A boiler is a vessel operated under pressure or vacuum to vaporize water or other liquids for power or heat generation. Certain skills are required to safely operate and maintain a boiler, so operators must meet state licensing requirements. But don’t expect the process to be a cake walk. You need experience, skills and the proper education to pass an exam. The process starts with applying for the right license.
Licenses are issued according to the type of boiler and operator skill level. There is a license for a low pressure boiler operator, a high pressure boiler operator and a stationary steam engineer. Within each boiler type are different license class levels that correlate to the years of experience. The requirements for training and experience differ with each license, so it is important to select the appropriate license class for which you qualify.
Education and Skills
You will need a minimum level of boiler operating skills and knowledge before you sit for the licensing exam. You must understand general boiler operations, including the fundamentals of steam, hot water and combustion systems. You must also understand boiler control systems, instrumentation, boiler efficiency, and procedures for starting up and shutting down a boiler. Specific knowledge is also required for each license level, including understanding the boiler and burner design. Enter a formal boiler training program from a trade school or community college and participate in a work-study program to help you get up to speed.
Submit the Application
Your state Department of Labor is a good starting place to get specific details on licensing requirements and applications. Each state has different application procedures. For example, some states charge an application fee or require a notarized application and verification of work experience. Complete the application and select an examination time that you can meet, because application fees are usually non-refundable.
Take the Exam
Take a practice boiler operator licensing exam and learn the practical aspects of test-taking. When test time arrives, be sure to read the instructions. If there is a penalty for incorrect answers, do not guess. However, if the scoring is based on the percentage of correct answers, answer all questions even if you have to guess. You can reapply to take a licensing exam within the time frame allowed by state law.
- North Carolina Department of Labor: Frequently Asked Questions
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Stationary Engineers and Boiler Operators
- The City of Houston: A Guide to Houston's General Boiler Regulations
- Dakota County Technical College: Boiler Operation
- Career One Stop: Licensed Occupations
- Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry: Individual Boiler Engineer License Examination Application
- Bates Technical College: Sample Test Questions for Written Steam Boiler Operator Examinations
- Photo Credit gjp311/iStock/Getty Images
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