What are the average salaries for a heat treater right now?

The Monty Heat Treat News has worked closely with International Search Partners (a US search firm known for being the only recruiting firm in the world working exclusively in heat treating), for over 20 years. That relationship has blossomed into a regularly featured article, “Ask the Heat Treat Recruiter,” where ISP’s seasoned team answers questions about salaries, interviewing, negotiations, and a host of other topics related to recruiting and job searching for companies and/or individual employees.

Kicking things off for 2024, Managing Recruiter, Josh Hale and Sr. Recruiter, Jessica Maier, address the most common question that comes up when talking to people in the industry:

What are the average salaries for a heat treater right now?

In the early post-pandemic days wages were rising incredibly fast and, while the upticks have slowed down a bit, salaries are continuing to go up to meet market demand for talent. It remains a “candidate’s market” and, whereas we previously saw “good” offers for new hires equate to roughly a 10-15% increase in salary, today’s workers are demanding (and getting) 20%+ to switch companies.

Recognizing these overall market conditions, here are some back-of-envelope numbers for the most common jobs within a commercial heat treat in 2024

Furnace OperatorsThe bottom line is that every commercial heat treat is hurting for production hourly workers right now and those laborers have seen their wages increase with demand. As recently as a few years ago, operators were earning in the low teens to the low twenties, but those averages have risen to $25+/hr plus the availability for OT.

Field Service EngineerFor the entirety of ISP’s existence (25+ years), FSEs have been one of the most in-demand and difficult to recruit for and hire positions. As such, they are well compensated with most good field techs taking home well over $100k when factoring OT and per diems. The most recent hires that we’ve made in this area have been starting in the $33-40/hr range.

Maintenance The demand for in-house maintenance has boomed over the past 2-3 years and wages for these professionals along with it… these days expect to pay $40 or more per hour for a seasoned maintenance mechanic and upwards of $125-150k+/yr for a strong manager with preventative maintenance and supervisory responsibilities.

Quality Engineers/Managers and Metallurgists – There can be a lot of variation for base salaries between plant metallurgists, lab metallurgists and those who specialize in quality, but as with all positions in heat treat, the supply-demand ratio has led to an increase in pay, with current salary ranges from $70-$125k and above depending on the level of experience and technical expertise required.

Design Engineers (mechanical and electrical)Engineering and design is another job function that has seen a large increase in need since the pandemic. OEMs can expect to pay degreed mechanical engineers with experience near or above $100k and experienced PLC programmers or EEs are earning $125-150k. Some companies have found success hiring recent grads and offering training programs, which can of course be more affordable with starting salaries for engineers closer to $60-70kish.

Sales Engineers Business development deserves special attention because of the variable nature of commission-based compensation; however, a good salesperson is worth their weight in gold and market rates for their talents reflect that fact with base salaries rising to the low $100ks for someone with experience in the industry, who can easily take home $150-175k+/yr with incentives. Typically, technical salespeople working for furnace manufacturers will earn more than commercial heat treat BDMs who are usually compensated at the lower end of that range.

Plant Managers/GMs It’s difficult to give a reasonable range for managers because many factors come into play, such as size of company, number of employees, location, etc., but also at the top of the pyramid titles can be somewhat nebulous and a “Plant Manager” at one company might be more akin to a “GM” at another. Trends for leadership roles have been to include more variable compensation in the form of bonuses, commissions, or even a path to equity. As with all roles within the heat treat industry, there is more need for companies to hire managers, supervisors, and executives, than there is qualified talent. As such, compensation and incentives have been instituted to lure more people to the industry.

If a position you work in or are thinking about hiring for wasn’t mentioned, or you would like to discuss specifics, please feel free to reach out to Josh or Jessica via LI or at the contact info below. Also, let us know your other questions for future editions of “Ask the Heat Treat Recruiter!

Josh Hale has collaborated with companies to identify, engage, and hire top performers as a professional “headhunter” where he’s focused exclusively on the heat treat industry as part of International Search Partners since acquiring the firm in 2015. He works closely with Jessica Maier to support the practice, and, together, they’ve helped dozens of companies and hundreds of candidates find the match within the industry, including roles for engineering, sales, quality, metallurgy, management, and more. For additional information email [email protected] or call 619-465-9621.