Boilermaker Job Description
Boilermakers repair, maintain and assemble vats, boilers, and other vessels. Boilers hold pressurized gases and liquids that produce the steam needed to provide heating and hot water in ships, buildings, and electric power plants. They also work with vats that may be used to process many different products.
Boilers are made from iron, copper, or steel, and boilermakers have to have an advanced knowledge of metalworking to properly assemble and maintain them. Flame cutting torches, wedges, plumb bobs, and turnbuckles are examples of tools that boilermakers use on a regular basis.
The work that boilermakers do is physically demanding and sometimes dangerous. In some cases, boilers and vats can be very large, and boilermakers have to work at great heights in order to repair or install them. When working inside vats or boilers, the conditions can be cramped, hot, dark, and damp. In these cases, wearing a respirator is sometimes necessary.
Because they work with tools designed to cut and melt metal, injuries can happen very easily if safety precautions aren’t taken. To be safe, boilermakers wear a lot of protective equipment including safety glasses, earplugs, hardhats, and other equipment.
Most boilermakers work full time, and overtime is often required when boilers are shut down for maintenance, or when a deadline is approaching.
How to Become a Boilermaker
Most boilermakers learn their trade through apprenticeships. To get an apprenticeship, you will need to have a high school diploma or GED. Those with welding experience will have an easier time finding an apprenticeship as a boilermaker, because it cuts down on the amount of training required.
If you want to increase your chances of getting an apprenticeship, you should consider attending a technical school after you complete high school. Courses in welding, blueprint reading, and metalworking are especially helpful.
Apprenticeships normally last between 4-5 years. As an apprentice, boilermakers have to complete 2,000 hours of on the job training as well as 144 hours of technical training each year.
Apprentices are paid for their time, but at a discounted rate. Essentially, they take a pay cut in exchange for the training that they will use for the rest of their careers.
There are currently 20,180 boilermakers in the United States, with 810 new boilermaker job openings created each year.
Boilermaker jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Boilermaker salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most boilermakers make between $41,000 – $68,600 per year, or $19.70 – $33.01 per hour.