Job Description of a Boilermaker

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Boilermakers are highly skilled construction workers who specialize in the making, installation and repair of boilers, high pressure vats, tanks and other large vessels that contain chemicals, gases, water or other fluids. The work is physically demanding and requires the use of dangerous equipment. Work is done in extreme conditions and often requires travel. Job opportunities for boilermakers should be good; however this work is usually done by contract, so there may be periods of unemployment.

Educational Requirements

  • Boiler makers train through an apprenticeship program that usually lasts four years and includes 6,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 144 classroom hours. Apprentices must be 18 years old, legally authorized to work in the United States and be a high school graduate or equivalent. Applicants with a welding certificate or previous experience will have an advantage when applying for an apprenticeship. After finishing this apprenticeship, they are certified as journey-level workers. This trade may be learned through employer-provided training and trade or technical schools.

Job Duties

  • Boiler makers weld sections of iron, steel copper or other metals together to form them into large tanks or boilers. They follow blueprints to locate and mark reference points on boiler foundations, and then, using plumb bobs, straightedges and levels, they align the sections to fit properly together. They use cutting torches, hammers, files, and power grinders to smooth edges and weld pieces into place. They repair, maintain and update older vessels and often replace components in boilers. They insert refractory brick and other heat-resistant materials. They inspect tubes, valves and other fittings for wear and test them for leaks. They supervise the cleaning of vats and repair or replace damaged sections, often using metal working machinery to fabricate parts. When fabricating parts, they will study the design drawings create patterns using straightedges, level, squares and transits.

Advancement

  • Boiler makers may advance by starting their own businesses or becoming supervisors. They can also become apprenticeship teachers. Completion of the apprenticeship course will be an advantage when seeking promotions.

Employment Outlook

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for boilermakers should increase by approximately 19 percent during the decade of 2008 to 2018. Many boiler makers will be needed to repair and update existing boilers, especially in hydro-electrical facilities. There will be some demand for new boilers to be manufactured that will meet or exceed new environmental concerns.

Earnings

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage and salary of boiler makers at the journey-level was $52,260 in May 2008. Apprentices make about half as much as journey-level wages, but receive salary increases as progress is made in their apprenticeship. The agency also reports that many boilermakers are members of unions and the salary is dependent on labor contracts.

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References

  • Photo Credit boilers image by JCVStock from Fotolia.com
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