Boilermakers construct, install, test, maintain and repair boilers, tanks and other vessels that contain liquids, gases and dry products. These vessels may have unique characteristics. Boilermakers may work from blueprints to fabricate components from steel or other materials. They often have to attach rigging and work with cranes to lift components into place. The systems must be tested for leaks and other defects to ensure they are operating safely and efficiently.123
Boilermakers require a good understanding of welding methods and procedures. However, while welding is a component of this trade, jurisdictions may or may not permit certain welding processes without further certification.
Boilermakers are employed in industries such as metal fabricating, construction, shipbuilding, petroleum, and power generation (hydro, nuclear, thermal). They may be employed in the construction and maintenance of pulp mills, water treatment plants, steel mills, cement, fertilizer and potash plants, breweries, ship yards, offshore platforms, mines, hydro dams and generating stations, as well as ethanol, oil and gas plants.
Boilermakers employ both hot and cold working methods to shape steel components and other materials to form boilers, tanks and vessels. They must use various metal forming machines such as rotary shears, punch presses and bending rolls. Tools such as levels, wedges, grinders and cutting torches are used to smooth edges so the parts fit together. They also use a variety of test equipment and measuring devices. Boilermakers also use tools common to other trades.
The work environment of boilermakers can expose them to hazards. Their work is performed indoors or outdoors and may be at extreme heights or underground. They may be exposed to conditions such as vibration, excessive noise, fumes and other toxic environments, confined spaces, and high degrees of heat.
Key attributes for people entering this trade are: good hand-eye coordination, mechanical aptitude and manual dexterity. Boilermakers must have knowledge of mechanical drawings, and have mathematical aptitudes. They also require strength and stamina to work with heavy components and equipment.
This analysis recognizes similarities and overlaps with the work of metal fabricators, industrial mechanics (millwrights), steamfitters/pipefitters, ironworkers and welders.
With experience, boilermakers may act as mentors and trainers to apprentices in the trade. They may also advance to supervisory positions, quality assurance persons and safety personnel.
For more information, see Red Seal Trades – Boilermaker