Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases.
What they do
Boilermakers typically do the following:
- Read blueprints to determine locations, positions, and dimensions of boiler parts
- Install small, premade boilers in buildings and manufacturing facilities
- Lay out prefabricated parts of large boilers before assembling them
- Assemble boiler tanks, often using robotic or automatic welders
- Test and inspect boiler systems for leaks or defects
- Clean vats with 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.
Boilermakers do physically demanding work in cramped spaces inside boilers, vats, or tanks that are often dark, damp, noisy, and poorly ventilated. They frequently work outdoors in all types of weather, including extreme heat and cold.
Because dams, boilers, storage tanks, and pressure vessels are large, boilermakers frequently work at great heights. For example, they may be hundreds of feet above the ground when working on a dam.
How to become a Boilermaker
Most boilermakers learn their trade through an apprenticeship program. A high school diploma or equivalent is generally required.
Boilermakers typically learn their trade through an apprenticeship program. During training, workers learn how to use boilermaker tools and equipment on the job. They also learn about metals and installation techniques, blueprint reading and sketching, safety practices, and other topics.
Apprenticeship programs typically last 4 years. When boilermakers finish an apprenticeship, they are considered to be journey-level workers. A few groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs.
The median annual wage for boilermakers was $63,100 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $94,440.
Employment of boilermakers is projected to grow 1 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.
Boilers typically last for decades, but there will be an ongoing need for boilermakers to replace and maintain parts, such as boiler tubes, heating elements, and ductwork. Boilermakers will also continue to be needed to install new equipment, including boilers, pressure vessels, air pollution abatement equipment, and storage and process tanks.
Similar Job Titles
Boiler Maker, Boiler Mechanic, Boiler Repairman, Boiler Service Technician, Boiler Technician, Boilermaker, Boilermaker Mechanic, Boilermaker Pipe Fitter, Boilermaker Welder, Service Technician
Pipe Fitter and Steamfitter, Sheet Metal Worker, Telecommunications Line Installer and Repairer, Maintenance and Repair Worker-General, Gas Compressor and Gas Pumping Station Operator
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- National Association of Construction Boilermaker Employees - NACBE’s mission is to identify key issues that impact the success and vitality of the construction industry and collaborate with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, employers and other industry organizations with mutual interests to facilitate solutions that promote the highest standards of excellence, productivity, safety, and professionalism in the construction industry through the use of information, education, and positive, productive relationships between employers, labor, and industrial owners.
- National Center for Construction Education and Research - NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curriculum and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s Registry System that allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires.
- Associated General Contractors of America - The Associated General Contractors of America works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry; providing opportunities for firms to learn about ways to become more accomplished; and connecting them with the resources and individuals they need to be successful businesses and corporate citizens. Students, check out this organization’s Learn
- Construction Industry Institute - This organization is a consortium of more than 140 leading owner, engineering-contractor, and supplier firms from both the public and private arenas. These organizations have joined together to enhance the business effectiveness and sustainability of the capital facility life cycle through CII research, related initiatives, and industry alliances.
- TAUC-The Association of Union Contractors - TAUC's mission is to act as an advocate for union contractors and enhance cooperation between the three entities involved in the successful completion of construction projects: the union, the contractor and the owner-client, the company for which the work is being completed.
- Boilermakers - This union aggressively prepares, promotes, protects and defends our members. They aim to be the right choice for workers who want an innovative, forward-thinking union that looks out for its members today and tomorrow.
Magazines and Publications
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.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org