If we are practicing a science (and I think that most of us believe that we are), we need to educate ourselves in the world of metallurgy. Does one require a degree to be a heat treater?

A degree is “nice to have,” but the opportunity to obtain a degree is not always available to each of us (for a variety of reasons). However, we do need to educate ourselves into at least the basic science of heat treatment. It need not be a complex program to understand the process metallurgy. There are some very easily understood classroom courses available to us through ASM International and the Metal Treating Institute (for which I wrote and presented numerous training videos, PowerPoint notes and a test).

Educational knowledge of our craft/science is (I believe) a must to each and every one of us, from the CEO/owner to the furnace associate who can literally make or break the component being treated in very short order. Both owners of heat-treatment companies and associates need to seriously consider the heat-treat educational opportunities available to them.

During the early stage of my consulting/education company, I recall teaching a class at a commercial heat-treat facility. Two of the operators, who had not graduated from high school (for whatever reason), asked me what happens in the laboratory. So I took them on a walk around the laboratory and explained what does what and how we prepare the sample for metallurgical examination.

They then asked me if I could teach them the laboratory practice. I thought that was a very tall-order request. After discussion with the CEO, we decided to try it. I taught them for six months or so by visiting, correspondence and practical exams as well as intermediate testing. I was privileged to meet with those two gentlemen about one year ago, and they are now running and managing the metallurgical laboratory of a commercial heat-treatment company.