Boilermakers manufacture and build structures of steel, plate and piping ranging from boilers for steam engines and pressure vessels for power stations and petrochemical plants, to mine head-gear, bridges and oil-drilling platforms.

Prior to the construction of a new boiler, all the materials must first be prepared before the actual work of assembly and construction can begin. Drawings are made in separate sections and many calculations are made in this process. Blueprints are studies to determine the locations, relationships or dimensions of the parts. Reference poins for columns or plates on boiler foundations are located and marked, following the blueprints and using straightedges, squares, transits or measuring instruments.

Plates, sheet steel or other heavy metal is laid out so that the bending and cutting lines can be located and marked, using protractors, compasses and drawing instruments or templates.  They are then bent into the required shape, manually using hand tools or mechanically by using bending brakes, rolling machines and heating procedures. The various parts are then assembled and prepared for welding. They shape seams, joints or irregular edges of pressure vessel sections or structural parts to attain the specified fit of parts, using cutting torches, hammers, files or metal-working machines.

Boilermakers are also responsible for cleaning and inspecting boilers to ensure that they work effectively. Because boilers have to last a very long time, a lot of work is devoted to maintaining and repairing them. Boilers, pressure vessels, tanks or vats are examined to locate any defects, such as leaks, weak spots or defective sections, so that they can be repaired. Defective pressure vessel parts, such as safety valves or regulators, are repaired or replaced using torches, jacks, caulking hammers, power saws, threading dies, welding equipment or metal-working machinery. They straighten or reshape bent pressure vessel plates or structure parts, using hammers, jacks or torches.  They install manholes, handholes, taps, tubes, valves, guages or feedwater connecitons in drums of the water tuve voilers, using hand tools.

Boilermakers work in industrial plants near boilers, vats, tanks and other vessels. They may also work at the construction site of these vessels. Boilermakers work indoors in workshops or factories, and outdoors on construction sites. Work settings may be hot, noisy, poorly ventilated or damp. Often they must work in cramped quarters inside boilers. The work can be dangerous, at considerable heights and/or around heavy, dangerous equipment.


  • engineering factories

  • construction companies

  • iron and steel plants

  • petroleum refineries

  • railways and shipyards

  • government departments

  • electrical and atomic power plants

  • such organisations as: Sasol and Mittal Steel

  • mines

  • self-employment, with the necessary experience and capital to start own business

Getting Started

  • find vacation work in a boiler-making company

  • make an appointment to speak to a boilermaker about this type of career


Coastal KZN TVET College, College of Cape Town , Eastcape Midlands TVET College, Ekurhuleni West TVET College, Lovedale Public TVET College, Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT), Rundu Vocational Training Centre, Tshwane North TVET College, Valombola Vocational Training Centre (VVTC), Vuselela TVET College, Windhoek Vocational Training Centre, Zambezi Vocational Training Centre

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