Boiler technicians, or boilermakers, are responsible for building, installing, and maintaining the large containers, or boilers, which hold the liquids and steam used to create heat or power.
Students interested in earning a degree to better prepare for apprenticeship programs in this field might consider an associate's degree program in HVAC technology. Associate's degrees in welding technology could also be a good fit. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), individuals with welding training or welding certification may have a better chance of getting into boilermaker apprenticeship programs.
Both of these associate's degree programs combine classroom lectures with hands-on practical experience, and applicants will need a high school diploma or GED for admission. Depending on their degree, students may also earn voluntary certification.
Associate's Degree in Welding Technology
Many technical and vocational schools offer programs in welding technology that prepare students for careers using this technology or for certification. Students in welding programs learn the various techniques, including gas and arc welding, that are used to fuse metal. Classes also cover how these techniques are applied in various areas, such as the boiler, piping, or construction industries. Courses might include:
- Blueprint reading
- Introduction to computer-aided design
- Shielded metal arc welding
- TIG and MIG welding
Find schools that offer these popular programs
Associate's Degree in HVAC Technology
An associate's degree program in heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) technology can also provide a solid foundation and supplemental skills for those interested in a boilermaker career. HVAC programs provide training in the installation and repair of heating and cooling systems and knowledge of concepts related to temperature control, air circulation, and piping practices. Programs typically combine classroom work with hands-on laboratory activities. Students learn to apply mathematic and scientific principles to HVAC installation and maintenance. Courses might include:
- Introduction to HVAC systems
- Blueprint reading
- Electrical circuits and controls
- Air and water distribution systems
- Boilers in HVAC systems
Certification and Continuing Education
The American Welding Society offers certification for the welding profession (www.aws.org). Certifications are offered at various levels and specialties; each has different application requirements and exams.
Graduates of welding or HVAC programs will still need to complete an apprenticeship to become boilermakers. Boilermaker apprenticeship programs are offered by local unions, employers, or in conjunction with trade and technical schools.
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers has local lodges throughout the U.S. offering apprenticeship programs ('www.boilermakers.org). The Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program also provides opportunities. Apprenticeship programs usually require four years of classroom study and on-the-job training combined.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Efforts to maintain and upgrade boilers and boiler systems are driving the demand for more trained boilermakers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), employment is expected to grow 9% between 2014 and 2024. The median salary for a boilermaker as of May 2015 was $60,120 annually.
There are two main associate's degree programs that could prove useful to aspiring boilermakers - an associate's degree in welding technology and an associate's degree in HVAC. Upon completion, graduates can enroll in an apprenticeship to complete the training necessary for boilermakers.