Money isn’t everything, but it sure pays the rent.

Why are you in the NDT or quality inspection field? Do you have a passion for the work? Are you driven by the need to provide an important service to mankind? Do you get a warm feeling knowing that your efforts might prevent a disaster or save a life?

Of course, you might just work for the paycheck that comes every Friday. And that’s okay, too.

For the past decade our company has conducted surveys on salaries and benefits within the NDT industry. We measure hourly rates, salaries and fringe benefits and compare them among full-time and contract workers, between various industries, different certification levels and between different geographic regions across the United States. (You can see the results of our latest surveyhere.)

In reporting the results of our salary survey, I always make sure to point out that an NDT job - any job, for that matter - should not be just about the money. Success in your career should be measured by such factors as job satisfaction, camaraderie among fellow workers and long-term security that allows you to live a comfortable life outside of the work environment.

Still, money is a convenient measuring stick that most Americans understand and appreciate. Even the most interesting and fulfilling NDT job must also provide sufficient compensation. Fortunately, the results of our survey show that our industry is one that offers its practitioners both job satisfaction and the ability to earn a decent living.

Unlike many other industries, NDT also has a fairly well defined career path. As an NDT professional acquires more skills by rising through the certification process from Level I to Level III, he or she is rewarded with more responsibility and additional compensation. Our survey shows that, in 2008-2009, annual compensation for a typical Level I NDT professional was just over $55,000; with Level II earning more than $74,000; and Level III earning more than $93,000.

It is heartening to know that, no matter what your motivation for entering the NDT field, it is possible to make the profession a rewarding career, both personally and financially.