Heat treatment operatives operate the equipment used to prepare materials such as metals and glass for use in products in the aircraft, car, defence, offshore and mining industries.
Heat treatment involves heating or chilling, normally to extreme temperatures, to achieve hardening or softening of the materials.
They are sometimes called furnace operators.
You could be:
- loading and unloading the untreated metals into the furnace to clean, toughen or harden them
- operating forges to bend materials
- using computer controlled equipment to operate a gas or vacuum furnace, setting times and temperatures
- making regular checks during the heat treatment
- unloading the furnace and dealing safely with any waste
- cleaning the products using steam sprays or washing them in chemicals
- air drying the products or cooling them in water or chemical baths
- testing samples for quality and recording the information, usually on computer
- making sure the furnace and other equipment are in good repair.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of the company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
Starting salary for a trainee heat treatment operative is around £18,000. With experience they can earn between £24,000 and £30,000 a year. Bonuses and extra pay for shift work are common.
- You could work in a factory or in the workshop of a specialist heat treatment company.
- Working conditions can be hot, noisy and dirty with fumes.
- You may have to work shifts at nights and weekends as some plants operate 24/7.
- The work includes some heavy lifting and carrying.
- You have to wear protective clothing because of the heat and chemicals.
- You must work to strict health and safety regulations.
Workforce Employment Status
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- Most employers will expect you to have subjects at National 5.
- You need good practical skills.
- You may have to sit an aptitude test.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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What Does it Take?
You need to be:
- able to work to high levels of precision and accuracy
- able to follow detailed instructions
- interested in working with machines
- very aware of health and safety issues.
You need to have:
- good concentration
- good practical skills
- good hand to eye co-ordination
- maths and IT skills
- excellent communication skills
- excellent attention to detail
- a reasonable level of fitness.
- Training is on the job working with experienced heat treatment operatives.
- You may be able to do short courses in industrial furnace technology.
- You may be able to take relevant SVQs such as Performing Manufacturing Operations (SCQF Level 5).
With experience, you might move on to be a supervisor.
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