WHAT IS A BOILERMAKER?
Anyone who works in the boiler construction or repair trade.
A member of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers.
NATURE OF WORK
Boilermakers and boilermaker mechanics make, install, and repair boilers, vats, and other large vessels that hold liquids and gases. Boilers supply steam to drive huge turbines in electric power plants and to provide heat and power inbuildings, factories, and ships. Tanks and vats are used to process and store chemicals, oil, beer, and hundreds of other products. Boilermaker mechanics maintain and repair boilers and similar vessels. They inspect tubes, fittings, valves, controls, and auxiliary machinery and clean or supervise the cleaning of boilers using scrapers, wire brushes, and cleaning solvents. They repair or replace defective parts, using hand and power tools, gas torches, and welding equipment, and may operate metalworking machinery to repair or make parts. They also dismantle leaky boilers, patch weak spots with metal stock, replace defective sections, and strengthen joints. Boilermakers regularly maintain and update components, such as burners and boiler tubes, to increase efficiency.
Boilermakers often use potentially dangerous equipment, such as acetylenetorches and power grinders, handle heavy parts, and work on ladders or on top of large vessels. The work is physically demanding and may be done in cramped quarters inside boilers, vats, or tanks that are often damp and poorly ventilated. In some instances, work may be done at high elevations for an extended period. To reduce the chance of injuries, boilermakers may wear hardhats, harnesses, protective clothing, safety glasses, shoes, and respirators. Boilermakers may experience extended periods of overtime when equipment is shut down for maintenance. Overtime work may also be necessary to meet construction or production deadlines. At other times there may be periods of unemployment between jobs.
TRAINING, OTHER QUALIFICATIONS, AND ADVANCEMENT
Apprenticeship programs usually consist of 4 years of on-the-job-training, supplemented by a minimum of 144 hours of classroom instruction each year in subjects such as set-up and assembly rigging, welding of all types, blueprint reading, and layout. Those with welding training or a welding certification will have priority in applying for apprenticeship programs. Experienced boilermakers often attend apprenticeship classes or seminars to learn about new equipment, procedures, and technology. When an apprenticeship becomes available, the local union publicizes the opportunity by notifying local vocational schools andhigh school vocational programs.