What *is* a boilermaker, anyway?

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Boilermakers earn good money and get to work with their hands all day. You also won’t have to get a four-year degree to become one. If you’re not sure what a boilermaker is yet, don’t worry. We’ve put together everything that you need to know about the job in the sections below.

What is a Boilermaker, exactly?

A boilermaker is a skilled tradesperson who works with boilers. These are large tanks and vats, which are commonly found in buildings, factories, and ships. A boiler is used to heat water and other types of fluid so that they can be used to create power or provide heat. It’s the boilermaker’s job to ensure that these things work properly.

Boilermakers assist with every aspect of boiler operations. They spend some of their time manufacturing new boilers and creating new parts for existing ones. They also install boilers into buildings and ships.

A boilermaker will also assist with the repair and maintenance of boilers that have already been installed. In this role, they’ll perform tasks such as:

  • Analyzing blueprints
  • Checking the boiler for leaks and other types of defects
  • Replacing broken pipes, valves, and joints
  • Using welding equipment to make repairs
  • Cleaning the interior of the boiler with wire brushes and cleaning solutions
  • And perform related maintenance tasks

Do boilermakers make good money?

If you’re thinking of entering into a new line of work, you need to make sure that the pay is good enough to support your family before doing so. That shouldn’t be a problem if you become a boilermaker. These workers do quite well.

Boilermakers make an average of $63,100 per year. That translates to an hourly rate of about $30.34. This is good for a job that doesn’t require a college degree.

For example, compare what a boilermaker earns to the average salary for someone without a college degree. It sits at just $38,792 or $43,316 for someone who’s completed some college but earned no degree.

So if you become a boilermaker, you could start earning much more than the average for someone with a similar level of education. This earning potential is what attracts many new candidates to the job.

How dangerous is being a boilermaker?

Boilermakers tend to earn more than other workers in similar industries for a few different reasons. But one of those is that they’re exposed to dangerous situations a bit more often than their counterparts are.

For example, a boilermaker will often work with heavy objects that are being moved about a job site very quickly. There’s always an immediate risk of being struck by one of these objects and sustaining a concussion or a crush injury.

Some dangers can sneak up on a boilermaker. For example, someone in this role will spend a lot of time working in very hot settings. This could lead to burns if you’re not careful.

Other risks of the role include:

  • Long periods of being exposed to loud noises
  • Excessive vibration, which can lead to chronic pain
  • Asbestos exposure
  • Lead exposure
  • Other injuries to the back and neck

These are things that you need to be aware of before becoming a boilermaker. But don’t let them turn you off from the position entirely. Most of these problems can be avoided by simply taking precautions and being vigilant while you work.

What kind of training do you need to become a boilermaker?

If you’re interested in becoming a boilermaker, then you’ll likely need to go through some training. For many aspiring boilermakers, that means completing an apprenticeship. You can do so through an organization like the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

Apprenticeships for this job tend to last between three and four years. But unlike pursuing a college degree, you get to earn while you learn when you complete an apprenticeship. So you can support yourself throughout the training process.

Completing an apprenticeship will give you the chance to learn alongside expert boilermakers. They’ll teach you how to do things like:

  • Weld
  • Read blueprints
  • Roll tubes
  • Cut various materials
  • Use various types of equipment
  • Complete the boiler layout and fabrication process
  • And more

You might also want to get a certification. These aren’t necessarily required. But they can help you stand from the competition during your job hunt.

Is there a difference between boilermakers and welders?

Some people view boilermakers as just a specific type of welder. That’s not entirely untrue. But it’s also not perfectly accurate. A boilermaker will complete welding tasks as a part of their job. But many only do so seldomly. Additionally, there are many other tasks that a boilermaker completes that don’t involve welding.

For example, a welder’s main job is to bond various metals together by using heat. But a boilermaker’s main priority is to focus on the manufacture, installation, and maintenance of boilers. That may sometimes involve welding but it’s not though a boilermaker is a welding specialist in the same way that a welder would be.

What’s the job outlook for boilermakers?

One of the downsides to this career path is its slow growth rate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the boilermaker job category is expected to grow by 1% from 2019-2029. You can compare that to the average job growth rate during that period, which is about 3.7%.

This doesn’t mean that it will be impossible for you to become a boilermaker if that’s what you want to do. Rather, it only means that you need to take some steps to make yourself stand out during the job application process. Check out the next section for tips on how to do that.

How do I get hired as a boilermaker?

Although the growth outlook for boilermakers is low, you can still enter into the career path if you’re smart about how you apply for jobs. Here’s a three-step process that you can follow to get hired as a boilermaker.

STEP 1: GET EDUCATED

First, you need to develop the skills that every boilermaker needs. The best way to do this is by completing an apprenticeship with an expert. You’ll likely get to spend 3-4 years working under someone very skilled at what they do. Use that time to learn everything that you can from them and you’ll be well on your way to getting hired as a boilermaker.

It’s also a good idea to pursue a certification or two. Shoot for certifications that cover skills that you’ll need to have as a boilermaker. For example, you might want to get a welding certification or maybe one for blueprint reading. Having certifications like these can help you stand out from other applicants during the job hunt.

STEP 2: PUT TOGETHER A GREAT APPLICATION

Next, it’s time to put together a strong job application. That starts with an excellent resume. A resume will provide the places that you apply to with a quick look at your most desirable skills, training, and experience. 

You should highlight all of your best qualities in a way that can be quickly conveyed to potential employers. So use short, descriptive sentences and bullet points to quickly capture the main pieces of information.

On top of that, you may want to write cover letters for the jobs that you apply to. These should clearly state your professional goal as well as what you’ll be able to do to help the employer with their business goals. Be specific. Try not to fall back on generic terms like “problem-solver” if you can help it.

STEP 3: USE ROCK THE TRADES

After you’ve finished your education and put together strong application materials, you’re ready to get hired. You could spend hours searching online for boilermaker jobs in your area. Or you could use Rock the Trades instead.

Rock the Trades automatically connects you with employers who are looking for applicants that match your qualifications. You can use the tool to quickly find boilermaker jobs that align with your professional goals and current skill set. And we won’t charge you a thing to use the tool.

Getting started is easy. You can begin by downloading the Rock the Trades app. When you do, you’ll be asked to create a profile that includes your academic history and previous work experience, among other things.

Once you’ve put together your free Rock the Trades profile, we’ll immediately begin looking for good boilermaker job opportunities for you. It could be just what you need to get hired into your new career path.

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