Boilermaker technology involves the manufacturing, installation and repair of boilers and other big liquid or gas containers. Below, some resources are provided to help you decide if and how you want to proceed towards a career in boilermaker technology.
Do you enjoy working with your hands on heavy machinery? Are you good with blueprints and detailed work plans? Can you troubleshoot problems in tense situations? Are you comfortable working with a hard hat, glasses and other protective gear? If you answered yes to these questions, you may be well-equipped for a career as a boilermaker or boiler technician.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for boilermakers was expected to increase by 19% from 2008 to 2018, which is considered to be faster than the average rate of growth for all occupations (www.bls.gov). The BLS stated that job prospects should be good because the hazardous and physically demanding nature of the work can cause people qualified for the job to have a change of heart about working in this field. Retirement of aging boilermakers during this period was also expected to play a part in this growth. In May 2010, the BLS also reported that the average annual salary earned by boilermakers was $55,750.
As a prospective boilermaker, you should be physically fit, have keen eyesight, practice safe construction site etiquette, be good with math and work well as a dynamic team member. Typical working environments include coal, nuclear and chemical plants, steel and paper mills, refineries and large ships, all of which may be dangerous working conditions. Proficient boilermakers may pursue other popular welding professions such as a welding inspector or a master welder.
A career in boilermaker technology doesn't typically require a formal education beyond high school. The trade is taught through a mixture of on-the-job training and a formal apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are usually found through local trade councils and companies.
Additionally, some technical and vocational colleges offer boilermaker technology programs. Candidates for apprentice programs are given priority if they have welding certification or extensive welding experience due to the frequency of welding in boilermaker technology. A welding technology associate degree takes two years to complete; a bachelor's degree in welding and engineering technology takes four years to complete. In addition to courses in welding, blueprint reading and layouts and CNC programming, you're expected to take college courses such as mathematics, English composition and social science electives.
Certification is a crucial step towards employment as a boilermaker technician. Boilermaker apprentices become certified after 6,000 hours of experience, 576 classroom hours and a self-study program, followed by a 6-month probationary period. Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) status, useful for other careers in boilermaker technology or increasing your chances for promotion, is received after passing a series of tests offered through the American Welding Society (AWS).