What they do
Boiler or engine operators operate and maintain stationary boilers and engines, and associated mechanical plant equipment. They maintain boilers that are used to supply heat or steam for power that operates machines. They may light the fuel used in the boiler and control the flow of fuel and water into the boiler. They monitor the control panel and regulate temperature, pressure, draft and other operational parameters. They also observe the boiler and secondary units to check for any faults, and perform minor repairs as well as required maintenance. They may also need to treat the water used in the boiler with special chemicals.
Boiler operators may work in an environment that is hot, noisy and dusty. They must be safety-conscious and will usually have to wear protective clothing and equipment. Depending on where they work, they may be required to stand all day or work in confined spaces or at heights.
They tend to work regular hours but this could involve shift work. Boiler operators can find employment throughout the State. If employed by a mining company, in the Pilbara for instance, they may work on a Fly In/Fly Out basis.
Tools and technologies
Boiler operators need to be proficient with the equipment they are controlling, which will vary from job to job.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a boiler or engine operator you usually need to gain a qualification to operate a boiler.
The Operate and Monitor Intermediate Class Boiler, Licence to Operate an Advanced Boiler, and Licence to Operate a Steam Turbine short course qualifications are available at registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.
You may improve your job prospects if you complete a qualification in process plant operations or process plant technology. The Certificate III in Process Plant Operations and Certificate IV in Process Plant Technology are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.
Boiler or engine operators in the maritime industry usually need to gain a qualification in maritime operations. The Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 3 Near Coastal) and Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Marine Engine Driver Grade 2 Near Coastal) are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.
You can also undertake a traineeship in maritime operations - marine engine driving (level 2 or level 3), process plant operations (level 3) or process plant technology (level 4). The traineeships usually take between 6 and 24 months, and are available as school-based traineeships
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing
To work as a boiler or engine operator in Western Australia you must obtain a High Risk Work License from WorkSafe in the appropriate boiler and other pressure equipment class for the type of work you wish to undertake.
Boiler or engine operators in the maritime industry will also need to obtain a Marine Engine Driver Grade 3 Near Coastal or Marine Engine Driver Grade 2 Near Coastal Certificate of Competency from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.