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Career profile Boiler Operator

Also known as Boiler Operator, Boiler Technician, Building Engineer, Operating Engineer, Plant Operator, Plant Utilities Engineer, Stationary Engineer, Stationary Steam Engineer, Utilities Operator

Boiler Operator

Also known as Boiler Operator, Boiler Technician, Building Engineer

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$40,680 - $103,580 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Critical Thinking
  • Operation and Control
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Production and Processing
  • Education and Training
Core tasks
  • Activate valves to maintain required amounts of water in boilers, to adjust supplies of combustion air, and to control the flow of fuel into burners.
  • Monitor and inspect equipment, computer terminals, switches, valves, gauges, alarms, safety devices, and meters to detect leaks or malfunctions and to ensure that equipment is operating efficiently and safely.
  • Monitor boiler water, chemical, and fuel levels, and make adjustments to maintain required levels.
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What does a Boiler Operator do?

Boiler Operators operate or maintain stationary engines, boilers, or other mechanical equipment to provide utilities for buildings or industrial processes.

In addition, Boiler Operators operate equipment such as steam engines, generators, motors, turbines, and steam boilers.

What kind of tasks does a Boiler Operator perform regularly?

Boiler Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Activate valves to maintain required amounts of water in boilers, to adjust supplies of combustion air, and to control the flow of fuel into burners.
  • Monitor and inspect equipment, computer terminals, switches, valves, gauges, alarms, safety devices, and meters to detect leaks or malfunctions and to ensure that equipment is operating efficiently and safely.
  • Monitor boiler water, chemical, and fuel levels, and make adjustments to maintain required levels.
  • Observe and interpret readings on gauges, meters, and charts registering various aspects of boiler operation to ensure that boilers are operating properly.
  • Test boiler water quality or arrange for testing and take necessary corrective action, such as adding chemicals to prevent corrosion and harmful deposits.
  • Analyze problems and take appropriate action to ensure continuous and reliable operation of equipment and systems.
  • Operate or tend stationary engines, boilers, and auxiliary equipment, such as pumps, compressors, or air-conditioning equipment, to supply and maintain steam or heat for buildings, marine vessels, or pneumatic tools.
  • Adjust controls and/or valves on equipment to provide power, and to regulate and set operations of system or industrial processes.
  • Switch from automatic to manual controls and isolate equipment mechanically and electrically to allow for safe inspection and repair work.
  • Maintain daily logs of operation, maintenance, and safety activities, including test results, instrument readings, and details of equipment malfunctions and maintenance work.
  • Develop operation, safety, and maintenance procedures or assist in their development.
  • Investigate and report on accidents.
  • Install burners and auxiliary equipment, using hand tools.
  • Perform or arrange for repairs, such as complete overhauls, replacement of defective valves, gaskets, or bearings, or fabrication of new parts.
  • Check the air quality of ventilation systems and make adjustments to ensure compliance with mandated safety codes.
  • Weigh, measure, and record fuel used.
  • Clean and lubricate boilers and auxiliary equipment and make minor adjustments as needed, using hand tools.
  • Contact equipment manufacturers or appropriate specialists when necessary to resolve equipment problems.

The above responsibilities are specific to Boiler Operators. More generally, Boiler Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

What is a Boiler Operator salary?

The median salary for a Boiler Operator is $64,680, and the average salary is $68,170. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Boiler Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Boiler Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Boiler Operators earn less than $40,680 per year, 25% earn less than $52,650, 75% earn less than $81,390, and 90% earn less than $103,580.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Boiler Operators is expected to change by 5.9%, and there should be roughly 4,000 open positions for Boiler Operators every year.

Median annual salary
$64,680
Typical salary range
$40,680 - $103,580
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
5.9%

What personality traits are common among Boiler Operators?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Boiler Operator are usually higher in their Realistic, Investigative, and Conventional interests.

Boiler Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Boiler Operators typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Lastly, Boiler Operators typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Boiler Operator tend to value Support, Relationships, and Independence.

Most importantly, Boiler Operators strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Boiler Operators moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Boiler Operators moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Boiler Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, attention to detail, and initiative.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Boiler Operators, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.

What education and training do Boiler Operators need?

Boiler Operators often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Boiler Operators usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Boiler Operators

  • 6.7% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 34.7% completed high school or secondary school
  • 26.0% completed some college coursework
  • 10.6% earned a Associate's degree
  • 15.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 5.6% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.1% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Boiler Operators

Boiler Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, production and processing, or education and training knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Boiler Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

Important Abilities needed by Boiler Operators

Boiler Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Boiler Operators need abilities such as oral expression, oral comprehension, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Boiler Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.

Critical Skills needed by Boiler Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Boiler Operators frequently use skills like operations monitoring, critical thinking, and operation and control to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Boiler Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Quality Control Analysis
Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.