What Does a Stationary Engineer Do?

Stationary engineers service air conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems in industrial and commercial buildings. Job duties, training information and licensure requirements for this career can be found below. Schools offering Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties for Stationary Engineers

As a stationary engineer, your job is to maintain the ventilation, heating, and air conditioning systems in structures like malls, warehouses, or manufacturing plants. You will monitor and control the operation of boilers, chillers, condensers, and other machinery used in these temperature control systems. You may also be called upon to repair worn out bearings or replace corroded gaskets. Day-to-day responsibilities may include testing the water circulating through a boiler or air conditioning system and checking to make sure equipment is functioning properly.

Important Facts About Stationary Engineers

Similar Occupations Boilermakers, general maintenance workers, industrial mechanics
Work Environment Stationary engineers generally work inside of factories or production facilities around heavy machinery
Key Skills Attention to detail, dexterity, mechanical skill, problem-solving aptitude
On-the-job Training Stationary engineers are often required to complete approximately 8,000 hours of on-the-job training during an apprenticeship

Training and Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), many stationary engineers learn their trade on the job as apprentices. The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE, www.iuoe.org) sponsors several apprenticeships around the United States. Most last about four years, and apprentices earn around 40-60% of the salary of a fully qualified engineer, with regularly scheduled raises occurring throughout the apprenticeship.

Aspiring stationary engineers may also enroll in a community college's associate's degree or certificate programs. Course topics include basic electricity, boiler installation and maintenance, digital control systems, and refrigeration. Associate's degree programs require you to take additional courses such as math, computer systems, hydraulics, and sheet metal fabrication.

Licensing Requirements

Many states will require you to have a license to work as a stationary engineer. You'll need to pass a written exam after demonstrating that you can meet the appropriate combination of work experience and formal training requirements. Some states may also require you to have lived for up to a year in the state for which you are seeking licensure.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, stationary engineers and boiler operators earned a median annual salary of $56,330 as of May 2014. Job opportunities for these positions were expected to grow at a rate of 3% between the years 2012 and 2022.

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