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Become A Boiler Maker

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Working As A Boiler Maker

  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • $77,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Boiler Maker Do

Boilermakers assemble, install, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases.

Duties

Boilermakers typically do the following:

  • Use blueprints to determine locations, positions, or dimensions of parts
  • Install small premade boilers into buildings and manufacturing facilities
  • Lay out prefabricated parts of larger boilers before assembling them
  • Assemble boiler tanks, often using robotic or automatic welders
  • Test and inspect boiler systems for leaks or defects
  • Clean vats, using scrapers, wire brushes, and cleaning solvents
  • Replace or repair broken valves, pipes, or joints, using hand and power tools, gas torches, and welding equipment

Boilers, tanks, and vats are used in many buildings, factories, and ships. Boilers heat water or other fluids under extreme pressure to generate electric power and to provide heat. Large tanks and vats are used to process and store chemicals, oil, beer, and hundreds of other products.

Boilers are made out of steel, iron, copper, or stainless steel. Manufacturers are increasingly automating the production of boilers to improve the quality of these vessels. However, boilermakers still use many tools to assemble or repair boilers. For example, they often use hand and power tools or flame-cutting torches to align, cut, and shape pieces for a boiler. Boilermakers also may use plumb bobs, levels, wedges, and turnbuckles to align pieces accurately.

If the plate sections are very large, cranes lift the parts into place. Once boilermakers have the parts lined up, they use metalworking machinery and other tools to remove irregular edges so that the parts fit together properly. They then join the parts by bolting, welding, or riveting them together.

In addition to installing and maintaining boilers and other vessels, boilermakers help erect and repair air pollution abatement equipment, blast furnaces, water treatment plants, storage and process tanks, and smokestacks. Boilermakers also install refractory brick and other heat-resistant materials in fireboxes or pressure vessels. Some install and maintain the huge pipes used in dams to send water to and from hydroelectric power generation turbines.

Because boilers last a long time—sometimes 50 years or more—boilermakers must maintain them regularly by upgrading parts. As a result, they frequently inspect fittings, feed pumps, safety and check valves, water and pressure gauges, and boiler controls.

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How To Become A Boiler Maker

Most boilermakers learn their trade through an apprenticeship program. Candidates are more likely to be accepted into training programs if they already have welding experience and certification.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is generally required. High school courses in math and welding are considered useful.

Training

Most boilermakers learn their trade through a 4- or 5-year apprenticeship. Each year, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. During technical training, apprentices learn about metals and installation techniques, as well as basic mathematics, blueprint reading and sketching, general construction techniques, safety practices, and first aid. On the job, apprentices learn how to signal crane operators and use the tools and equipment of the trade. Those who already have welding experience complete training sooner than those without it.

A few groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Physically able to do the work

In addition to satisfying these qualifications, candidates with certified or documented welding experience usually have priority over applicants without experience. Some apprenticeship programs have preferred entry for veterans.

When they finish the apprenticeship program, boilermakers are considered to be journey workers, performing tasks under the guidance of experienced workers. 

Some boilermakers enter the trade through training in similar occupations, such as pipefitters, millwrights, sheet metal workers, or welders. Much of the core training of those occupations is similar to that of boilermakers.

Important Qualities

Mechanical skills. Boilermakers use and maintain a large variety of equipment, such as hoists and welding machines.

Physical stamina. Boilermakers must have high endurance because they spend many hours on their feet while lifting heavy boiler components.

Physical strength. Boilermakers must be strong enough to move heavy vat components into place.

Unafraid of confined spaces. Boilermakers often work inside boilers and vats, so they cannot be claustrophobic.

Unafraid of heights. Some boilermakers must work at great heights. While installing water storage tanks, for example, workers may need to weld tanks several stories above the ground.

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Top Skills for A Boiler Maker

  1. Safety Valves
  2. Boilers
  3. Hand Tools
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Repaired defective pressure vessel parts, such as safety valves and regulators.
  • Cut and prep tubes for installation in boilers; weld structures; grind, cut, prep rig structures into place.
  • Installed valves, gauges, and feed water connections in drums of water tube boilers, using hand tools.
  • Attach rigging and signal crane or hoist operators to lift heavy frame and plate sections or other parts into place.
  • Verify vertical and horizontal alignment of structural steel members, using plumb bobs, laser equipment, transits, or levels.

Boiler Maker Demographics

Gender

Male

84.2%

Unknown

9.3%

Female

6.4%
Ethnicity

White

55.5%

Hispanic or Latino

19.6%

Black or African American

16.0%

Asian

6.0%

Unknown

2.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.7%

Carrier

11.1%

Portuguese

5.6%

Turkish

5.6%

Hindi

5.6%

Russian

5.6%
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Boiler Maker Education

Schools

Lee College

13.8%

Lamar Institute of Technology

8.3%

Del Mar College

6.9%

Baton Rouge Community College

6.2%

Tulsa Welding School

5.5%

Lamar University

5.5%

Universal Technical Institute

5.5%

The Academy

5.5%

San Jacinto College District

4.8%

Lamar State College - Orange

4.1%

Brazosport College

4.1%

Houston Community College

4.1%

A-Technical College

3.4%

Southern University and A & M College

3.4%

Southeastern Louisiana University

3.4%

College of the Mainland

3.4%

McNeese State University

3.4%

Alvin Community College

2.8%

Sowela Technical Community College

2.8%

Texas A&M University

2.8%
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Majors

Precision Metal Working

24.7%

Business

12.4%

General Studies

8.0%

Industrial Technology

7.0%

Automotive Technology

6.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.3%

Electrical Engineering

4.0%

Criminal Justice

4.0%

Computer Science

3.0%

Education

2.7%

Electromechanical Instrumentation And Maintenance Technologies/Technicians

2.7%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.7%

Apparel And Textiles

2.3%

Drafting And Design

2.3%

Kinesiology

2.3%

Mechanical Engineering

2.3%

Engineering

2.3%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.3%

Music

2.0%

Medical Assisting Services

2.0%
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Degrees

Other

56.4%

Certificate

14.6%

Associate

13.0%

Bachelors

9.9%

Diploma

3.9%

Masters

1.6%

License

0.6%
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