Boilermakers typically begin training by enrolling in a welding certificate program or formal apprenticeship. Boilermakers are required to have a high school diploma or GED certificate to pursue either path. Boilermakers should be able to read technical metal diagrams and blueprints. They should be able to perform highly technical duties while adhering to strict safety policies set by employers. Boilermakers should be able to work with welders, foremen, and other construction professionals to finish projects.
A welding certificate program can prepare students for careers as boilermakers by teaching skills and providing experience prior to an apprenticeship. Students learn various welding and metal fabrication techniques and learn to safely operate welding tools and materials. Most programs require 1-3 semesters of study and include courses in:
- Welding technology
- Oxy-fuel welding
- Shielded metal arc welding
- Reading welding blueprints
- Welding safety
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Prospects are best for boilermakers with 4-7 years of experience. An apprenticeship typically provides boilermakers with at least four years of experience; advanced positions may require additional years of journeyman experience. Supervisory and foreman positions may be available to boilermakers with more than seven years of experience.
Boilermaker apprenticeships involve four years of training and combine traditional classroom teaching with practical experience. Apprenticeships provide boilermakers with at least 6,000 hours of paid training and 144 hours of classroom coursework. Apprentices work under the supervision of one or more experienced boilermakers and learn to install boilers, piping systems and related products.
Boilermakers are not required to be licensed or certified. Instead, boilermakers demonstrate proficiency through successful completion of an apprenticeship. Boilermakers can obtain voluntary certification, however, from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Certification is available to experienced boilermakers who pass a 2-hour exam that covers boilermaker safety, metal fabrication, rigging, metal cutting methods, metal preparation, piping systems, and valve installation. Boilermakers who obtain NCCER certification are added to NCCER's National Registry, which records training and education information for construction professionals.
Boilermaker workshops and training seminars are mostly available through apprenticeships. Workshops teach students advanced metal cutting, preparation, and drafting skills. Because boilermakers use potentially dangerous tools, many workshops focus on safety issues. Employers may also offer workshops or orientation programs for newly hired boilermakers.
The NCCER (www.nccer.org) maintains a database of training centers that offer boilermaker workshops. Boilermakers can find training centers by location and field. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) also offers workshops for boilermakers. The ASME offers more than ten courses, such as alteration of pressure equipment, combustion principles, mechanical insulation designs, boiler fabrication, and welding technology.
Professional development resources are available from the NCCER and the ASME. Both organizations offer continuing education and career advancement opportunities. In addition, boilermakers can advance in the industry by joining the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. This union offers information for apprenticeship programs, continuing education courses and information on legislation relevant to boilermakers. Boilermakers can also find helpful career information in The Boilermaker Reporter, a magazine published four times each year by the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.
Aspiring boilermakers generally pursue a welding certificate program, which typically also requires an apprenticeship. While certification and licensing are not required to work as a boilermaker, there are a number of certifications and continuing education opportunities.