As Manufacturing & Construction Rebound, NDT Growth Follows

With the significant number of jobs in nondestructive testing and quality inspection tied to manufacturing and construction, employment in our industry is closely tied to the strength of these sectors. The bad news is that both suffered greatly during the Great Recession. The good news is that manufacturing and construction both appear to be rebounding strongly.

Sharp increases in orders for durable goods and housing starts are signs of a strengthening economic recovery. But they also portend additional opportunities for NDT and quality professionals.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, January orders for core capital goods (which exclude defense and aircraft components) jumped an impressive 7.2 percent, with numbers up in machinery (up 15.6 percent), electrical equipment and appliances (up 1.1 percent) and fabricated metal products (up 1.1 percent). Aircraft and aerospace were down due to defense budget cuts. Still, the overall picture is brighter.

“When you look since the end of the recession, we’ve had almost 500,000 jobs created in manufacturing, and almost all of those jobs have come from the durable goods sector — primarily aerospace, motor vehicles, metals, computers, and machinery,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers. New hires in manufacturing have averaged about 14,000 per month for the past year.

As for construction, the Washington Post states, “Housing’s renaissance could lead an economic recovery,” citing that after the dizzying, six-year-long crash in home sales, construction and house prices, housing “turned the corner last year, and it will take off in 2013.” Housing starts for single-family homes and permits for future construction reached 4-1/2-year highs in January 2013, and construction hiring increased by 48,000 in February, 2013.

All of this bodes well for the NDT and quality inspection industry. Growth in industries that require quality testing and inspection processes means an expansion in hiring and additional work for NDT professionals. We have already seen a rebound in NDT hiring that started in early 2012, and the latest construction and manufacturing activity will help that trend to continue.

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