Need a Job? Become a Natural Gas Pipeline Inspector! No Experience Necessary!

Dec 11th, 2012 | By Mark | Category: Lead Articles, Natural Gas Leaks

NatGas Consulting

Here’s something that might scare the bejesus out of everyone who is concerned about the integrity of our nation’s natural gas infrastructure.

Why?

Because federal pipeline safety regulations leave natural gas pipeline inspections in large part to the natural gas industry; when it comes to inspecting pipelines for leaks, they are pretty much on their own. They self-police and we, in turn, trust their data.

Natural gas pipeline operators are seeking people to inspect natural gas lines for leaks, offering wages only a little higher than the average fast-food worker makes.

Federal regulators, in the form of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, step in, for the most part, only when there’s an indication of a violation.

For example, PHMSA’s description of its role in keeping pipelines safe doesn’t specifically include inspecting pipelines for leaks; instead, PHMSA inspectors — and there are only 90 to cover the entire country — inspect pipeline operators’ records for compliance with existing regulations.

One has to imagine that leak surveying is critical to ensuring that a natural gas pipeline is operating without endangering the public safety, yet according to this listing, the people doing this work — the ones who are on the front line when it comes to pipeline safety — are paid only a fraction more than the guy who flips your burger at McWendyKing’s or the woman who says hello when you walk into a WalMart.

These must be the quality jobs the natural gas industry keeps talking about.

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6 Comments to “Need a Job? Become a Natural Gas Pipeline Inspector! No Experience Necessary!”

  1. Hugh Kimball says:

    Sounds like a great job for someone who constantly smokes cigarettes.

  2. nathan says:

    I work as a X-ray Technician Helper for an arkansas based Non Destructive Testing company. I have done xray for about 4 months now and am still considered (uncertified) if you will. I have done a pipeline in pennsylvania and some local in arkansas.
    all pipe that gas runs through. is thick steel pipe. depending on volume/pressure/size of pipe the thickness may increase. Every single weld on a gas pipeline is xrayed. much like you have an xray of your bones. different type of radiographic source but the xrays loook the same. we can see pinhole leaks in welds cracks etc. if there is ANY problem with the weld we must call a repair. and trust me it is a big deal if you DONT, jail/job/fines. BIG deal. and its not a big deal. if theres a problem. you call the repair. boom they grind it out and reweld and we re x ray it. its very simple. we keep all the film on file and only once WE have okayed all the pipe. then they pressure test it to pressure test the actual pipe. they pressurize it with more pressure than will run through it. usually with nitrogen or water i believe. the people who are reading the xray film are NOT entry level guys. you have to have roughly 800+ hours of xraying before you can even take the test to become a certified Level 2 xray technician. the entry level people. carry the x ray source and take the pictures basically. physical labor. thats what i do. we dont get paid alot in the terms of hourly. but we get alot of overtime. and per diem. which makes me make a lot more than i did as a full time mechanic at a dealership. and ive been doing this for 4 months.
    all welds are inspected by a 2 man team. a lvl 2 and a helper. each weld is labelled and looked at on the pipe and on the film. then the inspector comes by and periodically checks to make sure we are on the right number/doing things the right way/keeping everything in code. Then a surveyor comes out and checks all the weld numbers and gps logs them. so every weld has a gps coordinate as to where it is. Its not a joe blow job. its hard work and its long hours and being a lvl 2 comes down to reading film correctly knowing all safety/transportation procedures with radiographic equipment. Its not something ANYone can do. but it is easy to learn. background checks are also done on all workers before you can go on your first x ray.. on top of allll that. you have the state transportation/health department. who will come out. and make sure everything is being done TO THE T or the companies get fined. it is a VERY monitored practice. and the pipe is more than checked to verify it will be safe once buried.

  3. Robin says:

    I don’t think you have this correct. I know inspectors who make over $650 per day for natural gas pipeline inspection – during the fusing and laying of the pipeline. I looked at the Heathus.com website and these inspectors are not inspecting new pipelines, they are inspecting old pipelines underground. Here is their employment info –

    “Heath Consultants Incorporated has been in business for over 75 years serving the utility industry nationwide. In some parts of the country we perform Line Locating. Any time someone has a need to break ground, the underground utility lines must first be located. Our technicians are trained to locate these underground utilities, (such as telephone lines, cable T.V. lines, electric lines, natural gas lines, etc.) The lines are then marked with small flags, spray painted lines. or both. This ensures that everyone knows exactly what utility is underground and where it is located.

    In other parts of the country we perform Natural Gas Leak Detection. Working in conjunction with local gas companies, our technicians are trained to detect natural gas leaks in the underground pipes. The technician walks above the gas lines; if there is a leak, our equipment will detect it. The location of the leak is documented and the gas company is notified. The gas company will then send someone out to repair the leak. In both Line Locating and Natural Gas Leak Detection, our technicians use equipment manufactured by Heath Consultants.

    Our technician positions require continuous walking and working outdoors. The equipment used can weigh up to fifteen pounds. For Natural Gas Leak Detection, the technician may be required to use a plunger bar. This is a device weighing approximately twenty pounds, used to drive a small hole into the ground approximately two to three feet deep. The hole is created so a probe may be inserted into it to get a more accurate reading and confirm the leak.”

    • Tom Lyons says:

      I am a former medical X-ray tech looking to get into pipe line X-ray, I’ve been in the oil field for almost 2 years doing wireline. Does anyone know of companies that will train or send to get paid training? I’ve been trying to get into this field so far with no success. 724-216-3965 if anyone can/ is willing to help me gain entrance.

      • TylerDurden says:

        @Tom Lyons: Companies prefer to hire personnel, who are already qualified rather than invest in them from the day they start. Its all about what you earn for the company!

        With you background (X-ray and industry knowledge) it shouldn’t be hard to join one of the NDT courses for welding inspection and succesfully pass. There are several really good institutes in the world. I can highly recommend TWI in Middlesborough in the UK. They offer a broad range of NDT courses that will get you on your way.

        I have attended several of their courses and did many of them in their Thailand training center (because I don’t like cold weather). The way I did it was as follows:
        1. gained experience in a company – 2 years. During this time I obtained additional certifications. Some were paid for other I paid privately,
        2. started to freelance – up till today,
        3. obtained more certifications in all kinds of inspection techniques,
        4. obtained API and NACE certificates,
        5. Earn an easy $1000 – $1500,- per day.

        You have to become an expat and leave home and country. I use the world as my playground. If you are a family-man, you have to think twice, because it is tough on the people you leave behind.

        @James Vaughn: Nobody is going to call you just like that. Plenty coating inspectors needed around the planet. Also for you: leave home. Try websites as oilcareers, rigzone, linkedin, etc to land a job.

        Good luck!

  4. James Vaughn says:

    I have worked as a pipeline inspector,now I have my nace coating certification and can’t find a job to save my life so if their is anyone out there looking for an inspector please call me at 573-625-9616 name is James

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