Boilermakers held about 17,400 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most boilermakers were as follows:
Building equipment contractors
Utility system construction
Fabricated metal product manufacturing
Boilermakers perform physically demanding and dangerous work. They often work outdoors in all types of weather, including extreme heat and cold.
Because dams, boilers, storage tanks, and pressure vessels are large, boilermakers frequently work at great heights. When working on a dam, for example, they may be hundreds of feet above the ground.
Boilermakers also work in cramped quarters inside boilers, vats, or tanks that are often dark, damp, noisy, and poorly ventilated.
Injuries and Illnesses
Although boilermakers often use dangerous equipment, they have lower rates of injuries and illnesses than many other construction occupations. Still, common injuries include burns from acetylene torches, cuts from power grinders, muscle strains from lifting heavy parts and tools, and bruises or broken bones from falling off ladders or large vessels.
To reduce the chance of injuries, boilermakers often wear hardhats, harnesses, protective clothing, earplugs, and safety glasses. In addition, when working inside enclosed spaces, boilermakers frequently wear a respirator.
Nearly all boilermakers work full time and may experience extended periods of overtime when equipment is shut down for maintenance. Overtime work also may be necessary to meet construction or production deadlines, especially during the spring and fall seasons, when many power plants receive routine maintenance. In contrast, because most field construction and repair work is contract work, there may be periods of unemployment when a contract is complete. There may be periods of unemployment during the winter and summer, when major maintenance is complete.
Many boilermakers must travel to worksites and live away from home for long periods.