Bookmark and Share Scholarships

Stationary Engineers and Boiler Operators - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
Generally, engineers advance as they obtain higher class licenses. These licenses permit boiler operators to work with larger, more powerful, or more varied equipment. In jurisdictions where licenses are not required, workers generally advance by taking company-administered exams. Some stationary engineers and boiler operators advance to become boiler inspectors, chief plant engineers, building and plant superintendents, or building managers. A few obtain jobs as examining engineers or technical instructors.

Because most stationary engineering staffs are relatively small, workers may find it difficult to advance, especially within a company. Most high-level positions are held by experienced workers with seniority. Workers wishing to move up to these positions must often change employers or wait for older workers to retire before they can advance.

Stationary engineers and boiler operators held about 41,600 jobs in 2008. They worked throughout the country, generally in the more heavily populated areas in which large industrial and commercial establishments are located. Jobs were dispersed throughout a variety of industries. The majority of jobs were in manufacturing, Government, public and private educational services, and public and private hospitals.

Job Outlook
Employment in this occupation is expected to grow more slowly than average through 2018. Applicants may face competition for jobs. Employment opportunities will be best for those who have apprenticeship training and are licensed in their jurisdictions.

Job Growth
Employment of stationary engineers and boiler operators is expected to grow by 5 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Continuing commercial and industrial development will increase the amount of equipment to be operated and maintained. Although automated systems and computerized controls are making newly installed equipment more efficient, experienced workers will increasingly be needed to maintain and repair these complex systems.

While employment of stationary engineers and boiler operators is spread across all industries, some industries will experience more growth than others. The largest employment growth will occur in industries with the need for precise temperature control, such as hospitals.

People interested in working as stationary engineers and boiler operators should expect to face competition for these relatively high-paying positions. Although many opportunities will be created by the retirement of the baby-boomer generation, finding an entry-level job can be difficult—especially for inexperienced and unlicensed workers. While there are workers employed in most establishments with large buildings, the typical engineering staff is relatively small. The tendency of experienced workers to stay in a job for decades can make it difficult for entry-level workers to find a job.

Workers who have completed a training course or apprenticeship will have the best prospects. Additionally, in States and jurisdictions where licenses are required, workers who are licensed prior to beginning employment will have better opportunities.

Median annual wages of stationary engineers and boiler operators were $49,790 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $39,390 and $61,670. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,500.

Back to Page 1

Academic Programs of Interest

Heavy Equipment Operator
The Heavy Equipment Operator Program teaches students how to operate heavy machinery such as heavy articulating rock trucks, loaders, excavators, backhoes, dozers and graders. These machines are used universally for all manner of heavy construction, earth moving, road building, mining, forestry, mega ...more