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Some of the best trades to learn are well known, but the booming industry of Nondestructive Testing (NDT) deserves more attention.  You’ve likely heard of opportunities for electricians, plumbers, construction managers, and heavy equipment mechanics. Nondestructive Testing (NDT) is a lucrative field in high demand across the United States. NDT ranks high as one of the best trades to learn, in terms of accessibility, training, and salary.

The Best Trade To Learn: Nondestructive Testing

Nondestructive Testing (NDT) is the inspection and testing of materials and equipment without negatively affecting or destroying them during inspection, saving businesses time and money. NDT is the best trade to learn in terms of ensuring a safer world and reducing operational costs and material waste. This field is one of the more technical trades, but with the right training it is a straightforward process to become NDT certified.  

Learn More About NDT Training.

Vocational schools are a good fit for individuals who want to pursue NDT certification. Some NDT methods are as simple as visually inspecting a piece of equipment for faults.  Other NDT processes are more complex.  NDT radiography uses gamma rays or X-Rays to look through an object to find problems or defects.  Ultrasonic testing uses high-frequency sound waves to locate changes in the properties of a material.  NDT prevents accidents and reduces repair costs.  NDT is one of the best trades to learn that operates on efficiency and assures safer products are being used in our world.  

NDT applies to a variety of technology, methods, and industries including inspection throughout the construction and maintenance of:

  • Aircraft
  • Nuclear Facilities
  • Refineries
  • Trains and railways
  • Automobiles
  • Aerospace craft
  • Bridges
  • Pipelines

With infrastructure constantly aging, the demand for NDT technicians continues to increase. Skilled trades are vital to communities, and they serve an ongoing need that is always changing and adapting to fit new industry standards.  We don’t hear about planes that fly as they should or bridges standing securely because NDT technicians work to maintain and improve the standards of quality we’ve come to expect.

Let us customize a training program that meets your requirements.

Learn A Trade

The opportunity for high-paying trade jobs is growing.  The skilled trades shortage is here now and the demand for new skilled personnel increases each day. Per latest research estimates, there are 10 million unfilled manufacturing jobs globally—with 3 million skilled trade jobs projected in the U.S. alone by 2030—representing $2.5 trillion in economic impact.  There is a high demand to fill these trade jobs.  

One of the biggest factors driving the high demand in the best trades to learn is the mass retirement of workers in the Baby Boomer generation. Boomers—people born between 1946 and 1964—are employed in fields like construction, manufacturing and engineering in much higher proportions than their younger counterparts. The median age of construction workers is 42, a number that’s increasing over time. Various industry sources indicate the mid-to-upper 40s as the median age for machinists, heavy equipment operators and NDT technicians. For welders, it’s 55.  Companies are hiring people of all ages, to fill the emerging retirement gaps.

NDT Instructor Teaching Two StudentsSkilled trades is one of the job categories with highest potential, according to economic models.  Numbers from the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) reveal that 10,000 electricians retire from the field each year, but only 7,000 new workers join it. For welders, the figures are even more daunting. One estimate from the American Welding Society (AWS) predicts we’ll see a shortage of 400,000 welders by 2024—that’s the size of the population of the entire city of Tulsa, Oklahoma!

We’re in the midst of a period of unprecedented opportunity to break into the best trades to learn and have your pick of high-quality jobs. For employers, it means trade jobs will likely remain highly competitive to win the best workers for many years to come.

We offer the most convenient and affordable NDT training program available.


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Trade Courses and Nondestructive Testing Salaries

According to the Georgetown Center, the U.S. offers 30 million jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree and pay an average of $55,000 per year.  The U.S. Department of Education reports that individuals with training in the best trades to learn or vocational careers are more likely to be employed than their counterparts with only academic credentials.  Individuals in trades are significantly more likely to be working in their fields of study.  

NDT is one of the best trades to learn because of the high salary and potential for growth.  In 2014, NDT technicians with the following certifications made these average salaries, that are higher today:

  • Level 1 certification: $53,259
  • Level 2 certification: $85,137
  • Level 3 certification: $110,512

The highest paid NDT technicians find employment with companies that specialize in construction, laboratory services, petrochemical industries, as well as manufacturing and power generation.  The best trades to learn in NDT have seen up to 63% salary increases in just 8 years.  

The most encouraging news about the best trades to learn in NDT is that vocational training does not require taking out college loans to earn this level of pay.  No prior industry or class experience is needed to begin NDT Level 1 certification training.  Invest less time and money and earn an excellent salary.  Now is the time to pursue one of the best trades to learn and explore NDT training opportunities. 

For More Information About NDT Training Programs At AINDT.

Physical strength should not be a deterrent to jobs in NDT.  Safety is a main part of the NDT industry and you are not expected to do things that an individual cannot physically accomplish.  Technology, machinery and equipment help NDT technicians with things that are not humanly possible to move.  It’s important to break the stigmas that trades require more physical strength.  

Myths about skilled trades also include ideas that trade jobs are all dirty, or that they are for people who couldn’t make it through college.  Let’s get rid of these stigmas.  You don’t turn to trades because you cannot do anything else.  You choose a trade because you are willing to work hard and obtain your certification.  Apprenticeship programs require commitment.  However, the payoff for individuals who commit to the best trades to learn is real and more immediate, in terms of job placement and opportunity.  You can break stereotypes everyday.  Now is an ideal time to enter skilled trades as training is readily available and industries continue to demand additional employees. 

Best Trade Schools

The American Institute of Nondestructive Testing (AINDT) actively recruits and encourages individuals to participate in NDT training to gain certification.  People have lives, family and commitments.  AINDT makes it as easy as possible to get an education to begin a high demand career with great pay and move forward in life.  The reality is that the best trades to learn, more often than not, lead to high demand careers in a short time frame of education, which is what people are looking for in today’s economy,” states Donald Booth, CEO of AINDT.  

When considering NDT as one of the best trades to learn, AINDT provides the most convenient and affordable NDT training available. AINDT’s blended learning program offers you the convenience of online training from wherever you may live.  Online training is followed by hands-on training at our facility in Baxter, Minnesota. The combination of online NDT curriculum and 18 days of hands-on training gives you experience with the most up-to-date equipment. This NDT training program gives you the skills needed to enter into a rewarding career in nondestructive testing. Our training program will prepare you for one of the best trades to learn–NDT certification by an employer. Our NDT Technologies Certificate training program offers flexibility with start dates 6 times per year.  Our certified NDT technicians boast a 93% job placement rate.

Only 8 months! High demand career

1) Take Classroom Training Online 2) Complete Practical Training 3) Start Earning!

NDT certifications depend on which level the technician is aiming for and which inspection method they would like to specialize in. NDT training offers three different levels of certification: NDT Level 1, NDT Level 2, and NDT Level 3.  NDT training and work experience hours are also dependent on the inspection method that the technician chooses to study. Simpler methods typically require fewer hours than more complex methods. For example, visual inspection requires between four and 16 training hours and 70-140 work experience hours, while radiography needs between 40-80 training hours and 210-840 work experience hours.

NDT Certification hand holding NDT testing equipmentThe American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) explains that work experience must be supervised by a qualified administrator. NDT work experience must involve tasks that fall under the NDT technician’s inspection method, including performing the inspection and any related activities. However, work experience does not include time spent in an NDT training program.  

Once a technician has completed their NDT training and work experience, they must pass their certification examinations before seeking jobs in one of the best trades to learn.  Exams include a practical exam to evaluate your ability to perform physical NDT tasks, and a general exam, which evaluates your knowledge on NDT basics.  You will also have to take an NDT specific exam. This will test you on procedures and codes relevant to your specific field of study.  A physical exam is also administered to determine adequate vision and differentiation between colors. Since visual examinations are routine in the NDT field.

NDT training equips technicians in an essential form of inspection for many different industries. The NDT industry is growing rapidly making it one of the best trades to learn, and is expected to be valued at $23.1 billion by the year 2024.  AINDT’s blended learning program allows for more individuals to be able to change careers without disrupting their lives completely by having to relocate or just drop everything to go back to school.

Trades to Learn

NDT is one of the best trades to learn because it will open up job opportunities with excellent pay. The beauty of an NDT certificate is that you can always expand on it. You may opt to only become Level I certified at first, but you can always later build on that training base.  The variety of subfields within the NDT industry provides students with many options to choose from. Individuals beginning their careers, heads of household, and single people can lead the way in NDT jobs, providing for themselves and their families, while saving for the future.

Why NDT certification is one of the best trades to learn:

  • High current demand due to a shortage of skilled trade employees
  • Cost-effective trade schools offer shorter training programs
  • Important and interesting, hands-on work
  • Training is relevant to certification requirements, without unrelated prerequisites that cost more time and money
  • Access job placement programs that provide a faster track to employment 
  • Long-term job security, with opportunities for growth

Working in NDT, one of the best skilled trades to learn, clears the way for other ambitious individuals to follow you into the field.  You can change your future and forge a successful, new career path.  You can demonstrate opportunities in the trades to a new generation, showing that they can break from tradition to pursue a job that fits their lifestyle and provides the income they deserve.  

For More Information About NDT Training Programs.

NDT Training FAQs

Can I take an individual online NDT course from AINDT?

Yes, AINDT does offer individual online NDT courses.

Individual courses are best for people who are already in the NDT industry and are looking to expand their NDT methods education.

If you are looking to start a career in nondestructive testing as an NDT technician, an individual class isn’t the quick fix you are looking for.

Our full "NDT Certification" training program is what you’ll need to start your NDT career.

When I get done with the NDT Technologies Certificate Program will I be certified?

You will be well on your way, but you will not be immediately certified. After you complete the NDT Technologies Certificate Program, you will have the required education to become certified, then you will need on-the-job training hours. AINDT works with you to be placed and employed with a great company. After the appropriate amount of on-the-job NDT training experience hours you receive while working, you will be given exams to become certified in the various NDT methods by your employer.

What is the difference between a licensed private career school and the community college?

The American Institute of Nondestructive Testing (AINDT) is a private career school that offers a certificate program. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education has licensed AINDT as a private career school.

A private career school like AINDT teaches people how to get into a specific career. Instructors at AINDT teach you job specific knowledge you need to succeed in the field of nondestructive testing. That's one of the reasons we are able to get people trained affordably, properly and more quickly than a traditional trade school.

At a community college there may be courses you may have to take before you even get into your career coursework. With AINDT, we're just teaching you NDT related coursework.

What if I did poorly at high school or in a previous college life? Am I able to still get a career or a certificate in nondestructive testing at AINDT?

Absolutely. Our instructors are there to give you any support you may need to successfully complete your coursework.

We train and teach people who haven't been in high school for many years. Our coursework and training is easy to understand and done at your own pace. Once you complete the online portion of your curriculum, you will attend our Baxter, MN facility for your hands on training, where you will work directly with instructors performing actual inspections, recording results, and preparing reports. Throughout the duration of your certificate program with AINDT, you will learn the necessary information needed to be successful in NDT.

What additional costs beyond my tuition will I have with the NDT Technologies Certificate Program?

Costs not included in your tuition include:

Travel costs to and from our area and your daily food costs.

Once I complete the NDT Technologies Certificate Program, do I have to travel for work?

Travel is not a necessity, and office and lab positions are available, but there are considerably less jobs that do not require travel than jobs that require you to be away from home for a few weeks at a time.

On the road positions may include: buildings, bridges, pipelines, commercial jetliners, and shipyards. These type of locations are not coming to you, so you'll have to go to them. The wage in these types of positions is traditionally higher - you're getting a large per diem every day - which can make it more lucrative to be on the road.

Does AINDT have a payment plan?

The cost of our NDT Technologies Certificate Program is $12,045.00.

We made our NDT school financing programs easy and affordable with student loans from Meritize and with Income Share Agreements (ISAs) from TradeUp.


Meritize offers student loans that look beyond FICO credit scores and use individual academic history to enhance credit evaluation and improve loan options. Even if your credit isn’t great or you don’t have a cosigner, a Meritize loan may be within your reach. If you do have a cosigner, that helps you even more. As you successfully repay your loan, you’ll be building your credit.

A Meritize Loan Offers…

  • Use your transcript to enhance your credit and improve your loan options
  • Fund the full cost of tuition on your own merit
  • Choose affordable fixed or variable rates
  • Select the repayment option that works best for you while you attend school – making full payments, making interest-only payments, or making no payments until 3 months after graduation
  • Repay your loan over 3 or 5 years
  • Avoid prepayment penalty fees if you choose to pay your loan off early
  • Get access to Meritize Career Success Services for job and career support

Does AINDT have a job placement program?


As soon as you arrive at AINDT for your hands-on training our NDT job placement team immediately starts working hard to find an NDT career that’s right for you.

How much money can I expect to earn?

Our graduates start earning $40,000 to $50,000 per year starting out in the NDT industry. Graduates can obtain further certification and increase their earnings substantially throughout their career. Certified NDT Technicians should anticipate compensation packages to include full insurance benefits and substantially high wages.

Will I always have work?

The Non-Destructive Testing and Inspection industry has been (for the last century), and will be, a growth industry for decades to come. As the infrastructure of America ages, the need for evaluation and advanced examination techniques increases. NDT and Inspection are not job avenues. They are careers.