- Practical work, preparing metals for the manufacturing of components
- You'll need to have good practical skills, along with a methodical approach and attention to detail
- Work can be physical, in a hot and noisy environment
Heat treatment operators are responsible for the machines and furnaces that apply heat treatments to clean, harden or temper metal and make it ready for use in products. 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.
- 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
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 and you'll need to wear protective clothing for most tasks.
This role would be ideal for someone with good practical skills, the ability to work methodically and efficiently, the ability to follow detailed instructions and use technical equipment, and good maths and IT skills.
There are no set entry requirements, although some employers may ask for GCSEs or equivalent qualifications in subjects like maths, English, technology or engineering.
Getting some 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 also get into this job through an apprenticeship.
With experience, you could progress to a supervisory or technician role.