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Boilermaker : Job Duties and Requirements for Becoming a Boilermaker

Find out what boilermakers do. See what career preparation to become a boilermaker entails. Get job prospects and earning potential for this career, and discover whether it’s the right job for you.

Definition for a Boilermaker

Boilermakers make and install boilers and other large containers that house gases or liquids such as oil. Job duties include reading blueprints, casting pieces and bending them into shape, and welding or bolting pieces together. Boilermakers also test completed boilers and perform routine maintenance. They often upgrade boilers to meet environmental standards and increase their efficiency. Boilermakers can work for refineries or construction or natural resource companies, or they can find careers as metal fabricators or power or water plant operators.

Required Education

Most prospective boilermakers have a high school diploma or recognised National Diploma and then enroll in an apprenticeship training program. This program takes approximately 4 – 5 years to complete and requires practical on the job training as well as classroom theoretical training and includes such disciplines as welding, drafting, rigging, and boiler technology. Alternately, some boilermakers take courses at a recognised technical school before learning additional skills directly from their employers.

Required Skills

Being a boilermaker is physically demanding and workers must have the necessary strength, coordination, and manual dexterity to complete the job. They also must possess various technical skills, such as the ability to weld, work with a variety of tools, and use rigging. Boilermakers must be prepared to travel to project sites and spend long spans of time away from home.

Salary Outlook for Boilermakers

Predictions are that boilermakers will enjoy faster-than-average job growth of 9% from 2014-2024. This increased demand will result from the need to upgrade boilers to meet new energy and environmental standards, rather than replacing them. The average rate for a Boilermaker is R80.39 per hour. The skills that increase pay for this job the most are Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding, Plant Maintenance, and Maintenance.

Basic Job Description of a Boilermaker

Construct, assemble, maintain, and repair stationary steam boilers and boiler house auxiliaries. Align structures or plate sections to assemble boiler frame tanks or vats, following blueprints. Work involves use of hand and power tools, plumb bobs, levels, wedges, dogs, or turnbuckles. Assist in testing assembled vessels. Direct cleaning of boilers and boiler furnaces. Inspect and repair boiler fittings, such as safety valves, regulators, automatic-control mechanisms, water columns, and auxiliary machines.

Typical Job Activities for a Boilermaker

1) Bell, bead with power hammers, or weld pressure vessel tube ends, in order to ensure leakproof joints.

2) Bolt or arc-weld pressure vessel structures and parts together, using wrenches and welding equipment.

3) Examine boilers, pressure vessels, tanks, and vats to locate defects such as leaks, weak spots, and defective sections so that they can be repaired.

4) Inspect assembled vessels and individual components, such as tubes, fittings, valves, controls, and auxiliary mechanisms, to locate any defects.

5) Install manholes, handholes, taps, tubes, valves, gauges, and feedwater connections in drums of water tube boilers, using hand tools.

6) Install refractory bricks and other heat-resistant materials in fireboxes of pressure vessels.

7) Lay out plate, sheet steel, or other heavy metal, and locate and mark bending and cutting lines, using protractors, compasses, and drawing instruments or templates.

8) Locate and mark reference points for columns or plates on boiler foundations, following blueprints and using straightedges, squares, transits, and measuring instruments.

9) Position, align, and secure structural parts and related assemblies to boiler frames, tanks, or vats of pressure vessels, following blueprints.

10) Repair or replace defective pressure vessel parts, such as safety valves and regulators, using torches, jacks, caulking hammers, power saws, threading dies, welding equipment, and metalworking machinery.

11) Shape seams, joints, and irregular edges of pressure vessel sections and structural parts in order to attain specified fit of parts, using cutting torches, hammers, files, and metalworking machines.

12) Straighten or reshape bent pressure vessel plates and structure parts, using hammers, jacks, and torches.

13) Study blueprints to determine locations, relationships, and dimensions of parts.

14) Assemble large vessels in an on-site fabrication shop prior to installation, in order to ensure proper fit.

15) Attach rigging, and signal crane or hoist operators to lift heavy frame and plate sections and other parts into place.

16) Clean pressure vessel equipment, using scrapers, wire brushes, and cleaning solvents.

17) Shape and fabricate parts, such as stacks, uptakes, and chutes, in order to adapt pressure vessels, heat exchangers, and piping to premises, using heavy-metalworking machines such as brakes, rolls, and drill presses.

Below are some useful links :

Salaries for Boilermakers in South Africa

TASA – Toolmaking Association of South Africa

SAQA – South African Qualifications Association

SAIW – Southern African Institution of Welding

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