How to Advance (Advancement)
Some boilermakers advance to supervisory positions. Because of their extensive training, those qualified through apprenticeships usually have an advantage in getting promoted over those who have not gone through the complete program.
Boilermakers held about 20,200 jobs in 2008. About 21 percent worked in the nonresidential building construction industry, assembling and erecting boilers and other vessels. Another 21 percent worked in manufacturing.
Employment is projected to grow faster than average. Favorable job opportunities are expected.
Employment of boilermakers is expected to grow by 19 percent between 2008 and 2018. Growth will be driven by the need to maintain and upgrade, rather than replace, the many existing boilers that are getting older, and by the need to meet the growing population's demand for electric power. While boilers historically have lasted over 50 years, the need to replace components, such as boiler tubes, heating elements, and ductwork, is an ongoing process that will continue to spur demand for boilermakers. To meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act, utility companies also will need to continue upgrading their boiler systems.
Federal policies are also encouraging the construction of more environmentally sound and higher efficiency clean-burning coal, wind, and solar power plants, which will spur demand for boilermakers.
Installation of new boilers and pressure vessels, air pollution equipment, water treatment plants, storage and process tanks, electric static precipitators, and stacks and liners, will further drive growth of boilermakers, although to a lesser extent than repairs will.
Job prospects should be favorable because the work of a boilermaker remains hazardous and physically demanding, leading some qualified applicants to seek other types of work. Job growth will generate some new openings, but an even greater number of openings will arise from the numerous boilermakers expected to retire.
People who have welding training or a welding certificate should have the best opportunities for being selected for boilermaker apprenticeship programs.
Many industries that purchase boilers are sensitive to economic conditions. Therefore, during economic downturns, boilermakers in the construction industry may be temporarily laid off. However, maintenance and repairs of boilers must continue even during economic downturns so boilermaker mechanics in manufacturing and other industries generally have more stable employment.
In May 2008, the median annual wage and salary of boilermakers was about $52,260. The middle 50 percent earned between $41,210 and $64,300. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,160. Apprentices generally start at about half of journey-level wages, with wages gradually increasing to the journey wage as workers gain skills.
Many boilermakers belong to labor unions, most to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. Other boilermakers are members of the International Association of Machinists, the United Automobile Workers, or the United Steelworkers of America.
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