Honey, We’re Moving the Kids

If your chosen career were flipping burgers at the local fast food outlet, it might be pretty easy to find a new job. You’d just make a move to another restaurant. It is likely that there are several similar positions available within a radius of a few miles.

But you chose to become an NDT specialist, and NDT jobs are not always as plentiful or so conveniently located. In fact, to make a career move in NDT often requires relocation – a move from one city to another, one state to another, even one time zone to another.

In statistics assembled by PQNDT over the past five years, over 78% of our permanent NDT placements (full time employment with a single company) required relocation to another state. The fact of the matter is that, as an NDT professional, you have to go where the jobs are.

For many job seekers, such a life-altering change can be intimidating enough for them to call off a job search, or to settle for a local job that may not offer the same opportunity. But for those who are intent on having a successful NDT career, relocating for a new position is a challenge that can pay off big.

Your new company can help smooth the move
If you are considering moving to take a new job, help is often available from your new employer. A growing number of companies offer relocation assistance to entice new hires and attract employees who have the necessary skills and experience. According to a 2005 survey conducted by the Atlas World Group (which includes Atlas Van Lines), more companies are picking up the full tab for moving expenses, with 56% of companies giving full reimbursement in 2004 compared with 46% in 1997. Most (89%) companies reimburse or pay for some relocation items for new hires.

It is not an inexpensive proposition. According to the Employee Relocation Council, companies spend as much as $65,000 to transfer a homeowner. Shipping goods cost on average about $10,000; temporary living, $4,000; and home-finding trips, $1,800. If the company pays for closing costs and taxes or takes a loss on a home sale, relocation costs skyrocket.

Negotiating for relocation assistance
If you are offered a new position in another part of the country, find out what help your new employer is willing to offer – before accepting the job. Start by asking if your new company offers some level of relocation assistance. The place to start is with the company’s human resources department. Ask if they have a written relocation policy and a standard package of relocation benefits.

Terms of relocation assistance vary widely, and are often negotiable. Relocation packages differ based on the position and the level of experience of the employee making the move. For example, a Level II Technician might receive partial relocation benefits (i.e. paid U-Haul rental, a mileage allowance, short term hotel costs, etc.). But a Level III Manager might receive a full relocation package including house hunting assistance, paid professional moving service, temporary housing allowance and job hunting help for your spouse. (The Atlas survey found that 41% of companies assist a spouse in finding employment outside the company in 2004, compared with just 5 percent in 1997.)

Get any assistance that is offered in writing. A letter should suffice; outlining what assistance is being provided, at what financial level, and in what time frame.

Where are you going?
Researching your new location is a major part of the relocation process. Start by visiting PQNDT’s website and clicking on our “Relocation Resources” page for additional information on relocating.

Call the local Chamber of Commerce for information on the new area. Obtain a map and copies of the local newspapers while you’re in town for your job interview to use as reference information for house hunting. Contact the police department to find out about high crime areas to avoid. Get a copy of the local yellow pages for help in contacting real estate agents and utility companies. If you have children, research local schools and activities that will help them fit in, such as Little League, dance groups or YMCAs.

Salary considerations are also critical. Variations in the cost of living can have a significant effect on your “real” income. If you relocate from Arkansas to New York, your salary won’t have the same buying power. When negotiating a new salary, be sure to keep in mind the difference in buying power before settling on compensation. A helpful salary comparison calculator that can be found on PQNDT’s on website.

Family considerations are key
While the logistics for a single person to pick up and move can be complicated, it really gets tricky when you are moving a family.

Steve, a Level III Inspector recently relocated with his wife and two sons from Indianapolis, Indiana to Tallahassee, Florida to start a new job. When faced with the prospect of relocating in order to advance his career, Steve considered ending his job search and staying where he was. But the lure of a better salary and warmer weather helped push him to make the decision to move.

Steve’s new company was helpful, picking up the tab for his moving costs to the tune of $9,600. The company also provided rent-free housing for three months and time off to allow Steve to search for a new home. His advice for anybody considering relocation is to research local housing costs thoroughly.

The most difficult part of the move for Steve was leaving family and friends behind. But he says that his boys adjusted surprisingly well to their new home.

Experts say that it is important to involve the whole family in the relocation process as soon as possible. Children should be told about the move – and the reasons why – in a way they can understand. Describing the best features of a new city or town (parks, zoos, museums, etc.) will help get the children excited about the move, even as they anticipate leaving friends behind.

Remember that children pick up on the emotions of adults, so maintaining a positive attitude about the move will help ease their fears. On average, experts say it takes about six months for people to start feeling at home in a new environment. So be patient when the stress level builds and homesickness sets in.

Are you on your own?
Not all companies offer relocation assistance, and many offer different levels of assistance based on the positions they are filling. If your new employer is not one that offers a full range of relocation benefits, should you decline the new job? Not necessarily. Sometimes the opportunity is good enough to “bite the bullet” and shoulder the costs of moving yourself. It may be a much higher salary, more interesting position, or even a move to a more pleasant climate. All should be factored into your decision.

Don’t rule out a move
Where will your NDT career take you? If you have the desire and commitment, NDT can be a rewarding, lifelong career filled with opportunity and success. You do not have to give up a bright future just because an opportunity opens up for you in a different location. There are resources available to help you get from here to there, and to realize your dream.