Working in a harness on top of a dam hundreds of feet up… crouched in a corner of a storage tank… sparks flying… the work of a boilermaker takes strength, stamina, and the willingness to endure heights as well as confined spaces. Boilermakers install and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels that are used to process and store chemicals, oil, beer, and hundreds of other products. Boilermakers also build and repair blast furnaces, water treatment plants, and pollution abatement equipment. Some install the huge pipes used in dams. Boilermakers follow blueprints to install boilers, and to test or repair them. They use flame-cutting torches and welding equipment, as well as other hand and machine tools. Their work is physically demanding and dangerous. They often work outdoors, sometimes in extreme heat and cold. They must wear hardhats, safety glasses, earplugs and other protective clothing… including respirators when working in enclosed spaces. Boilermakers work full time, but may work overtime to meet construction deadlines or to complete work during an equipment shutdown. They often travel to worksites… living away from home for extended periods. Seasonal unemployment is not unusual during summer and winter —off seasons for maintenance— or when construction projects have been completed. After completing high school, most boilermakers learn their trade through apprenticeships. Welding experience is helpful to qualify for an apprenticeship.
What they do:
Construct, assemble, maintain, and repair stationary steam boilers and boiler house auxiliaries. Align structures or plate sections to assemble boiler frame tanks or vats, following blueprints. Work involves use of hand and power tools, plumb bobs, levels, wedges, dogs, or turnbuckles. Assist in testing assembled vessels. Direct cleaning of boilers and boiler furnaces. Inspect and repair boiler fittings, such as safety valves, regulators, automatic-control mechanisms, water columns, and auxiliary machines.
On the job, you would:
Attach rigging and signal crane or hoist operators to lift heavy frame and plate sections or other parts into place.
Study blueprints to determine locations, relationships, or dimensions of parts.
Repair or replace defective pressure vessel parts, such as safety valves or regulators, using torches, jacks, caulking hammers, power saws, threading dies, welding equipment, or metalworking machinery.
Engineering and Technology
building and construction
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
Manufactured or Agricultural Goods
manufacture and distribution of products
thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
Hand and Finger Use
keep your arm or hand steady
put together small parts with your fingers
quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat
use your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down
Ideas and Logic
notice when problems happen
use rules to solve problems
listen and understand what people say
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Computer based training software
Health and safety training software
Office suite software
no high school diploma/GED or certificate after high school usually needed
New job opportunities are likely in the future.
Green jobs will increase the demand for this type of work.