How To Become a Boilermaker

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 5, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Boilermakers are professionals who train to work safely with boilers and tanks. This profession can be a lucrative and rewarding career choice for those who enjoy hands-on work involving tools and machinery. Learning how to become a boilermaker can help you better determine whether this career path is the right choice for you. In this article, we discuss what a boilermaker is, what some of their typical skills include and which steps you can take to become a professional boilermaker.

What is a boilermaker?

A boilermaker is a tradesperson who builds, installs and repairs boilers and tanks. Boilers heat the liquid that helps generate power or provides heat to buildings or ships, while tanks are storage units that hold chemicals, such as oil or gas. After gaining experience and possibly pursuing certification, a prospective boilermaker might begin their career as an associate or entry-level boilermaker before advancing to senior positions.

What does a boilermaker do?

Here is a list of some primary duties that boilermakers might have no matter their employer or work environment:

  • Installing boilers into buildings

  • Handling tools and equipment for boiler repair and installation

  • Diagnosing issues that require repairs

  • Using welding techniques to assemble boilers

  • Cleaning debris caused by boiler installation

  • Studying blueprints to understand the location and position of boiler parts

  • Repairing or replacing any broken boiler parts, such as valves, gauges or pipes.

Boilers and tanks are necessary equipment for many different industries. Therefore, a boilermaker's work environment, and consequently their tasks, might change depending on where or for whom they work.

How to become a boilermaker

Here are some steps that can help assist you in becoming a professional boilermaker:

1. Earn a high school diploma or GED

To become a boilermaker, most employers require you to attain a high school diploma or complete a GED program. While obtaining a diploma or GED, you can take classes that help develop important skills for boilermakers to have. You might consider taking classes related to welding or woodworking so you can familiarize yourself with electric tools and heavy machinery. You may also consider taking geometry classes, which can help you analyze measurements accurately to understand where to place boilers.

2. Consider a welding certification

Boilermakers often use complex welding techniques to install boilers safely and accurately. Though most employers do not require you to have a welding certification, you may have a better chance of being accepted into apprenticeship programs if you have experience and certification in welding. Here is a list of welding certifications that can benefit you as a boilermaker:

  • Certified Welder (CW): This certification has no minimum requirements and is good for individuals looking to obtain welding certification who have little background knowledge or experience in welding.

  • Certified Welding Inspector (CWI): This certification requires qualifying experience in welding, and it is ideal for individuals with some background in welding who are seeking to improve their knowledge.

  • Certified Associate Welding Inspector (CAWI): This certification requires qualifying experience and education in welding and is a good choice for individuals who have an extensive background in welding.

Related: Learn About Being a Welder

3. Gain experience

The best way for a prospective boilermaker to obtain experience is through an apprenticeship program. In an apprenticeship program, you can gain valuable knowledge and training from experienced boilermakers, who teach proper installation techniques, how to repair boilers and how to use the tools that assist them in their craft. You may also gain experience using necessary equipment while under the close supervision of other boilermakers. Most boilermaker apprenticeships are two to four years long and include paid training.

To find a boilermaker apprenticeship program, you can search online or contact local trade schools to see if they offer apprenticeship programs that are a good fit for you. You can also apply to a union since many unions offer apprenticeships with on-the-job training included.

Related: How To Find an Apprenticeship Program

4. Build your network

As a boilermaker, it's essential to build your network so you can pursue available job opportunities and eventually advance your career. To establish connections with other boilermakers, you may develop relationships with colleagues while you are an apprentice, or you can join professional boilermaker societies, such as the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers or the Boilermakers Union.

5. Update your resume

As you gain professional experience, it's important to update your resume so potential employers can see your full range of talent and skills related to installing and repairing boilers. You can use keywords in your resume that might help separate yourself from competitive applicants. Some important keywords and phrases for a boilermaker resume may include:

  • Installation

  • Blueprint analysis

  • Assemble boiler parts

  • Align boilerplates

  • Welding experience

6. Apply to jobs

Once you have updated your resume, be sure to apply to jobs for which you are qualified. For example, as you begin your career, consider applying to entry-level jobs or associate boilermaker positions. As you advance in your career, you may qualify for managerial positions, such as senior boilermaker positions.

Average salary and job outlook

The average salary for boilermakers is $64,277 per year. However, a boilermaker's salary may vary depending on their certifications, experience and education level.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects boilermaker jobs to remain steady from now to 2029, growing 1% over the next decade. Since boilers tend to remain operative for several decades, there is a need for boilermakers to frequently repair and replace parts of boilers. Boilermakers can continue installing and replacing boilers as old boilers break or become outdated.

What is the typical work environment like for a boilermaker?

Boilermakers often perform their work in small spaces. They might work in an underground basement, outdoor spaces or other small boiler room settings. Their worksite is often damp, dark and not well-ventilated since boiler rooms typically have no windows or air vents. Boilermakers might have to work in extreme heat or cold temperatures, depending on the location in which they work, as many boilers that are outside are vulnerable to harsh weather conditions.

Boilermaker skills

Here are several skills that boilermakers use on a daily basis:

Problem-solving

Boilermakers often possess strong problem-solving skills to find potential issues that arise during boiler installation or repair any boilers that break post-installation. It's essential for boilermakers to develop solutions so employees and customers are safe, as a broken or damaged boiler may result in dangerous outcomes.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Detail-oriented

It's important for boilermakers to be detail-oriented since much of their job requires following precise measurements and blueprints as they install boilers. To avoid any errors, boilermakers study blueprints closely and follow measurements accurately.

Teamwork

Boiler installation typically requires a team of several professionals to install properly. Boilermakers often work to assist one another in moving heavy parts, diagnosing issues and installing boilers, so if each boilermaker on an installation team has excellent teamwork skills, a job may be completed more efficiently and safely.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

Physical endurance

Boilermakers often possess excellent physical endurance since installing boilers requires individuals to stand for long periods of time. They may also squat, kneel or lift heavy objects to and from a worksite.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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