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Boiler Technician: Career Summary, Job Outlook and Training Requirements

Explore the career requirements for boiler technicians. Get the facts about education, job duties, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Is A Boiler Technician?

A boiler is a machine that produces electricity and heat by pressurizing water or other liquids. A boiler technician is responsible for maintaining the heating systems of buildings that make use of water boilers and radiators to distribute heat. Boiler technicians install boilers, assemble boiler tanks, and inspect and test boiler systems to make sure they're working properly. They may also conduct repairs and replace parts as needed. They can also work on blast furnaces, smokestacks, and equipment that helps abate air pollution.

Education Required High school diploma or GED
Education Field of Study Math, welding
Training Required 4-5 year apprenticeship is common
Key Skills Physical stamina, physical strength, ability to work in confined spaces
Job Growth (2018-2028) 6% (for all boilermakers)*
Median Salary (2018) $62,150 (for all boilermakers)*

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

Where Do Technicians Work?

Your leading job opportunities are likely to be with building equipment contractors, nonresidential building construction, utility construction, and boiler, tank and shipping manufacturing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). As of 2018, approximately 14,500 people worked as boilermakers. Employment was projected to increase by six by 2028. Retirements and new commercial and industrial development will account for growth, but increased automation and the occupation's traditionally low turnover will limit growth and make competition for jobs more intense. As of May 2018, the median salary of boilermakers was $62,150.

What Education or Training Do I Need?

You can learn entirely on the job as an assistant to a boiler technician, through an apprenticeship program or from a diploma, certificate or associate's degree program at a community college or technical school. The International Union of Operating Engineers and its local affiliates administer apprenticeship programs, which typically last four years. In these programs, you learn your skills by working on site and in classroom sessions. Course content extends beyond boiler operation and maintenance to include electricity, instruments and controls, testing and indoor air quality.

Diploma and certificate programs last a year or less and cover the fundamentals of operating and repairing low and high-pressure boilers. You may learn basic electricity concepts and their applications to boiler technology, operational parameters of boiler equipment, the characteristics of different types of fuel and their ignition methods and safety standards.

Associate's degree programs last two years and typically refer to stationary engineer or stationary operating engineer rather than boiler technician. They train you to monitor and maintain several types of stationary heating units and their support systems, including boilers, furnaces, diesel engines, pumps, compressors and generators. Courses may also address hydraulics, welding, pipefitting and blueprint reading.

Will I Need a License?

Many states do require boiler technicians to have a license. Apart from age, experience and residency requirements, obtaining a license entails passing an exam. Licenses may also be divided into 4-5 classes that specify the size of equipment you're deemed qualified to operate. The top level permits you to run large facilities and supervise others.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Plumbers perform some tasks that are similar to those of boiler technicians. They repair and install plumbing systems and pipes into buildings. Welders, cutters, solderers and brazers cut and join pieces of metal, which has some similarities to the repair work that boiler technicians do. Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers are responsible for fixing and servicing factory machinery and equipment. Assemblers and fabricators put together products like computers and engines. All of these careers require a high school diploma or GED.