Career outlook for heat treatment operator

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would use various methods to clean, strengthen or soften metals, so they can be used for components in manufacturing products like aircraft and cars.

You would work with a variety of metals including iron, steel and alloys. You’d apply treatments to clean, harden, temper (strengthen) and anneal (soften) them.

You would:

  • Load untreated products into a furnace or tank
  • Set the temperature controls for particular treatments
  • Monitor the treatment cycle in line with instructions
  • Cool products by air drying, or using water, oil or chemical baths (known as quenching)
  • Clean oxides and scale from products using steam sprays or with chemical cleaning solutions
  • Test samples for hardness and other properties to make sure they meet the manufacturer's specifications
  • Record test results on a computer system

You’d use a range of equipment including:

  • Gas and vacuum furnaces
  • Salt baths
  • Chemical solutions
  • Welding torches

Some jobs are done with computer-controlled equipment so you would also be responsible for programming instructions into the machines.

It is important to have a basic knowledge of metallurgy and how materials react. You’ll also need to be aware of safety and quality standards.

Working conditions


You would normally work 40 hours a week, often on a shift rota which may include evenings and weekends.


Most of your work would take place in factories and workshops, where conditions can get hot, dirty and noisy. The job also requires lots of standing and lifting. You would need to wear protective clothing for most tasks.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Taking responsibility
  • Time management
  • Taking initiative
  • Implementing ideas
  • Cooperating
  • Working with numbers

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Practical technologies such as practical metalwork 

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that demonstrate practical skills and an interest in working with machinery such as Skills for Work Engineering Skills (SCQF level 4).

It is helpful to have relevant work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Process Manufacturing (SVQ level 3) or be willing to work towards qualifications once in a job.