Boilermakers are professionals who fabricate, install and repair boilers and other vessels that hold gases and liquids. Employment of these individuals is projected to climb by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, and their median annual wages as of 2009 were $52,260, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gaining formal boiler training and certification can open up many employment doors in this industry but requires strong attention to detail and physical strength and stamina.
Individuals who are interested in entering the boiler industry should complete an apprenticeship in this field. Apprenticeships typically feature four years of paid, on-the-job training along with 144 hours of classroom instruction each year. Beginning students usually receive about half of what experienced journeymen are paid, but their wage increases as their experience increases. Apprenticeships are available through employers or unions, which usually notify vocational schools and high school vocational programs when training programs become available. In particular, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and the Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program offer training opportunities.
To get into a boiler training program, aspiring apprentices typically must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Individuals who have completed welding training or have welding certification have a greater opportunity of being admitted into an apprenticeship program in the boiler industry. In addition, aspiring boilermakers also can consider completing a preparatory two-year associate degree program in heating, ventilating and air-conditioning technology, or HVAC, before applying to a boilermaker apprenticeship program.
Classes in boiler training programs cover subjects such as plate and pressure welding, layout, blueprint reading and set-up/assembly rigging. Other courses include metallurgy, computer-aided design, shielded metal arc welding, tungsten inert gas welding and metal active gas welding. An HVAC training program that prepares students to become boilermakers also covers boilers in HVAC systems, air/water distribution systems, and electrical circuits and controls.
Trade certification is not mandatory in all states to become a boilermaker, but it does make an individual more marketable to employers in this industry because some employers require this. Boiler repair is governed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. ASME offers a Qualifications of High Capacity Fossil Fuel Fired Operator, or QFO, boiler operator certification program, which involves passing a computer-based examination on one or more industry combustion areas such as pulverized fuel or oil/gas multiple burners.
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