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Nondestructive Testing can be a Great Career for your Students (Or Anyone)

One of the most important things a counselor can do to help his or her students prepare for life after graduation is to help them develop a plan or strategy for post-secondary education and training. This is especially true for those 30% or more students nationwide whose post-secondary education plans will most likely NOT include attending a college or university.

According to Dr. Randall Hansen, Ph.D., post-secondary education and training are critical for success after high school, but post-secondary education does not necessarily mean college. He said there are numerous other career opportunities and choices out there that do not require a college degree (Quintessential Careers, 2015).

For example, a career in Nondestructive Testing (a.k.a. NDT) involves technicians who are trained to use specialized equipment like x-ray cameras and ultrasound machines to inspect the infrastructure of our world. NDT inspectors are not required to have a college degree and according to a 2015 salary survey from Personnel Qualified for Nondestructive Testing—entry-level NDT inspectors averaged $65,927 annually (pqndt.com, 2015).

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What is NDT?

Everything we use in our daily lives is manufactured or manmade, and nothing manmade lasts forever. Daily news reports about bridge failures or pipeline explosions, or other tragedies are reminders that everything manufactured, MUST be inspected! This type of inspection is called nondestructive testing because the inspection methods used will not destroy or harm the object of the inspection.

NDT inspectors work in a variety of industries including aerospace, petro-chem, nuclear power, wind power, offshore, pipeline, automotive, manufacturing, defense and many more. There are also opportunities to use automated and robotic equipment such as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and drones or perform inspections using rope access equipment. Opportunities for both national & international travel are also available.

Hands-on Training

NDT inspectors are not required to have a two or four-year college degree. They are required to have a high school diploma or GED, and they will need to complete an NDT training program that includes both NDT theory and practical equipment use. The Ocean Corporation provides NDT training in the six most common NDT methods as well as job placement assistance upon graduation.

The Ocean Corporation also provides access to tuition assistance for those students who qualify through the federal student aid program as well as through Texas Workforce Commision, and The American Society for Nondestructive Testing (the professional association for NDT inspectors) annually offers scholarships to high school graduates interested in studying Nondestructive Testing. The majority of NDT education and training with The Ocean Corp will be hands-on, and the training can be completed in as little as seven and a half months.

Great Alternative to College Degree

Most people working in the NDT business today will tell you, “It’s the best job around” and “I wish I would have known about it when I graduated high school.”

NDT inspectors do not sit behind desks and work on computers. It is a hands-on career, and the work is performed either outside or in industrial warehouses.

NDT work is interesting. Inspectors examine bridges, buildings, airplanes, ski lifts, roller coasters, ships, rockets, and just about anything else you can think of that is manufactured.

The work NDT inspectors do is essential. It is a source of great pride for those who do it because it deals with safety. Inspectors must pay close attention to the details and always take their job responsibilities seriously. After all, someone’s family will be flying in the plane after you’ve inspected it, maybe even your own! The majority of inspectors in the industry are men, but the number of women has increased by at least 6% since 2010 (pqndt.com, 2014). Women can be found on most every inspection job there is today. NDT is not a physically demanding job. Inspectors do not repair the flaws that their inspections reveal and rarely will they be required to lift or carry anything weighing more 20 – 30 pounds.

For many high school graduates, training for a career in NDT may be a great post-secondary alternative to college. It offers young men and women an exciting, hands-on career with opportunities for travel, high-income potential and best of all—no college degree is required.

Michael W. Oden, M.A. Ed., graduated from The Ocean Corporation School of Nondestructive Testing in Houston, Texas and has worked in the NDT industry for more than two decades.

 

 

The Evolution of Commercial Diving and its Training

Earth is a water planet. Five oceans surround seven continents dotted with thousands of lakes and rivers. People have swum and dove in the waters of the world for thousands of years both for pleasure and commerce.

The commercial pursuits and opportunities for diving below the water’s surface have changed over the centuries from shallow water, breath-hold diving for pearls and sponges to our present day demands for deep water diving that require the use of large compressors to supply air and mixed gases to commercial divers hundreds of feet below the surface.

Modern day commercial divers are routinely called upon to perform construction, inspection, repairs, and salvage on a variety of structures including bridges, dams, harbors, ports, water towers, nuclear plants, and oil platforms. They perform these functions in both fresh and salt water. With the use of specialized equipment, commercial divers can also access contaminated environments such as water treatment or sewage facilities, as well as chemical and oil tankers, or even nuclear reactor.

The work of a commercial diver is very physical but can also be very exciting. It requires extensive training and knowledge to safely descend into deep and often dangerous conditions to perform challenging tasks. The Ocean Corporation, located in Houston, Texas has provided the specialized training necessary to become a commercial diver for almost 50 years.

Job and skill requirements have changed significantly since The Ocean Corp first began training men and women for oil field commercial diving in 1969. During the first decade of offshore oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), the discoveries made revealed vast reserves of crude oil and gas below the sea floor on the continental shelf. The continental shelf extends out into the GOM approximately 100 miles from the Texas coastline, and water depths on the shelf are relatively shallow, -200 ft or shallower. Commercial divers working in the GOM during the 1970’s constructed the very first platforms for oil production. They rarely dove deeper than 200 feet so, most dives were air dives. Commercial diver training at Ocean Corp during that first decade was designed to meet the demands required of the new offshore oil and gas industry and primarily focused on air diving and underwater welding/burning.

Offshore oil production increased from the late 1970’s to the 80’s. As it did, platforms grew more substantial, and they were being placed in deeper waters. As such, demand for trained commercial divers also increased during this period, and so did the level of skill required to work on the deepwater projects. Recognizing the complexities of deepwater work, The Ocean Corp incorporated mixed gas and bell diving into their training program. Increased depths and bottom times require the use of helium/oxygen breathing gas and diving bells for safe diver transportation from the ship to dive site then back from dive site to deco chambers.

Offshore Safety and Survival, rigging and Nondestructive Testing (NDT) were also added to the program shortly after the introduction of diving bells and mixed gas.

Today, many people consider commercial divers to be some of the most skilled and highly rewarded craftsmen in the world. Since 1969, many commercial divers have been able to attribute their success to the training and job placement assistance they received from The Ocean Corporation.

Students who are currently enrolled in Ocean Corp’s Ultimate Diver Training (UDT) are taught to a variety of different international standards including; SCUBA diving to NAUI Master Diver, air diving, mixed gas and saturation diving, underwater welding, underwater NDT, remotely operated vehicles, decompression chambers, rigging, Offshore Safety and Survival, and they receive a HAZWOPER certification for diving in contaminated environments.

There are almost as many reasons people become commercial divers as there are divers. When surveyed, the top three reasons given by Ocean Corp students are the challenge, love to dive and travel opportunities.

As long as we live on a planet where three-quarters of the surface is water, there will always be a demand for qualified, well-trained individuals to dive in it.