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Heat treatment operator

Heat treatment operators clean, strengthen and soften metals, for use in component manufacturing.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £17,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements, although some employers may ask for GCSEs (A* to C) or equivalent qualifications in subjects like maths, English, technology or engineering.

Previous engineering experience would give you an advantage.You could also take a Level 2 or Level 3 course in engineering, or a foundation degree in materials science.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

SEMTA and Tomorrow's Engineers have more information about becoming a heat treatment operator.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • good practical skills
  • the ability to work methodically and efficiently
  • the ability to follow detailed instructions and use technical equipment
  • good maths and IT skills

3. What you'll do

You’ll work with metals like iron, steel and alloys. You’ll use equipment like gas and vacuum furnaces, salt baths, chemical solutions and welding torches.

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • loading untreated products into a furnace or tank
  • setting the temperature for particular treatments
  • monitoring the treatment cycle
  • cooling products by air drying, or using water, oil or chemical baths (known as quenching)
  • cleaning oxides and scale from products using steam sprays, or with chemical cleaning solutions
  • testing samples for hardness and other properties to make sure they meet the manufacturer's specifications
  • recording test results on a computer system

4. Salary

Starter: £17,000 to £21,000

Experienced: £25,000

Highly Experienced: £30,000 to £40,000 (supervisor or manager)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 40 hours a week, often on a shift rota which may include evenings and weekends.

Most of the work is in factories and workshops, which can get hot, dirty and noisy.

The job is physically demanding.

You’ll need to wear protective clothing for most tasks.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to a supervisory or technician role.

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Last updated: 08 December 2016