruitment and placement organization serving the NDT industry. PQNDT is asking participants to complete the company’s 20th annual NDT Salary & Benefits survey. The survey is available online here.  NDT professionals will be able to access and complete the brief questionnaire through October 31, 2014.

PQNDT’s survey is designed to provide insight into compensation, benefits, and employment trends in the NDT and quality industries. The survey results measure trends in salary, hiring, and other important industry information. The data is compiled by region, industry, and certification level, affording NDT professionals a “snapshot” of the industry in all parts of the United States.

Preliminary results of this year’s NDT Salary & Benefits Survey are expected to be available at the annual ASNT Conference in Charleston, SC, in late October.

For more than 40 years PQNDT has been the leader in both contract and permanent placement for the NDT industry. Employers and candidates in all industries have come to rely on PQNDT to help them find “the path to the perfect job.” The company’s NDT Salary & Benefits Survey has become an industry benchmark. For additional information visit

Transitioning from Contract to Full Time

April 10, 2014

By Michael P. Serabian

President, PQNDT, Inc

The most dramatic trend emerging from the results of our recently completed 2013 NDT Salary & Benefits survey is the surge in hiring for full-time positions. After several years in which cautious employers hedged their bets by doling out work to contractors, the steadily improving economy has given companies the confidence to once again start filling positions with full-time employees.

This presents two kinds of challenges for NDT contractors. One: How do you make a smooth transition from contractor to full-time employee? Two: How do you survive a dwindling pool of assignments if you wish to remain an independent contractor?

Right now the easier option may be to make the switch to full-time. The benefits of full-time are obvious, including a steady income stream, health care, vacation time, educational assistance, and the opportunity to work in a team environment. You know what to expect from day to day.

While it is far from a “seller’s market,” the growing need to fill NDT positions does provide ample opportunity for an experienced and certified NDT professional to seek out and find a full-time job in the industry or geographic area of choice. The key is to make sure you are able to demonstrate the skills and experience that employers are seeking.

The economy has not progressed to the point where companies are eager to hire entry-level inspectors who then have to be trained. Instead employers are looking for qualified NDT technicians with established credentials who can step in and start producing right away. Many companies are willing to pay higher compensation for a proven performer.

Where does this full-time hiring trend leave NDT and quality inspectors who prefer the “nomadic” life of contract work? A strong 68% of respondents to our survey who identified themselves as contractors are still “very confident” about finding assignments this year. Yet 25% reported they are “not totally confident,” with the rest being “very worried about finding assignments” (6%), or say “finding assignments is almost impossible” (1%).

NDT pros who have experience in contract work know that they have to always be looking for the next job while they are working on their current assignment. That rule applies even more strongly now that hiring managers are shifting back to bringing full-time workers on board. Keeping your name afloat as “available” is essential to lining up work and filling up your calendar.

Still, there are industries in which contractors are still in demand, particularly for outdoor inspection work that is affected by the weather, such as construction. Keeping certifications up to date and your name in circulation will help keep the dance card filled.

We are seeing these trends play out in real time on our PQNDT job boards ( A glance at available openings will show the growing demand for full-time workers. But we also have a number of contract opportunities available for workers with the right expertise and experience. Overall, the NDT industry continues to regain the strength and vitality lost during the protracted recession.


Michael Serabian is president of PQNDT, Inc., the NDT and Quality Inspection industry’s leading personnel recruitment and placement agency. For additional information, please contact him at (800) 736-3841, or visit our web site at








The Results are In: Our Annual NDT Salary & Benefits Survey

March 11, 2014

The results of our 2013 NDT Salary & Benefits survey have been tallied and are now available to the NDT and quality inspection industries at

The story behind the numbers continues to be the recovery of the U.S. economy. The rising level of industrial activity has led to a higher sense of confidence among NDT professionals in almost every sector (with Defense being one exception), and in most geographic regions.

The results of the survey justify this optimism. The overall NDT profession continues to outperform other industries in terms of employment. While the national unemployment rate improved from 7.8% to 7.0% during 2013, the unemployment rate in NDT was just 4%.

The confidence was not only among workers, but was led by those doing the hiring. Proof of this is the resurgence in Full-Time NDT positions. While the economy was struggling many NDT positions were filled by Contractors, with employers unwilling to make a long-term commitment. In the past two years this trend has been reversed, with a strong rise in Full-Time employment and simultaneous drop in Contract assignments. Since 2011 Full-Time employment among NDT professionals has grown by 7%, an indication that employers are confident of a more stable future.

Compensation has risen as well. Average compensation for Full-Time NDT workers rose more than 4% in 2013, to $102,977. The increase in compensation was approximately the same at all certification levels.

On the downside, Contractor openings saw a reduction of 2% during 2013. This is reflected in a big increase in the number of Contractors who are “very worried” about finding future assignments, which rose to 14% in 2013 from only 8% the previous year. Contractors are also less optimistic about the economic recovery. Less than half of Contractors surveyed (49%) feel secure in their positions, a huge drop from the 66% response just one year ago.

With all signs pointing to the economic recovery continuing, we predict that these positive results in NDT and quality inspection will also carry on. While not all industries or workers are enjoying the same pace of growth, the NDT and quality inspection industries appear to be among those that are playing a key role in the recovery.

The PQNDT Salary and Benefits Survey has been an important benchmark for the NDT industry since its inception in 1994. The survey provides a profile of compensation and benefits in the nondestructive testing field, and examines industry trends by region, industry and NDT certification level.

Be sure to visit to download a copy of the full results of our 2013 NDT Salary & Benefits survey.

Survey Says… NDT Economy Continues to Improve

December 11, 2013

By Michael P. Serabian

President, PQNDT, Inc. 

While we are busily tabulating the data from of our annual NDT Salary & Benefits Survey (the full results should be ready to publish just after January 1), I would like to share with you some preliminary results. In particular, the findings from the questions we asked this year to gauge the industry’s opinion on the economy and employment prospects.

These are the same questions we asked last year in our 2012 survey, the results of which accurately predicted an improvement in both hiring and job security during the past year. If the insight of the respondents holds true again, 2014 should be another year of gains for the NDT and quality inspection industry.

Full-time employees who responded to our survey are pretty optimistic about the economy and their jobs. More than half believe the economy is improving, as 4% think the economy is “recovering strongly” from the recession, and 48% think the country is still pulling out of the recession slowly, up 7% from last year.

Perhaps that is why 47% of full-time NDT employees think their job is “very secure,” while an additional 37% say they are “pretty safe.”

Job prospects seem to be improving, as 16% said they are “much better” than in 2012, and 34% believe job prospects are a “little better.” Only 6% of full-time respondents thought job prospects had dimmed in 2013.

Contract workers are also divided about the state of the economy and the NDT industry. More than half (51%) feel the economy is slowly pulling out of the recession, up from only 33% who felt that way last year. But 48% think the economy is “still in recession” (28%) or “getting worse” (20%).

Yet half of the contractors who responded to our survey think job prospects have improved over last year (36% say a “little better” and 14% say “much better”). More than two-thirds of the contractors surveyed (68%) say they are “very confident” about finding new contracts in the year ahead.

What this will all mean for the NDT and quality inspection industry in 2014 remains to be seen. But the overall mood of those NDT professionals who took part in our annual survey can only be categorized as positive.

One area that will almost certainly be affected is hiring. Employers who are seeking to fill their growing need for qualified NDT technicians will be facing a job market that favors job seekers, a significant reversal from just a few years ago. With the unemployment rate in the NDT industry at less than 4%, finding the best person for the job will be more challenging in 2014.

How do you feel about the economy? How do your compensation and benefits stack up against the rest of the NDT industry? Where are the new jobs located? Which industries were hiring in 2013?  We’ll have all the answers for you when we release the full results of annual NDT Salary & Benefits Survey in a few weeks. Be sure to visit in early January to view the full report.

Michael Serabian is president of PQNDT, Inc., the NDT and Quality Inspection industry’s leading personnel recruitment and placement agency. For additional information, please contact him at (800) 736-3841, or visit our web site at

You Can Make an Impact through Our Annual NDT Salary & Benefits Survey

October 8, 2013

Since 1994 PQNDT has conducted an annual survey among NDT and quality assurance professionals. This survey is designed to compile data that, when analyzed by our team, paints a broad picture of industry compensation and hiring trends. Our survey tracks changes in salary levels, trends in benefits, and other key information based on industry, geographic location, and certification level.

We like to think of it as an annual, full-body physical for the NDT industry.

By compiling comprehensive data from those who work in NDT and quality inspection, our hope is to keep the industry moving forward year after year towards a more successful future. If we identify troubling trends, we can work together as an industry and to correct them. When we see positive trends, we can celebrate the driving forces behind them. This survey is designed to help NDT professionals to understand where they stand in the industry by providing key benchmarks on which they can judge their own performance.

Last year’s survey showed that our industry viewed our nation’s economy with cautious optimism. Has the rapidly accelerating economic recovery reached the NDT industry? Have salaries kept up the pace? Are employers restoring benefits that were lost during the recession? We want to know, and we need your help!

If you are an NDT professional, please take 5 minutes to complete our 2013 survey on-line:

Please note that our survey will be open for your participation for just a few weeks. So please take a few minutes now to complete the survey on-line.

NDT professionals are extremely hard working people, and have proven to be proactive in seeking career opportunities. This year we eagerly await the results of the survey, specifically the trends in compensation and hiring, as these results tend to be a microcosm of our nation’s current economic trends.

Make your voice heard by participating in our annual survey today.


Michael Serabian is president of PQNDT, Inc., the NDT and Quality Inspection industry’s leading personnel recruitment and placement agency. For additional information, please contact him at (800) 736-3841, or visit our web site at

How to Motivate Today’s Workforce

July 11, 2013

By Michael P. Serabian
President, PQNDT, Inc.

We’ve all been there at one time or another. Sitting at work with no desire to actually work. There are many reasons why employees lack motivation. Maybe the work isn’t interesting, or the end reward for doing the work isn’t enticing enough. Maybe you hit the snooze alarm twice this morning and just don’t have it in you to “give 110%.”

According to a 2013 survey conducted by Ragan Communications, only 10% of the American workforce looks forward to going to work every day. Once there, only 19% are actually satisfied with the job they are performing. What business can expect to prosper if so few of their employees feel motivated to do their job?

Whatever the reason for unproductive workdays, companies are missing out on valuable work hours from their employees if they are not working to keep them motivated. Ultimately, there is a real danger of losing an employee altogether, and not just for monetary gain.

So what does work to motivate employees today? The answer might surprise you. Here are a few statistics from Ragan:

• Recognition- 83% of employees said recognition for their contributions is more fulfilling than rewards or gifts
• Growth- 76% said opportunities for growth were the top reason they stayed with an organization
• Fun- 90% find a fun work environment extremely motivating

Notice that not one of these motivating factors involves a bigger paycheck. The Ragan survey revealed that 70% of workers are more motivated by non-monetary rewards at work. In the majority of cases, more money does not equal more motivation. What employers need to do is develop reward systems that will engage employees, instead of simply dangling a higher salary like a carrot in front of a mule.

These reward systems can be as simple as public recognition, letters of gratitude from the company to its employees, or free refreshments in the break room. They can also be more complex, like creating more room for growth for those employees who work harder. And don’t forget about the 90% of workers who find a more fun work environment to be more motivating. Encourage your employees to make their work more enjoyable by cultivating a fun, more relaxed work place.

Taking a different approach to motivating employees will become even more critical as member of the so-called “millennial generation” enter the workforce in greater numbers. These younger workers have been raised in an environment of instant communication – and instant gratification. They are supremely capable, but have been conditioned to expect recognition and approval for everything they do. Employers who ignore this cultural trend do so at their own peril.

Work with your employees on ways to make their jobs more enjoyable and engaging. Their suggestions could lead to a positive change in your work environment, and a workforce that is in the coveted 10% of people who look forward to going to work every day.

Michael Serabian is president of PQNDT, Inc., the NDT and Quality Inspection industry’s leading personnel recruitment and placement agency. For additional information, please contact him at (800) 736-3841, or visit our web site at

How to Research a Potential Employer

June 12, 2013

By Michael P. Serabian
President, PQNDT, Inc. 

With the economy improving, the job market for NDT and quality inspection professionals is expanding to near pre-recession levels. While unemployed and underemployed NDT technicians have had to jump at any almost opening in recent years, many are now finding they have multiple opportunities and more flexibility in choosing a new job.

This is particularly good news for those NDT professionals who are already employed but are seeking to improve their careers with an upward move. A more competitive job market means they have a chance to make a smart move to a company or industry of their own choosing. But it also offers the challenge of determining just where you want to take your career.

There are two ways to find the “right” company for your career and life. Both should be used simultaneously to maximize the chances of uncovering your dream job.

The first approach is to market yourself aggressively. This means crafting a “killer” resume that shines a light on your capabilities and accomplishments, then getting it into the hands of as many potential employers as possible. The challenges surrounding this technique are multiple. If you are already employed you may not want to risk exposing your job search publicly. Of more concern, you simply can’t know about every company in NDT that is actively hiring. That’s where technology can help, in the form of an on-line jobs database or recruitment service that can showcase your resume anonymously to a wide array of potential employers.

The second step you should take is to research those companies that you feel will be a good fit for you both personally and professionally. Your criteria might include:

  • Type of work the company performs
  • Geographic location in which you would work
  • Salary and benefits
  • Potential for advancement
  • Financial stability of the business.

By creating a “best scenario” for yourself you can begin to narrow down the potential employers who fit the description. At this point go back to the web to learn as much as you can about those companies that make your short list of desirable employers. What certifications will they require? Is hiring done through a human resources department or directly by managers who are “on the line”? What types of customers do they serve? Do they have a single location? Might you be asked to relocate? How well do they pay?

Doing your homework can pay off by smoothing the career path that is rolling out ahead of you. But in order to advance down that path you must first get a foot in the door in the form of a formal interview. Knowing which company you want to work for means nothing if, 1.) They aren’t hiring; or 2.) You can’t get an interview.

That’s where a resource like PQNDT can help. Once you’ve done your research on the type of company you want to work for, PQNDT can provide access to a wide range of open jobs to find you an interview at a company that fits your criteria. We’ll even work with you on your interview skills and help you to come up with a plan to stand out in an ever-growing pile of electronic resumes. By working together with PQNDT, you’ll put yourself in a position to move ahead in your NDT career.

Michael Serabian is president of PQNDT, Inc., the NDT and Quality Inspection industry’s leading personnel recruitment and placement agency. For additional information, please contact him at (800) 736-3841, or visit our web site at

Life in NDT After Retirement

May 15, 2013

By Michael P. Serabian

President, PQNDT, Inc.

There is a new pool of talent out there that employers in the NDT and quality inspection industry are tapping at an increasing rate – retirees.

We’ve seen this trend in action here at PQNDT, with an influx of retirees joining our contract division and then going to work as contractors, primarily for their former employers. We’ve been able to facilitate the transition from full-time work to contract consulting, assisting with the details and requirements that go along with self-employment. Here’s what we have found…

As the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age in increasing numbers, many experienced NDT professionals find that they want to continue to work after retirement. In some cases, they must work to supplement diminished retirement income. Others simply want to remain active and involved in the industry to which they have devoted so many years.

Whatever their reason, retirees have much to offer potential employers. According to the 2012 Transamerica Retirement Survey, “the majority of workers in their Fifties and Sixties plan to work after they retire, with 52% reporting that they plan to work part-time and about 9% reporting that they plan to work full-time. Fewer than one in five workers (19 percent) do not plan to work after they retire.” This represents a significant number of workers with valuable experience.

The most common way for a retiree to continue working in the NDT industry is by becoming a contractor. In many instances, the first contracting gig comes directly from the person’s former full-time employer. This allows the employer to retain the former employee’s knowledge, certifications and “institutional awareness” that had been built up over years of work, at a lower overall cost.

For the retiree, contracting work provides a chance to stay connected and active, while earning additional income. The income part is becoming increasing important, as pension plans are disappearing, retirement savings have been diminished, and out-of-pocket health care costs continue to rise.

However, there are cautions for both employer and the newly minted contractor. Employers must be careful not to treat a former employee as if he or she was still on the payroll. For one thing, the IRS and state tax authorities are ramping up scrutiny of the “employee vs. contractor” relationship in an effort to collect additional payroll taxes.

For the retiree, becoming a contractor requires more than just a willingness to continue to work. First, you need to determine how much time you are willing to devote to contracting work. Do you want to create a second career for yourself? Or simply pick up a few hours of work from time to time? Will you work only for your former employer?

Skills and experience in NDT can easily be transferred to other projects, opening up the possibility of expanding your contracting work with other companies. However, this may require you to travel to job sites, which is something not all “semi-retirees” are eager to do. If you do want to expand your horizons, you’ll need to put some effort into finding contracting work. Resources like PQNDT’s on-line job search can be very helpful, as can connections within the industry.

No matter how many hours you devote to contracting, you will need to become the manager of your new career. This includes activities like invoicing the company hiring you to do the work, filing a Schedule C with your tax returns, and paying quarterly estimated taxes to the IRS. Plan on spending some additional non-paid hours “taking care of business.” This is where the resources and guidance of a contract management company (like PQNDT) can be invaluable.

The overall picture for retirees continuing to contribute to the NDT and quality inspection industry as independent contractors is very positive. As the economy continues to recover and the labor market tightens, filling open positions with experienced, skilled older workers is an attractive alternative for both employers and retirees.


Michael Serabian is president of PQNDT, Inc., the NDT and Quality Inspection industry’s leading personnel recruitment and placement agency. For additional information, please contact him at (800) 736-3841, or visit our web site at



Staying Ahead of the Certification Curve

April 3, 2013

By Michael P. Serabian
President, PQNDT, Inc. 

It is a given that professionals in nondestructive testing will be certified. But how these certifications come about and how future NDT workers will be certified is a subject of debate. “The Expansion of Certification,” an article published in the February 2013 issue of Quality magazine provides an excellent overview of the current state of certification. The author is Robert D. Nichol, a quality assurance manager at TUV Rheinland Industrial Solutions in Aliquippa, PA.

Since 1966, certification in the U.S. has meant meeting guidelines established by ASNT (American Society for Nondestructive Testing). That organization’s SNT-TC-1A recommended practice document provides recommended requirements for training, education and practical examinations for the three main levels of certification with which we are all familiar. These guidelines have been broadly agreed upon and followed in the NDT industry for nearly 50 years.

Nichol points out, however, that ASNT has not stood still during that time. In 2006 the organization produced “ASNT Standard for Qualification and Certification of Nondestructive Testing Personnel” (CP-189). CP-189 adds two additional certification levels (Trainee and Instructor) to Level I, Level II and Level III, and is more specific in its requirements.

While ASNT’s standards are applied to commercial NDT activities, the U.S. military has established its own set of NDT certification rules. While similar to CP-189, they have certain additional requirements that must be met by individuals and companies testing military hardware or working on government contracts.

Finally, Mr. Nichol outlines NDT certification in the European Union, which is both more stringent than U.S. certification standards and industry-specific. He points out that American companies doing business in an increasingly global economy will have to pay attention to the European EN-473 standards.

Whether you are an established NDT professional seeking to further your career, or are in the market for a new position in the NDT industry, it is imperative that you are aware of certification requirements, the rules governing certification, and the steps you must take to ensure you have the experience, education and training necessary.

Take the time to read Robert Nichol’s article in the February issue of Quality magazine to get a clear view of the NDT certification picture. Or log on here to view the article on-line:


Michael Serabian is president of PQNDT, Inc., the NDT and Quality Inspection industry’s leading personnel recruitment and placement agency. For additional information, please contact him at (800) 736-3841, or visit our web site at