Are Salaries in the HT Industry Increasing-Ask the Heat Treat Recruiter

Are salaries in the heat treatment industry in North America increasing? Common perception (or misconception) says that the answer to this question is a resounding yes! However we posed the question to our resident expert and regular contributor Mr. Josh Hale of heat treatment recruiting firm International Search partners and he provided us with this very detailed answer covering both salaries and benefits.

Josh what are the current trends and forecasts for compensation in the new year?  

Josh: Despite any talk about a supposed pending recession, unemployment remains EXTREMELY low across the board and will likely stay at historical lows for the foreseeable future. This is especially pronounced in the heat treat industry where older workers aren’t being replaced by a younger generation entering the industry at a fast enough clip to cover demand. Overall, it seems highly unlikely that that there will be a wane in the need for talent this year (or 2024 and beyond for the matter…), and the bottom-line is that specialized heat treat skills continue to be in high demand. 

In the recruitment business, we sometimes use the term “a candidate’s market” to describe times where unemployment is low and there are more available jobs than there are potential employees. In a “candidate’s market” like we’re in now, it is typical to see wages in increase as companies start making stronger offers to entice new employees to come on board while at the same time giving raises to their current workforce with the hope that they’ll be able to retain the employees they have.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen upticks in salaries for all positions and it seems to be moving quickly with base compensation trending upwards consistently month-over-month. Prior to the pandemic a typical “good” offer was 10-15% above a candidate’s most recent salary, but now we’re seeing 20-25%+ being a baseline for many candidates to even consider making a move.

All of this might sound scary to managers out there with hiring objectives to meet on the year but remember that while salary is a huge motivator for employees, it is not the ONLY factor that workers look at when making a career move. Most candidates will consider any prospective offer wholistically and factor in benefits, bonus potential, growth opportunities, etc. Extra PTO and schedule flexibility are two things that many employers use to tip the scales in their favor when there isn’t anything left in the salary bucket to give. Of course, money still talks though, so it is also important for companies to remember that they need to pay market rates. All this is to say that a good benefits package can tip the scales in favor of one employer over another, but only when the base comp is competitive.

Companies should be cautious, however, about using “great team” or “good work environment” as a lure because it’s hard to quantify and it won’t be the needle-mover to get a candidate to jump from one company to another. Instead, fostering a synergetic work culture should be seen as part of a retention (not recruitment) strategy – not to mention just generally a good idea for all.

 For employees who are seeing dollar signs right now, it is good time to consider making a career change as there are a lot of options available – especially for those willing to relocate, which obviously casts a wider net. We work with a lot of people who are working currently and generally content in their roles but can help them “put feelers out” confidentially by having us keep them in mind for certain opportunities. This works best when the employee has a good idea of what he or she wants, so another piece of advice would be to think about career goals, company preferences, personal strengths/weaknesses, desired locations, tradeoffs, etc. so that when that “dream job” is presented, there’s no delay.

While a market like this poses some challenges and can feel stressful due to the fast-moving nature, there are also many opportunities and, in the end, rising wages and a mobile workforce bodes well for the overall health and growth of the industry.

Josh Hale has been collaborating with companies to identify, engage, and hire top performers as a professional “headhunter” since the early 2000’s. He’s focused exclusively on the thermal processing industry since acquiring the only search and placement firm to specialize exclusively in heat teat, International Search Partners, in 2015. Soon after, he hired Jessica Maier to support the practice, and, together, they’ve helped dozens of companies make hundreds of hires in a variety of roles within the industry, including engineering, sales, quality, metallurgy, and management.

The Monty Heat Treat News has worked closely with International Search Partners, a US search firm which is known for being the only recruiting agency in the world working exclusively in the heat treatment industry, for many years now. In 2023, The Monty is pleased to announce that this relationship will continue with ISP offering a regular exclusive feature where they will answer questions about salaries, interviewing, negotiations, and a host of other topics related to recruiting and job searching for companies and/or individual professionals in the heat treat industry.

Did you like this article? Click here to subscribe to The Monty.

View our recent magazines and podcasts by clicking the following link.