Approximately 20,000 heat treating equipment setters, operators, and tenders are employed in the metal and plastics industries. Some heat treaters work in commercial heat-treating plants, where objects are heat-treated on contract for other firms. Others work in the heat-treating department of a company that manufactures metal objects, such as engines or machinery. Metal manufacturing is concentrated in the Great Lakes states, and in Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and New York.
If you are interested in becoming a heat treater, you can learn about openings by contacting local commercial heat treaters and manufacturers of metal objects, such as engines, automobiles, and farm machinery. These manufacturers often have their own heat-treating plants that operate as part of their factory. Newspaper ads may also announce openings, and state employment agencies should have information about apprenticeships and how to apply for them.
Skilled heat treaters have many opportunities for advancement. As they become more experienced, they may move into supervisory positions such as foreman or plant manager. In addition to technical expertise, workers who want to advance need to have good communications skills, leadership ability, and the ability to work as part of a team. Most heat treaters who move into higher positions take classes beyond the high school level. Technical classes in metallurgy are required for positions involved in metallurgy and operations management. Many heat treaters also advance into inspector positions.
Tips for Entry
Find a commercial heat-treating company near you and set up an information interview with a heat treater to learn more about the job.
Spend time on the Web sites of industry associations, such as ASM International and the Metal Treating Institute, to access industry news and information about upcoming workshops and events.
Take as many classes as possible in math, computers, and shop. They will provide a solid background for work in the heat treating field.