A boilermaker career attracts mechanically-inclined individuals comfortable working in a variety of settings and conditions. Boilers are made of steel, iron, copper, or stainless steel and generate electric power and heat through heating water. Boilermakers work on boilers, tanks, and vats used in a variety of buildings, ships and factories.
A boilermaker career includes installing new boilers and reading blueprints in order to locate already existing boilers to perform maintenance work on them. When building new boilers, boilermakers may use robotic or automatic welders. Boilermakers must also test and inspect their assembled boiler for existing or potential leaks or defects.
When cleaning vats, boilermakers use tools such as scrapers, wire brushes, and cleaning solvents. Typical boiler parts needing maintenance or repair include valves, pipes, or joints. When fixing these parts, boilermakers may use hand or power tools, gas torches, plumb bobs, levels, wedges, and turnbuckles and other welding equipment.
Boilermakers repair air pollution equipment and blasting furnaces and perform repair work at water treatment plants. They also work on storage and process tanks, repair smokestacks, install refractory brick and other heat-resistant materials in fireboxes or pressure vessels and install large pipes used in dams.
Some boilermakers enter apprenticeships after working as pipefitters, millwrights, sheet metal workers, or welders. The core training for these occupations is similar to the training for boilermakers.
Education and Certifications
Boilermakers generally begin their career with a high school diploma (or equivalent) and a formal four to five year apprenticeship program. Having previous welding experience and certifications helps to increase the chances of getting accepted into a boilermaker apprenticeship program.
Boilermakers are generally required to have a welder's certification.
Essential Career Information
- $62,260 - Median pay, 2017
- $38,700 - Wage of lowest 10 percent, 2017
- $87,160 - Wage of the highest 10 percent, 2017
- 269% - Employment growth forecast, 2016
- 17,200 - Number of jobs, 2016
- Entry-level education requirements - High school diploma or equivalent
- Mechanical skills. Boilermakers use and maintain a large variety of equipment, such as hoists and welding machines.
- Physical stamina. Boilermakers must have high endurance because they spend many hours on their feet while lifting heavy boiler components.
- Physical strength. Boilermakers need to be strong enough to move heavy vat components into place.
- Unafraid of confined spaces. Boilermakers often work inside boilers and vats.
- Unafraid of heights. Some boilermakers work at great heights. While installing water storage tanks, for example, workers may need to weld tanks several stories above the ground.