Boilermakers build, erect, repair, test and maintain all types of boilers, tanks and pressure vessels, and perform all types of structural and plate work on dust, air, gas, steam, oil, water and other liquid-tight containers.
Boilermakers also erect and install boilers, sometimes working on scaffolds, and repair and maintain existing boilers and related metal products.
To fabricate and repair boilers, tanks, heat exchangers, fired heaters, reactors and other pressure vessels, boilermakers:
- develop a layout and plan the sequence of work to be done
- lay out plate, sheet steel or other heavy metal, and locate and mark bending and cutting lines
- shape the metal using metalworking machines such as shears and drill presses
- cut metal plate and brackets using an oxy-fuel torch, and chip and grind parts to shape for fitting together
- fit and tack weld parts together using electric arc welding equipment.
For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.
Boilermakers generally work in fabrication shops or on new or operating heavy industrial plants. Working conditions often include confined spaces, requiring safe worksite practices and procedures. The normal work week can range from 40 - 70 hours, with paid overtime.
Successful boilermakers tend to enjoy:
- working with tools, equipment and machinery
- doing very precise work expertly
- doing work that involves a degree of excitement and variety.
To be successful in their trade, boilermakers must have:
- the strength, stamina and use of proper lifting techniques required to work with heavy parts and equipment weighing in excess of 25 kilograms
- good coordination, mechanical aptitude and manual dexterity
- to be comfortable working in confined space and at considerable heights
- to be able to work with a crew in a team environment
- to be good at problem solving
- to have the flexibility to work varied shifts and travel.
Boilermakers are employed in the following industries: metal fabricating, construction, shipbuilding, rail transport, petroleum and coal products, electric power, iron and steel, and oil and gas. In the construction industry, they are primarily employed in the construction of industrial plants such as pulp mills, mine mills, generating plants, and oil and gas plants. Employment prospects in this occupation are affected by changes in economic conditions, and employment may be seasonal, particularly for those in the construction industry.
Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $30 to $46 an hour, plus benefits.
Boilermakers may advance to supervisory positions, quality control and qualiy assurance, inspections and training.
To work as a boilermaker in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.
Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.
The term of apprenticeship for a boilermaker is 3 years (three 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1500 hours of on-the-job training each year and three 8-week blocks of technical training.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the boilermaker trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprentice representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
- A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application. For more information, see the online Prior Learning Assessment Guide.
- A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).
To learn the skills required of a boilermaker in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:
- satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
- find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.
- complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
- pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process
- complete the required on-the-job training
- during on-the-job training, apprentice boilermakers earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 75 percent in the second, and 90 percent in the third year.
- complete all program requirements as identified in the course outline
- enroll in technical training
- select an educational institution that offers training for Boilermaker apprentices, and a time to attend training
- determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrolment form to the selected institution
- review books and materials required for training
- successfully complete all required exams
Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.
When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.
Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.
A boilermaker who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.
For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.
Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.
A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.
However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.
More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.