Most large buildings have extensive heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems that keep interiors comfortable. Industrial plants also have facilities for electrical power or steam to operate equipment. Stationary engineers and boiler operators control the stationary engines, boilers, and other mechanical equipment that provides utilities both for buildings and for industry. Workers typically monitor water levels, read gauges and meters, and ensure furnaces and boilers have fuel. They also monitor safety devices and keep maintenance logs. Engineers and operators are often exposed to heat, dirt, grease, and smoke. They spend much of their time on their feet, and may spend hours kneeling or crouching to crawl inside boilers and clean or repair equipment. With a high level of injury risk, engineers and boiler operators must follow procedures to guard against burns, electric shock, noise, and exposure to hazardous materials. Most stationary engineers and boiler operators work regular full time business hours. However, in 24/7 facilities such as hospitals, engineers and operators may work 8-hour shifts or 12-hour shifts on a rotating basis, and work weekends and holidays. Stationary engineers and boiler operators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and are trained either on the job or through an apprenticeship program. Many employers require licensure or passing a company-specific exam before an operator is allowed to work unsupervised.

Stationary engineers and boiler operators control stationary engines, boilers, or other mechanical equipment to provide utilities for buildings or for industrial purposes.

What Do Stationary Engineers and Boiler Operators Do?


Stationary engineers and boiler operators typically do the following:

  • Operate engines, boilers, and auxiliary equipment
  • Read gauges, meters, and charts to track boiler operations
  • Monitor boiler water, chemical, and fuel levels
  • Activate valves to change the amount of water, air, and fuel in boilers
  • Fire coal furnaces or feed boilers, using gas feeds or oil pumps
  • Inspect equipment to ensure that it is operating efficiently
  • Check safety devices routinely
  • Record data and keep logs of operation, maintenance, and safety activity

Most large commercial facilities have extensive heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems that maintain comfortable temperatures all year long. Industrial plants often have additional facilities to provide electrical power, steam, or other services. Stationary engineers and boiler operators control and maintain boilers, air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment, turbines, generators, pumps, and compressors.

Stationary engineers and boiler operators start up, regulate, repair, and shut down equipment. They monitor meters, gauges, and computerized controls to ensure that equipment operates safely and within established limits. They use sophisticated electrical and electronic test equipment to service, troubleshoot, repair, and monitor heating, cooling, and ventilation systems.

Stationary engineers and boiler operators also perform routine maintenance. They may completely overhaul or replace defective valves, gaskets, or bearings. In addition, they lubricate moving parts, replace filters, and remove soot and corrosion that can make a boiler less efficient.