How to Become a Boiler Technician in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a boiler technician. Learn about the technical skills you'd need for a job in boiler maintenance and repair, as well as education and training options, apprenticeships, licensure and salary potential to find out if this the career for you. Schools offering Automobile Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Boiler Technician Do?

Boiler technicians, also called boiler operators, are specialists who monitor, maintain and sometimes repair boilers. Daily tasks include monitoring gauges and meters to keep track of the performance of boilers, using valves to alter the quantity of water, air and fuel in boilers and conducting inspections of equipment. These inspections include making sure safety devices are in place and keeping detailed logs. The following chart gives a quick overview of this career choice.

Education Required High school diploma
Key Skills Reading gauges and meters, adjusting fuel and fluid levels
Licensure May be required by state or local laws
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% (for stationary engineers and boiler operators)
Median Salary (2015)* $58,530 (for stationary engineers and boiler operators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is a Boiler Technician?

A boiler technician monitors and maintains boilers and their supporting pumps, motors and controls. You may also repair water treatment equipment and storage tanks or install parts upgrades, including boiler tubes and heating elements. Your specific duties include observing and recording readings from gauges and meters and adjusting fuel and fluid levels. You may also test water quality and add corrosion inhibitors, as well as inspect boilers, pipes and valves for leaks or malfunctions. Other duties may include replacing defective components and keeping maintenance logs.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

A high school diploma or G.E.D. is the minimum level of education you need to become a boiler technician. Admission to an apprenticeship or college training program also requires a diploma. Algebra, physics, English and electronics courses are helpful in preparing you for the work of a technician.

Step 2: Consider an Apprenticeship Program

Apprenticeships are sponsored by local affiliates of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and typically last four years. Although you might be able to find programs for boiler technicians, most are for the larger category of stationary engineers. They consist of 6,000-8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 600-792 hours of classroom instruction. Dedicated boiler-technician programs may be shorter, requiring 4,000 training hours and a minimum of 576 hours of classroom instruction. Courses cover boiler types, operation, maintenance and safety. Automatic controls and plant management are other possible courses topics.

Step 3: Earn a Technical Diploma or Associate's Degree

Because openings in apprenticeship programs are limited, you could study independently and then gain experience working as an assistant or helper until you qualify for promotion to technician. Technical diploma programs in power engineering and stationary engineer associate's degree programs both provide you with classroom education in boiler operation. Course content includes technical math, blueprint reading, power controls, metering and hydraulics. Diplomas may be earned in 1-2 years and associate's degrees may be earned in two years.

Step 4: Obtain a License

States or municipalities within a state may require you to have a boiler technician license. Separate licenses are often established for low-pressure and high-pressure boilers. Typically you must be a state or area resident, 18 years old or older and have boiler operator experience to be eligible for the licensing exam. A passing score is usually at least 70%. Licenses are valid for 1-3 years.

Step 5: Obtain a Job

According to the IUOE, your potential employers include hospitals, schools, utilities, government agencies and residential, commercial and industrial buildings (www.iuoe.org). Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that approximately 34,630 stationary engineers and boiler technicians were employed in 2015, which was projected to rise by only one percent between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov).

Demand for your services will arise from growth in the quantity of installed boiler equipment, offset by improvements in automation that make boiler equipment more reliable and less in need of maintenance. The median annual salary of boiler technicians in May 2015 was $58,530, the BLS reported.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Boilermakers have careers closely related to those of boiler technicians, yet there are some key differences. Rather than maintaining and monitoring boilers, these professionals install and repair boilers.

Other related careers include general maintenance and repair workers. They may not specialize in a particular type of equipment, but maintain and repair a variety of commonly used equipment. Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics are trained to install refrigeration and climate control systems. If monitoring equipment and making sure everything is functioning as it should is what attracts you to this field, you should also consider working as a power plant operator or a water and wastewater treatment system operator.

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