Skilled Trades Careers

What is a Boilermaker and What Do They Do at Work?

DateFebruary 13, 2024
what is a boilermaker what do they do at work

Are you interested in a trade that's crucial to the industrial sector? Boilermakers are skilled workers responsible for building and maintaining boilers, tanks, and vats used in various industries. Their work is essential for ensuring the safety and efficiency of industrial equipment.

If you want to learn more about the boilermaker trade and how to become one, sign up for a free SkillHero account. You'll get access to resources, training, and networking opportunities to kickstart your career in the skilled trades.

Then keep reading to learn all about the ins and outs of the boilermaker profession and take the first step towards a rewarding career in this in-demand trade.

What is a boilermaker?

A boilermaker is a skilled tradesperson responsible for assembling, installing, maintaining, and repairing boilers and other large vessels that hold liquids and gasses. Their duties typically include reading blueprints, welding, cutting and shaping metal, and using heavy machinery to manipulate metal components.

They work in a variety of settings including construction sites, manufacturing plants, and maintenance facilities. To get started in this trade, you typically need to complete an apprenticeship program or vocational training after getting a high school diploma or equivalent.

You'll likely receive employer-provided training which may include welding and metalworking skills.

Having reliable physical strength and stamina to handle the demands of the job is usually a requirement. Attention to detail and the ability to work in a team are important qualities for success in this occupation.

What does a boilermaker do at work?

Professionals in this trade work with boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers used in industrial settings. Their work is crucial in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of industrial equipment, making them an essential part of any industrial operation.

Due to the potentially dangerous nature of the work, extensive safety training is required and must be regularly updated to adhere to the most recent standards. To become successful you'll need to possess a specific set of skills and qualifications.

This includes proficiency in welding, blueprint reading, and mechanical aptitude, as well as physical strength and stamina to handle heavy equipment and work in various environments. Boilermakers also undergo specialized training and may need to obtain certifications to work in their trade.

What's the average salary for a boilermaker?

The average salary for a boilermaker in the United States ranges from $46,560 for apprentices to $66,920 for journeymen and up to $95,700 or more for masters. The salary range can vary based on location, with higher wages in states like Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington.

boilermaker average salary

Specializations in areas like nuclear power plants or oil refineries can also contribute to higher income. For example, marine workers typically work on ships and shipyards, requiring more travel and specialized certifications which may result in higher pay.

Boilermaker trade paths

While all boilermakers fabricate, assemble, install, and maintain boilers, tanks, and other large vessels, there are five unique trade paths within the trade: General Boilermaker, Construction Boilermaker, Industrial Boilermaker, Marine Boilermaker, and Shop Boilermaker.

General Boilermakers work in a variety of settings, including power plants, manufacturing facilities, and refineries, fabricating and assembling boilers and other large vessels. Construction Boilermakers primarily work on construction sites, installing and repairing boilers and other pressure vessels.

Industrial Boilermakers focus on maintenance and repair work in industrial settings such as factories and processing plants. Marine Boilermakers work on ships and other maritime vessels, installing and repairing boilers and other equipment. Shop Boilermakers work in manufacturing shops, fabricating and assembling parts for boilers and other vessels.

If you're interested in becoming a boilermaker, researching the different trade paths to determine which you'd like to follow will be helpful for your future.

Is boilermaker a difficult trade?

The boilermaker trade is known for its high difficulty level, requiring a unique blend of skills, physical strength, and stamina. You must have excellent welding and metalworking skills, as well as the ability to work in confined spaces or at heights. The trade also involves heavy lifting, exposure to uncomfortable temperatures, and potential hazards.

Getting started in this trade typically requires completing a formal apprenticeship program, which combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Certification is often obtained through a national organization, and ongoing education is crucial to stay current with industry advancements and safety standards.

what is a boilermaker

Unions and professional organizations play a vital role in supporting trade workers by advocating for fair wages, benefits, and safe working conditions. They also provide resources for continued skills development and networking opportunities within the field.

Is the work physically and mentally demanding?

Most skilled trade work can be both physically and mentally demanding, and this trade is a prime example. Workers often engage in tasks that require significant physical exertion, such as heavy lifting, repetitive motions, and working in challenging environments.

Workers may encounter mentally demanding tasks that require problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making skills.

Employers often provide regular breaks and accommodations for workers to manage the demands of their job. This can include scheduled rest periods, comfortable work environments, and access to resources for mental wellness.

Skilled trade work requires a balance of physical and mental abilities, and it's important for workers to prioritize self-care and utilize available resources for support.

How to know if boilermaker is the trade for you

If you're considering this trade as a potential career path, here's some insight to help you decide. If you enjoy working with your hands, have a strong attention to detail, and are interested in a career that offers hands-on experience and a competitive salary, then becoming a boilermaker may be a good option.

While it is a physically and mentally challenging trade that requires working with heavy materials like steel and other metals as well as strenuous environments, it can also be highly rewarding. With above-average pay rates and job security even for a skilled trade, this path reduces the likelihood that you'll ever have to change careers due to the in-demand nature of the work.

While there are less than 15,000 jobs nationwide in this trade, job openings are expected to increase by at least 1000 per year, which is about a 7% annual increase. This indicates that most people who successfully complete apprenticeships and get the right certifications will enjoy long and lucrative careers.

Getting started with SkillHero

If you're a student or skilled trade worker looking for opportunities, training, and resources for the trades, the SkillHero puts everything you need in one convenient place. Our app provides access to a database of education and employment opportunities, networking features, an easy-to-use resume builder, and a unique program called ApprenticeConnect.

All of this makes it as convenient as possible to get started in the trades or grow your career. With SkillHero, you can browse various opportunities, access guides and potential mentors, and connect with industry professionals to further your career. Create a free SkillHero account to take the first steps toward advancing your skills and career.