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At a Glance

  • Read and interpret blueprints
  • Use a variety of hand tools
  • Usually work alone
  • Often travel to work sites
  • Usually work seasonally
  • Train through apprenticeships

Career summary

Boilermakers build, install, and repair boilers. They also work on other large containers that hold liquids and gases.

#4/1/19 lh

Boilermakers read blueprints and mark reference points on boiler foundations. They attach ropes or chains to the boiler pieces, and signal to crane operators where to move them. Boilermakers use hammers, files, grinders, and cutting torches to remove uneven edges or reshape bent plates. They align the sections and bolt or weld the pieces to attach them. They test for leaks or other defects. They may put together large pieces before installation to make sure everything fits.

Boilermakers regularly maintain boilers. They update the burners, boiler tubes, and other parts to increase efficiency. Boilermaker mechanics inspect boilers and repair or replace any parts that are not working properly.

Related careers

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to boilermakers.

Common work activities

Boilermakers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, boilermakers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Boilermakers frequently:

It is important for boilermakers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for boilermakers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Boilermakers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a boilermaker, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Boilermakers learn their skills through apprenticeship training programs. Admission to apprenticeship programs is competitive. To apply for an apprenticeship, you must:

Apprenticeship programs usually consist of four years of on-the-job training. You are paid for the time you spend on the job. In addition, each year you receive at least 144 hours of classroom training.

To learn about specific apprenticeship opportunities in your area, consult the US Department of Labor State Apprenticeship Information (external link) website.

You can prepare for an apprenticeship by taking courses at a professional-technical or two-year school. Courses in shop, general math, and drafting prepare students to enter apprenticeship programs. However, these courses are not required to qualify for an apprenticeship.

Washington apprenticeships

In Washington, to enter the apprenticeship program, applicants should:

Some apprenticeship programs also require applicants to:

For further information on apprenticeships in Washington, contact:

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Apprenticeship Program (external link)

PO Box 44530
Olympia, WA 98504-4530

#Checked apprenticeship info , 2/15/18 cj. 4/1/19 lh

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate. You should consider taking Algebra and Geometry as your math courses and Chemistry and Physics as your science courses.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers prefer to hire helpers who are high school or vocational school graduates. They also prefer employees who have been trained or are experienced in handling and using tools. Many employers look to union hiring halls to find the skilled workers they are seeking.

Many employers prefer experienced workers who have completed a four-year apprenticeship. Employers may also look for applicants who are certified welders. Apprenticeship programs give priority to applicants who have welding certification.

#Western JAC website application info 5/12/13 lh

Journey-level workers may be able to find work in the machinist, pipefitter, ironworker, or sheet metal trades if those unions cannot supply qualified workers.


Take metal shop classes. Washington Association of Building Officials (WABO) and stick welding certifications are helpful.

Costs to workers

Workers need to buy protective clothing such as a welding jacket and steel-toed boots. Most workers are required to join a union and pay an initiation fee and dues.


Some states require boilermakers to be certified. Requirements vary by state.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


#In Washington, the average entry-level wage for boilermakers is $19.93 per hour ($3,454 per month).

#Updated ES wage info 07.16 sd

Boilermakers (SOC 47-2011)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $26.49 $27.83 $30.07 $31.77 $44.45
Monthly $4,591 $4,823 $5,211 $5,506 $7,703
Yearly $55,100 $57,900 $62,550 $66,080 $92,450
    Vancouver Hourly $22.40 $26.12 $30.51 $37.06 $43.21
Monthly $3,882 $4,527 $5,287 $6,422 $7,488
Yearly $46,602 $54,313 $63,458 $77,082 $89,883
United States Hourly $18.08 $24.55 $29.88 $36.95 $43.24
Monthly $3,133 $4,255 $5,178 $6,403 $7,493
Yearly $37,610 $51,070 $62,150 $76,870 $89,940

Pay varies with the worker's education, experience, and the location of the employer. Starting apprentices make about 60 percent of experienced boilermakers' hourly rate. Their wages go up as they gain more skills and experience.

Boilermakers who work full time usually receive benefits. Common benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, health insurance, and a retirement plan.

About half of all boilermakers belong to a union. Most of them belong to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. The rest belong to the International Association of Machinists, the United Automobile Workers, or the United Steelworkers of America unions.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Boilermakers (SOC 47-2011)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 169 5.9% 16.1% 18
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 25 4.0% 11.9% 3
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 14 28.6% 15.2% 2
    King County 95 0.0% 19.6% 9
United States 14,500 5.5% 5.2% 1,600

National employment

The majority of boilermakers work in boiler manufacturing or repair shops.

Major employers:

National outlook

Growth in this occupation is expected to increase however the amount of growth will depend on the cost of coal or natural gas. Energy produced with coal requires more boilers so if the price of natural gas is low fewer boilers are required.

Since boilermaking is difficult work, there is high turnover. Some job openings will occur from the need to replace people who leave the job or retire. Few people are learning to become boilermakers. Thus, those who finish their training will have good job prospects. Those with welding certifications will have the best opportunities.

Other resources

American Boiler Manufacturers Association (external link)
8221 Old Courthouse Road, Suite 380
Vienna, VA 22015
American Welding Society (external link)
8669 NW 36 Street, #130
Miami, FL 33166
Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program (external link)
753 State Avenue, Suite 480
Kansas City, KS 66101
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers (external link)
753 State Avenue, Suite 570
Kansas City, KS 66101
North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) (external link)
815 16th ST, NW, Suite 600
Washington, D.C. 20006
United Steelworkers of America (external link)
60 Boulevard of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Welding.com (external link)
Western States Boilermaker Joint Apprenticeship Committee (external link)
Boilermakers Local 502
16621 - 110th Avenue East
Puyallup, WA 98374-6857


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters