Hydrostatic testing represents a non-destructive testing technique used in a wide variety of industries. During a hydrostatic test, inspectors fill pipes and other objects with water at a specific level of pressure to locate leaks or evaluate the integrity of the structure. Pipefitters and other professionals perform hydrostatic testing as part of their daily work activities, while others act as full-time testers or inspectors.
According to the California Education Roundtable, pipefitters nationwide earn an average salary of $41,140 annually as of 2011. These professionals routinely perform hydrostatic testing on their newly-installed work, or during inspections of existing piping systems. The Tennessee Career Information Delivery System estimates that pipefitters and steam fitters earn a median salary of $44,090 annually as of 2011. The lowest 10 percent of earners receive $26,550, while the highest 10 percent earn $75,075.
Plant Inspectors and Maintenance Personnel
Individuals responsible for plant maintenance and inspections also rely on hydrostatic testing to help ensure plumbing systems and other structures are functioning safely. In 2009, the Ft. Lupton, Colorado, Fire Department posted a job listing for a maintenance technician. This individual would be responsible for performing hydrostatic and other tests on sprinkler piping, and would receive an hourly wage ranging from $16.35 to $18.27, depending on skills and experience.
A similar plant inspector job posted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2006 advertised a wage of $16.59 to $19.35 for maintenance workers nationwide. This job also included hydrostatic testing under the posted list of job responsibilities.
Specialty Pipe Testing
A 2010 salary survey by the Personnel for Quality and Nondestructive Testing, or PQNDT, reveals that inspectors employed by the American Petroleum Institute earn the highest average salaries of all non-destructive testing professionals. These individuals inspect pipelines and tanks, using hydrostatic testing and other inspections techniques. The average API inspector earns a mean salary of $106,951 annually, or $51.62 per hour. These individuals earn a higher salary than many other hydrostatic testers due to the amount of travel required within the oil industry. This higher pays also reflects the specialized skills and experience required to safely work around pipelines, gaslines and drilling equipment.
Salaries for all NDT Professionals
Non-destructive testing, or NDT, consists of testing products and structures without causing permanent damage. This requires techniques like hydrostatic testing, X-rays and infrared scanning. According to a 2010 salary survey by the PQNDT, all NDT professionals earned an average salary of $90,341 per year. Those employed in the utility and power distribution industry, where hydrostatic techniques are frequently used, earned an average of $88,756 annually. NDT professionals in the construction industry, who use hydrostatic tests to examine plumbing systems and equipment, earned an average of $89,855 per year.
This salary survey reflects wages for professional inspectors, who often maintain certifications and credentials in a variety of NDT techniques.