Who Are The Highest Paid Individuals in the Heat Treat Industry?

Compensation Analysis for the Heat Treat Industry

From Mr. Josh Hale of International Search Partners, the larges recruiting firm in the North American heat treating industry we have this very interesting article about compensation within the industry.

“This is the third of a three-part series addressing salary and compensation trends for the heat treat industry. The previous two articles act as salary guides for commercial heat treaters and furnace/oven OEMs. The objective here is to take a closer look at overall compensation beyond base salary and answer some common reader questions.

The most common question is who are the highest earners within the heat treating industry?  

With rising costs of doing business (materials, taxes, marketing, etc.), one can correctly assume that it’s not always owners who are taking home the most money. In many instances, it’s also not senior level management. For a commercial heat treat, the highest grossing W-2 often belongs to someone working in the maintenance department. The two key reasons for this are overtime and supply and demand.  

Overtime makes up a large percentage of overall income for a lot of industrial hourly workers, but this is especially true maintenance professionals who are often on-call and might work 7 days a week. A typical maintenance worker earning $30/hr would have an equivalent annual salary of $62k/yr. However, if he averaged just 65 hrs per week, he would nearly double his base salary with overtime pay, and it would not be unheard of for someone working closer to 80 hrs per week easily eclipsing the total annual income of an experienced plant manager or GM.”

Another reason for high earnings potential in the field of maintenance is simple supply and demand. Hands-on maintenance skills are rare, and companies will do whatever they can to attract and retain top talent in the field. The same holds true for field service engineers, who are often the highest earners for a heat treat equipment manufacturer, and who have seen a significant uptick in base hourly wages and per diems over the past few years.

A shortage of quality candidates for hire is now starting to affect other facets of an organization as well and many companies are struggling to hire and retain experienced heat treat professionals at all levels. Some companies have begun to offer retention bonuses to those who stay employed and in good standing for 6 months or 1 year and others offer referral bonuses of anywhere from $250-1k+ for successful hires that may come from an existing employee’s introduction.

Another recent trend is for employers to offer more flexible schedules and/or work-from-home options where appropriate. While this has been expedited by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a shift that has been coming on gradually for several years and is a proven and effective tool for enticing new recruits. Of course, not every role can be based remote, but OEMs are finding that designers and drafters can be just as effective from a home computer as from the office, and for many high-travel positions such as sales and field service, being based elsewhere from company HQ doesn’t pose an issue.

Most companies also offer additional benefits to their employees outside of monetary compensation. Health insurance and 401K retirement plans with matching are common but haven’t changed much over the past few years and tend to be similar from company to company. However, there has been an increase in paid time off offered. It used to be that an employee might have to wait for his 3rd or 5th year anniversary to be eligible for more than 2 weeks of vacation, but now it is commonplace to start a new hire at 2-3 weeks or more. Another benefit that has become more widely used is to offer some sort of profit sharing as a tool for engaging workers and aligning their incentives with that of the company.

There is a lot more to compensation than just salary and while this article peels back the layers on some common practices and trends, there are many variables to consider in this ever-changing space. For any specific questions, please feel free to reach out to Josh Hale at joshh@internationalsearchpartners.net or call 619-828-1040. Josh has been in the recruiting field since the early 2000’s and has specialized in the heat treat niche since joining International Search Partners in 2015 where he has made over 100 placements across all functions within the industry.

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