By Tamara Horton on Sep 5, 2016 at 9:01 a.m.
BAXTER—At first sight “nondestructive testing” seems like an alarming phrase to someone unfamiliar with the terminology.
However, it is a booming and important business that is right in the lakes area’s backyard.
The American Institute of Nondestructive Testing is a licensed private career school in Baxter that trains students how to perform the necessary tests to locate the indicators and discontinuities that may cause failures or shut downs in systems or equipment.
What does that mean?
Graduates of AINDT are the people who test parts used to manufacture planes, trains, and automobiles. They are the people with the specific knowledge and hands on experience called on to inspect bridges, railways, pipelines, equipment and many other important elements required in everyday life. With infrastructure constantly aging, testing is always needed, which makes jobs in the industry readily available.
Not only are they vital to communities, but they serve an ongoing need that is always changing and adapting to fit new industry standards.
“What we do here is important. You know, you don’t hear about the plane that didn’t fall out of the sky or that bridge that didn’t collapse,” Nortech’s website states.
What kind of courses are there?
There are specific online courses on ultrasound testing, radiography testing, magnetic particle testing, penetrant testing, visual testing, and courses about industry codes and specifications.
Now in it’s third year of operations, AINDT has doubled in size moving into a larger building to accommodate more equipment and students. It is one of the only institutes offering blended learning (online instruction with hands-on experience) for nondestructive testing in the country. Last year, they had 63 graduates with a 97 percent placement in the field. They hope to exceed those numbers this year. Their staff works continuously with students until they find a career path. Job interviews via Skype have even been arranged right at the school.
Don Booth, company CEO and founder, grew up in the area. A graduate of Pequot Lakes High School, Booth “did his time” in the industry working over the road. He worked in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in the oil fields that feed the Trans-Alaskan pipeline as a nondestructive testing inspector and an American Petroleum Institute aboveground storage tank inspector. He opened this institution to help others learn the trade and better their lives financially, academically, and systematically.
He decided to stay in the area to be close to his family. Sticking to his late father Robert Booth’s business motto, Booth said, “You just wake up every day and do the best you can and don’t worry about the competition.” He explained how his business is not just out to make money. They want to give their students value for their dollar.
Having several certifications under his own belt, he is always striving to learn more. Booth hopes to take the business to the international level within a year. This would allow people from any country to partake in their program.
“It’s a process that just takes time,” Booth said. He explained that going international involves a lot more training hours and there are different certification requirements for different regions.
How it works
Tuition is $9,995 per student with an on-site lending program available at 0 percent interest. A substantial discount is offered to students paying cash up front. After completing all required classroom online training—approximately 244 total hours—students then complete practical hands-on training with certified instructors who have worked in the industry which takes 18 days.
The entire program can be completed in six months. Upon completion students are in the field earning between $40,000-50,000 per year to start. Certification is received through their employer after receiving the appropriate amount of hands-on experience and only qualified testing sites offer the exams for certification.
What others have to say about AINDT
“Through many guest speakers and the experience of the instructors, the online class sessions go far beyond the basics and provide a real world foundation that cannot be learned from a book alone,” said current student Myles Colligan.
“The industry needs qualified nondestructive testing technicians everywhere. There is no letup in sight for work in the energy industry and infrastructure rebuilding. We believe in training and that your institute will do well by turning out qualified personnel,” said John Newland, Jan X
NonDestructive Testing and Inspection Solutions CEO.
American Institute of Nondestructive Testing
Number of employees: three
Fun Fact: Owner Don Booth has used his radio-graph equipment to aid construction workers in finding rebar and wiring in floors and walls on construction sites.