According to the Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program, an apprentice must go through approximately four years -- 6,000 hours -- of on-the-job training, along with another 144 hours of year of classroom education, to become a journey-level boilermaker. During that time apprentices learn how to read blueprints so they can build pressure vessels and water treatment plants and help build water storage tanks, among other tasks. Compensation for these tasks is dependent upon the amount of money a journey-level boilermaker earns, since apprentices earn a percentage of what licensed boilermakers make.
According to the “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition,” boilermakers earn a median salary of $52,260 a year, with the lowest 10 percent bringing in $32,480 and the highest 10 percent making $76,160. The salary of a boilermaker apprentice starts at approximately half of a journeyman boilermaker's. An apprentice will earn a median salary of $26,130. The lowest 10 percent of apprentices earn $16,240 and the upper 10 percent bring in $38,080.
Apprentice boilermakers are trained through educational centers sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, which means trainees also become unionized. Salaries of union-affiliated boilermakers are negotiated by the union through collective bargaining, so compensation may differ depending on the locale. For example, unionized apprentice boilermakers working for BNSF Railway earn $21.08 an hour, whereas journeymen make $25.10. First-year apprentice boilermakers at the Boilermakers Training Center in Bayonne, New Jersey, earn 65 percent of a licensed boilermaker's rate, as set forth by the Boilermakers Local Lodge #28.
Salary by Experience
Apprentice boilermakers working under the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council are paid a percentage of a journeyman’s salary, depending on the amount of time they’ve been apprenticing. Those with up to 1,000 hours earn 70 percent of a licensed boilermaker's pay; between 1,001 and 2,000 hours make 75 percent; with 2,001 to 3,000 hours, it goes up to 80 percent; with 3,001 to 4,000 hours it’s 85 percent; 4,001 to 5,000 is worth 90 percent and 5,001 to 6,000 hours maxes out at 95 percent of boilermakers salary.
The “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition,” says employment for boilermakers will grow faster than average, at a rate of 19 percent, between 2008 and 2018. Growth will be driven by the need to repair and upgrade parts rather than replacing an existing boiler. Also, because federal policies are encouraging the construction of environmentally friendly plants, boilermakers will be needed to fill this demand.