Boilermakers manufacture, install, maintain and repair boilers, tanks, vats, heat exchangers, furnaces and pressure vessels that are used to hold liquids and gases. They can work across a variety of industries, thus creating versatility and career growth opportunities in the profession.
What Does a Boilermaker Do?
Boilermakers handle all the issues relating to boilers, vats and such other large storage tanks. Their specific duties are to:
- Prepare the blueprints for the boilers, vats or pressure vessels
- Fabricate the components to be used in constructing the boiler into the required shapes then assemble them or use prefabricated components
- Construct according to the dimensions and specifications of the blueprints
- Test the boilers to determine whether they are functioning effectively
- Install boilers into commercial and residential buildings
- Conduct routine maintenance such as cleaning the boilers and vats
- Repair broken, leaking or defective boilers whenever the need arises
An academic degree is not required to work as a boilermaker. Aspiring boilermakers need to undergo an apprenticeship program under an experienced professional for a period of at least four years to qualify for a job.
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a high school diploma or a GED
- Be physically fit and capable of performing the manual labour
- Certification in welding, ability to read and interpret blueprints and previous experience in metal fabrication all increase your chances of qualifying for an apprenticeship
In the course of the apprenticeship program, boilermakers are equipped with knowledge on:
- Welding technology and techniques
- Occupational safety
- Drawing, reading and interpreting blueprints and drawings
- Metal cutting and fabrication
- Construction and installation techniques
- Safety practices
- First aid and emergency medical response
You will need the following skills if you are to succeed as a boilermaker:
- Manual dexterity and an aptitude for mechanics and construction
- Physical fitness and an ability to work in cramped and noisy spaces and at heights
- Ability to interpret design drawings and to pay keen attention to detail
- Ability to work well with others in a team
- Ability to effectively manipulate the heavy machinery and equipment used for the job
The salary of a boilermaker depends on whether he is a fully qualified journeyman or an apprentice and his years of experience. The average per annum salary range is:
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
The work of a boilermaker is not only physically demanding, it is dangerous since it involves working with open flames, extreme heat, in cramped, wet and noisy spaces and using heavy equipment and machinery. Boilermakers spend all their working hours on the plant floor. They work regular hours but could find themselves working overtime when they are up against strict deadlines or conducting emergency repair. Due to the unique nature of their product, boilermakers sometimes have to travel to install the boilers, vats or pressure vessels.
Boilermakers are employed in the construction, engineering, mining, refinery and fabrication industries as well as in power plants. Therefore, there are numerous job opportunities that they can pursue. After seven years on the job, a boilermaker can rise to the position of supervisor or foreman and further still to project manager. There are career growth opportunities for those who are willing to stick it out and acquire the necessary years of experience on the job.
If you love doing manual work and would like to be engaged in a profession where you can choose your employment from a number of industries, then becoming a boilermaker is the right career choice for you.
Image Source: Boilmakers.org