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Field Heat Treatment Technician


A primary role of the field heat treatment technician is to set up and perform controlled heat treating to offset the high-temperature effects of welding.

This process is frequently referred to as Post Weld Heat Treatment (PWHT) or Stress Relieving. The process is accomplished by heating work pieces (piping systems, vessels, etc.) to high temperatures in a very controlled manner, maintaining elevated temperatures for a prescribed period of time, and thereafter cooling the component at desired rates to achieve required properties within the work pieces. Electrical resistance heating, combustion fuel firing, electrical induction heating, and other methods, may be used to achieve this goal.

Field heat treatment technicians perform additional heating applications, including but are not limited to hydrogen bake outs, pre-heating, refractory curing, heat alignments, lower temperature line heating and similar thermal processes, as mandated by need and/or international code requirements.

Specific tasks encompassed in the field heat treatment technician occupation include the following:

  • safe work practices and training (Industrial First Aid, H2S, Confined Space, CSTS, WHIMIS, Working at Heights, Fall Protection, etc.),
  • the loading, assembly, disassembly, and maintenance of heat treating equipment,
  • fastening, securing or welding thermocouples (using capacitor discharge units) to work piece,
  • installing and removing thermal heating pads, electrical resistance heaters, induction coils, and insulation,
  • utilizing hand tools and some light power tools,
  • lifting up to 25 kg,
  • distributing and connecting secondary power cables to heating elements and thermocouples,
  • controlling and monitoring measurement equipment, instruments, digital process controllers and computer operating systems,
  • operating portable and/or mobile control systems, including generators, and
  • identifying, analyzing, and interpreting codes and quality control programs for heat treatment applications.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Occupation Regulation.


Working Conditions

Field heat treatment services are typically provided as “contract services” to a wide variety of clients, primarily engaged in construction, maintenance and/or operation of facilities where welded structures, piping and vessels are found (refineries, power plants, fabrication facilities, pipelines, mining & SAGD operations).

The nature of the field heat treatment work mandates that services be provided throughout the year, often in outdoor environments, and at times, in adverse weather conditions. The work environment may include high noise areas, working at heights, confined spaces, congested work sites, remote locations, shift work, duration rotations, shop setting, etc. and/or any combination of these conditions.

Hours of work vary from “long-term scheduled shifts” to short notice “call out projects” with overtime frequently required to meet production and start-up deadlines. Dependent upon the contractor’s workload, extensive travel may be necessary, as well as extended stays away from home base.

Safety is of the utmost importance, with most work sites and contractors requiring pre-employment, periodic and/or random drug and alcohol screening as a standard within the employment contract.


Skills and Abilities

The work is most rewarding to those seeking exposure to a variety of work sites and conditions, and can work well in a team environment. A technician should be able to perform assigned duties with limited supervision, and may have limited interaction with others.

Qualified field heat treatment technicians:

  • demonstrate they have the appropriate safety training required for: working on industrial sites, working at heights, material safety for hazardous materials and training specific to heat treatment and the effects on materials,
  • understand the principles of metallurgy, electricity, combustion and heat transfer methods,
  • interact and clearly communicate with employers, clients, and coworkers, and demonstrate a dedication to professional attitudes and trade practices,
  • analyze job requirements including technical documents, referencing heat treatment applications and specific requirements,
  • interpret isometric, schematics, technical drawings and other drawings related to piping systems, vessels, and applicable workpieces,
  • maintain job-related records for themselves and others, supervise crews and document procedures that are performed (able to identify/explain these records to auditable standards),
  • are well-versed with the technology used in the industry (digital control, measuring instruments, equipment software, etc.),
  • troubleshoot heat treatment equipment and installations, and
  • use “trade math” to convert measurements, calculate mass and volume, calculate electrical requirements, etc.


Employment and Advancement

Field heat treatment technicians work for companies specializing in providing contract heat treating services. Although the occupation is highly specialized and international in scope, comparatively small numbers of technicians are involved when compared to some of the other associated trades and occupations.

In Alberta, the majority of the work is on high pressure, welded piping systems and vessels used in refineries, chemical processing and/or power generation.

Well trained, certified field heat treatment technicians are in high demand within the industry.

Most of the industry is subject to wage and benefit agreements negotiated by the Quality Control Council (QCC). The negotiated hourly rate for an individual possessing an occupational certificate is $35 to $55 an hour plus benefits. Wages for heat treatment technicians outside the agreement with the QCC are comparable.


Working in Alberta

A certificate is not required to work as a field heat treatment technician in Alberta.  This is a designated occupation and participation is voluntary. 

Job skills and competencies, standards of performance and training programs for field heat treatment technicians have been defined and approved under the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act. 

Trainees who register with Apprenticeship and Industry Training to participate in occupational training and achieve the established standards of performance are awarded an Alberta Occupational Certificate.

A person who holds a certificate or document from another jurisdiction for a line of work that is much the same as Alberta’s field heat treatment technician occupation may apply for occupational certification.

Field heat treatment technicians who have no formal training but can prove that their skills and work experience meet the standards set for the occupation in Alberta may apply for occupational certification.

Individuals possessing a valid Alberta Journeyman Certificate, an Alberta Occupational Certificate or a document indicating that the individual holds a certificate that is recognized as equivalent to an Alberta trade or occupational certificate, are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential upon completing the necessary requirements.


Occupational Certification 

To become a field heat treatment technician it is recommended that candidates have a high school diploma with a strong background in science; the ability to do trade math; good English verbal and written communication skills; and the ability to read technical documents written at a grade 12 or higher reading level. A trade or technology certificate in one of the welding, machining, pipe or metalworking trades would also be valuable but is not required.

A field heat treatment technician is trained through a combination of on the job training, along with formal structured classroom instruction. All trainees must receive practical “level specific” field experience.

The term of occupational training for a field heat treatment technician is a minimum of 48 months and a minimum of 7,200 hours of work experience. Formal classroom training is available through the Quality Control Council of Canada (QCCC).

Occupational Certification Based on Recognized Credential

To qualify for an Alberta Occupational Certificate based on a certificate issued by another jurisdiction, a person must:

Occupational Certification Based on Work Experience

To qualify for an Alberta Occupational Certificate based on proof of skills and work experience that meet Alberta standards for the occupation, a person must:

have at least 10,800 hours and 72 months of ‘hands-on’ work experience in the Field Heat Treatment Technician occupation

Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.