Prepare for Takeoff

The ice is finally melting after a long, cold winter. I’m not talking about the weather, but about the nation’s business climate. The economy has begun to stir from top to bottom, which is good news for those of us in the nondestructive testing (NDT) industry.

Long delayed projects are being dusted off and ramped up. The pace of production in factories is picking up. Payrolls that were frozen are now being expanded. All this activity means that inspection and testing services that slumped along with the economy will soon be required again.

Are you prepared? Will you be ready to ride the leading edge of the surging economy? Or will you simply tread water and hope the rising tide drags you along? Whether you’ve been working steadily or hope to get “back in the saddle,” now is the time for a serious evaluation of your skills, your experience, and your prospects for the future.

The good news is that companies are once again hiring for the long haul, offering plenty of opportunities for a skilled, experienced NDT professional to find full-time employment. However, because hiring managers have more candidates from which to choose, they are more cautious and picky about their hires. Up-to-date certifications and recent training are critical for success, along with flexibility in how and where you will work.

This advice is not just aimed at NDT professionals who are out of work or struggling along from contract to contract. The resurgence in work also represents an opportunity for those who are looking to improve or change their current situation. Although you may have been reluctant to give up a “sure thing” while the economy was slow, now may be the right time to satisfy your curiosity about working for a better company, at better wages, in a better part of the country.

Pre-Flight Check
Are you ready to make the best of the economic recovery? Here are five questions to ask yourself:

1. Are my certifications up to date? Make sure you have documentation for your certifications and any recent training you’ve completed. If you’re not “up to speed,” get into a training program right away to close the gap.

2. Does my present position have a bright future? If you’re working in the NDT field now, is your company in an industry that is likely to profit from a stronger economy? If you’re in a mature industry that is not likely to make the cut, don’t wait. Start looking now to make a jump to a more forward-looking industry.

3. Is my resume ready for inspection? Whether you’re in the job market now, or it’s been a long time since you searched for a new position, your resume could probably use some work. This important document is your first introduction to a hiring manager. Get some help to make sure it’s well organized and complete.

4. Am I willing (or eager) to relocate? Not all the new jobs will be in the same place as the old jobs. Manufacturers have moved factories. Construction projects pop up in different locations. You may need to be flexible in order to land the kind of job you want.

5. Where do I want to be in ten years? Twenty? Thirty? Kind of philosophical, I know. But the reality is the steps you take this year will have a long-term effect on your career. If you dream about a comfortable retirement, pick a date! Then work backward to see what path you’ll need to follow to get there. Taking control of your own future is a nice feeling.

Wheels Up
All indications are that the economic recovery will be a gradual one. But that does not mean you have all the time in the world to contemplate your situation. The NDT professionals who put themselves “in play” early are the ones who will have their pick of the best jobs and the most lucrative contracts. Now is the time to make the decision to remain a passenger, or to pilot your career to new heights.