A boiler operator is involved in the climate control machinery and systems of a large building (or set of buildings), typically a hospital, school, jail, factory, or manufacturing plant. The boiler operator ensures that the boilers - who typically control heating and cooling throughout the facility - are working at optimal settings and peak efficiency. These operators often work in control rooms with computer screens which display readouts of the boiler's and system's performance. However, the day-to-day work may change if the system breaks down and requires repair or maintenance.
The boiler is often the central creation machinery for heating in these institutional buildings by generating heat and energy using gas or electricity, though older buildings may still use coal-burning boilers. These operators monitor the boiler's performance, observe its internal temperatures, and read gauges that may indicate leaks of carbon monoxide. They also perform routine inspections on the boiler and duct systems to ensure they are working safely and efficiently at all times.
When problems arise, the boiler operator's job may change. He/she will often need to wear protective gear along with a helmet and eye protection to perform repairs to the boiler and other systems. These repairs are usually performed under time-constraints, as most institutions which require a boiler operator will need functioning climate controls at all times. In this case the operator will shut down a small section of the system and take care of the repair. He/she is also in charge of ordering necessary parts and acquiring any required outside labor to complete the job.
Applicants for this job should have a high school diploma or equivalent, and a community college or tech school degree specializing in boilers and boiler systems maintenance and repair is often required. Junior boiler operatives may work under senior supervisors at larger institutions such as college campuses, and this is the type of practical experience that is preferred by most employers. Typically, boiler operators are on-duty at all times, so those in this position should expect to work days, nights, or weekends depending on their shifts.
Boiler Operator Tasks
Operate boilers, including reading instruments and gauges to identify problems.
Maintain logs of activities, tolerances, outputs, and maintenance.
Complete all preventative and routine maintenance on boilers and related equipment.
Adjust controls to keep boilers within safety and tolerance limits.