Boilermakers make and install boilers and other large containers that house gases or liquids such as oil. Job duties include reading blueprints, casting pieces and bending them into shape, and welding or bolting pieces together. Boilermakers also test completed boilers and perform routine maintenance. They often upgrade boilers to meet environmental standards and increase their efficiency. Boilermakers can work for refineries or construction or natural resource companies, or they can find careers as metal fabricators or power or water plant operators.
Most prospective boilermakers earn a high school diploma or GED and then enroll in an apprenticeship training program, such as the Boilermakers National Joint Apprenticeship Program (www.bnap.com). This program takes approximately four years to complete and requires 6,000 hours of work assignments and 576 hours in the classroom, studying such disciplines as welding, drafting, rigging, and boiler technology. Alternately, some boilermakers take courses at a technical school before learning additional skills directly from their employers.
Being a boilermaker is physically demanding, and workers must have the necessary strength, coordination, and manual dexterity to complete the job. They also must possess various technical skills, such as the ability to weld, work with a variety of tools, and use rigging. Boilermakers must be prepared to travel to project sites and spend long spans of time away from home.