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Boiler Operator Duties and Responsibilities

Any business that has a boiler system hires boiler operators to keep the system and all related equipment functioning. No matter the employer or how extensive the boiler system may be, the basic daily duties for boiler operators are the same and include the following:

Monitor and Maintain Boilers Boiler operators perform frequent inspection checks and regular maintenance on boiler systems and related valves, gauges, piping, and other equipment.

Inspect Fluids Boiler operators constantly inspect water, gas, and other fluid levels inside boilers and related equipment, making adjustments to fluids as necessary to keep systems operating at peak levels.

Repair Boiler Machinery Boiler operators repair piping, valves, and other boiler machinery as needed.

Replace Boiler Parts Boiler operators replace defective valves, gauges, and other boiler parts as needed.

Record Daily Readings Boiler operators record daily gas readings, feed water tests, and other test results.

Adjust Equipment Boiler operators adjust valves and boiler controls as needed to control the amount of pressure in the system and keep the boiler system functioning safely.

Maintain Cleanliness Boiler operators keep all boiler rooms, related facilities, and work areas clean and organized at all times.

Read Blueprints Boiler operators read and follow blueprints, operations manuals, and instructions to perform scheduled maintenance and make repairs to boiler systems.


Boiler Operator Skills and Qualifications

Boiler operators are professional and hands-on technicians with a high degree of mechanical aptitude who work in physically demanding environments. Employers require boiler operators to display these required job skills:
  • Physical stamina - boiler operators are physically able to work in the most extreme conditions, including hot, cold, wet, and steamy environments, and are able to lift up to 75 pounds at a time
  • Mental strength - boiler operators sometimes perform work at extreme heights and in tight, confined spaces, which requires them to stay composed and focused even in the most uncomfortable, frightening locations
  • Math skills - boiler operators check readings and work with numbers regularly; they can immediately recall measurements and formulas to determine when parts of the boiler system are experiencing too much strain, which requires a good grasp of mathematics and the ability to make quick calculations
  • Problem-solving skills - boiler operators make quick decisions to solve potential and existing problems, which requires decisive problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills - because boiler operators frequently speak with other boiler workers and provide detailed updates to their immediate supervisors, people in this career have good verbal communication skills

Boiler Operator Education and Training

Boiler operators must have a high school diploma or GED to pursue this career. Employers are more likely to hire boiler operators who have previous experience either directly working with boilers or otherwise working in a boiler room environment. Some employers require formal boiler operation certification. There are several boiler certification options available, which require applicants to pay a fee and pass an exam. Boiler operators with little to no prior experience receive extensive paid job training. Boiler operators in training work directly for an experienced boiler operator or a training supervisor while the training period lasts, the length of which varies by company.

Boiler Operator Salary and Outlook

Job data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that stationary engineers and boiler operators earn a median annual income of $59,400. Jobs are projected to rise 5 percent by 2026, which is the current national average job growth. Boiler operators receive complete benefits packages that include health insurance with vision and dental coverage. Life insurance, worker's compensation, and retirement benefits also come standard. In addition to other benefits, boiler operators receive paid vacation and sick days.

Helpful Resources

Find job opportunities and learn strategies for being a successful boiler operator using these books and websites:

National Association of Stationary Operating Engineers - boiler operators and stationary operating engineers of all kinds will find licensing and accreditation information at NASOE, as well as articles containing useful information about tools and equipment used on the job

Stationary Engineer & Boiler Operator Career: The Insider's Guide to Finding a Job at an Amazing Firm, Acing the Interview & Getting Promoted - this book uses straightforward language to teach boiler operators how to get and keep a job and advance to the next level of their career

National Association of Power Engineers - you'll find resources for boiler operators and other types of engineers at NAPE. This website also provides online courses, employment opportunities, and a calendar of upcoming events

Boiler Operator's Guide - read up on guidelines for installing, operating, and maintaining boilers in this book, which also contains information about boiler codes and boiler construction

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