The best way to get answers is to ask questions, right?  So, to find out more about those working in the thermal-processing industry, that’s exactly what Industrial Heating did. With the help of BNP Media Market Research, we surveyed employees working at a variety of businesses (heat treaters, equipment manufacturers, engineering firms) on a range of topics.

Most of the results are summarized in my article “State of the Thermal-Processing Industry” on page 38and cover the gamut from hours worked to salary. Some other findings, however, were excluded. I thought we could use this space to review some of the individual specifics of those who took the time to complete the survey.

It’s no secret that the age demographic of the industry is trending older. As evidence, 68% of survey respondents were at least 50 years old, with an average age of 53. Nearly 30% were over 60. Perhaps unsurprisingly, respondents were also predominantly male (89%).  As for education, 32% of respondents have a master’s degree. Exactly half – 50% – have a bachelor’s.

But what, perhaps, trumps education and is always considered an important factor in a company’s success? The practical experience of its employees. And this is where things get interesting.

Over half of respondents have more than 20 years of experience in the industry, but 41% did not. In fact, 22% of those surveyed had 10 years or under of industry know-how under their belts. Taking things a step further, there was an exact 50-50 split amongst employees who have been with their current company more than 10 years and those with their current company 10 years or fewer. On average, respondents had been with their company for 15 years.

Now, what about the companies the respondents work for? While over a quarter of those surveyed worked for captive in-house heat treaters, nearly 20% worked for equipment manufacturers. Just over 10% were employed by engineering or consulting firms.

We wanted to learn a little more about the workers’ employers, so we asked what best described the company’s approach to embracing new technology. The results can be seen in the table. Almost half of respondents indicated that their employer is willing to be an early leader when it comes to embracing new technologies. More importantly, 26% of those surveyed said their company wanted to be on the leading edge. So, 69% of the involved businesses are not interested in waiting when it comes to adopting new ideas.

Back to the employees themselves, we asked what they felt were the most important job attribute as well as what their most important job concerns were. It’s interesting that  “salary” came in third place behind “feeling of accomplishment” and “technical challenge” when listing top attributes. And it wasn’t shocking that “economic conditions” was the top concern amongst respondents, even though “management support” and “improving the skills of workforce” weren’t too far behind.

With an eye toward the future, we asked about specific employee development. Respondents had a wide range of answers, but time management and problem-solving were at the top of the list when it came to skills they would like to develop over the course of the next year. Other answers that garnered around 20% response rate were employee supervision, accounting and public speaking.

Industrial Heating asked the questions, and we got some answers. As a result, we were able to find out a little bit more about the state of the thermal-processing industry and those that work the many jobs within it. It was a “challenge,” but now we have a “feeling of accomplishment.”