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Boilermaker vs. Welder: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Boilermakers and welders are both skilled tradespeople who work with metal. If you’re interested in a career in this field, it’s important to understand the similarities and differences between these two positions. In this article, we discuss the duties of boilermakers and welders, the necessary skills and qualifications for each job and the average salary you can expect to earn.

What is a Boilermaker?

Boilermakers are a type of skilled tradesman who fabricates, installs, and maintains boilers, tanks, and closed vats. They use a variety of tools, including torches, welding equipment, and hand tools. Boilermakers often work in power plants, refineries, and factories. They may also work in shipyards, breweries, and dairies. Boilermakers typically complete an apprenticeship program before becoming journeymen.

What is a Welder?

Welders join two pieces of metal together by using heat to melt the metal and create a strong bond. They use a variety of tools and techniques to create a weld that is both strong and aesthetically pleasing. Welders must have a strong understanding of how different metals react to heat and how to create a weld that will not break under stress. They often work in manufacturing or construction and may be required to wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, goggles and protective clothing, to prevent injuries.

Boilermaker vs. Welder

Here are the main differences between a boilermaker and a welder.

Job Duties

Boilermakers perform a variety of tasks, such as reading blueprints, using measuring tools and performing physical labor. They also use specialized tools to fabricate pipes and assemble boilers. In contrast, welders typically only perform tasks related to welding. Depending on their job duties, they may also read blueprints, measure distances and operate machinery.

The daily responsibilities of a boilermaker can be more varied than those of a welder. For example, a boilermaker might install pipes, connect electrical components and test the completed system before handing it over to an operator. Conversely, welders typically only perform tasks related to welding. However, some employers give them additional responsibilities, such as maintaining or repairing welding equipment.

Job Requirements

Boilermakers typically need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some employers may prefer candidates who have completed an apprenticeship or have some college experience. Boilermaker apprenticeships typically last four years and include 144 hours of classroom instruction and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. During their apprenticeship, boilermakers learn how to read blueprints, use tools and weld safely.

Welders also need a high school diploma or equivalent, although they might be able to find entry-level positions with only a certificate from a welding program. Some welders pursue an apprenticeship, which can last up to four years. During their apprenticeship, welders learn safety procedures, blueprint reading and welding techniques. Many welders also become certified through the American Welding Society (AWS).

Work Environment

Boilermakers work in a variety of environments, including construction sites and manufacturing facilities. They may also work on ships or trains. Boilermakers often wear protective clothing to shield them from the heat and sparks that welding creates.

Welders can work in similar environments as boilermakers, but they may also work in other settings such as automotive repair shops, shipyards and aircraft maintenance facilities. Welders typically wear protective gear when working with heavy metals and toxic materials.


Both boilermakers and welders use physical strength, manual dexterity, problem-solving skills and mathematical skills on the job. However, boilermakers often need to have more specialized skills because they work with large metal containers that hold liquids or gases under high pressure, such as boilers, tanks and vats. They use these skills to install, repair and maintain these containers.

Welders also work with metals, but they typically join two pieces of metal together using heat and pressure. There are many different types of welding, so welders may need to have specific skills depending on the type of welding they are doing. For example, some welders specialize in arc welding, which uses an electric current to create heat that melts the metal and joins the two pieces together. Other welders may specialize in gas welding, which uses a flame to melt the metal.


Boilermakers earn an average salary of $59,606 per year, while welders earn an average salary of $51,025 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the type of work you do, your location and your experience level.


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