Boilermaker vs Welder (with Definitions and Job Search Tips)
Boilermaking and welding are both fabrication trades that involve creating and repairing metal structures and products. While they share some similarities, these two professions can differ in significant ways. Learning about the key differences between a boilermaker vs welder can help you decide which profession is right for you.
In this article, we describe some major similarities and differences between a boilermaker and a welder, list some factors to help you choose which profession is better suited for you and provide several job search tips.
Boilermaker vs welder
Here are some of the major similarities and differences between a boilermaker vs welder:
A boilermaker is a tradesperson with expert knowledge of metal fabrications. They use this knowledge to create, shape and repair boilers, tanks and various steel structures for clients.
Boilermakers typically use a range of equipment in their daily operations, such as welding tools, torches, hand tools and fabrication machinery. Additionally, they can work as full-time employees or contractors for shipbuilding companies, chemical plants and railway companies.
Welders are skilled tradespeople who use welding equipment and heavy machinery that emits heat to bind metal together for manufacturing and repairing purposes. They typically work in the automotive, construction and manufacturing industries and have expert knowledge of how to create welds with different metals.
Although the work of a welder, like a boilermaker, can involve shaping and repairing metal structures, welders only perform welding-related duties. By contrast, a boilermaker often performs other, more specialised tasks, such as testing boiler systems and reading technical blueprints.
Key responsibilities of a boilermaker:
installing and assembling boilers
reviewing designs and following regulations and guidelines
assembling pre-fabricated structures
cleaning machinery, tools and equipment
maintaining a clean and organised worksite
repairing and maintaining gas and liquid tanks
attaching support beams and replacing metal structures.
Key responsibilities of a welder:
welding small and large metal components and structures
interpreting construction plans to determine which equipment and materials to use
maintaining and repairing welding tools and equipment
repairing metal structures
assessing welded structures to ensure they meet safety requirements
travelling to different job sites to perform welding duties.
Employers of boilermakers typically require job candidates to have completed a boilermaker apprenticeship, resulting in a Certificate III in Engineering and Fabrication. Employers may prefer someone who's undertaken this training because a boilermaker's role can involve having the skills and knowledge to interpret technical drawings, perform advanced welding and use current safety practices. Boilermakers also fabricate tanks to store hazardous liquids, which can require more advanced training than a welder.
Although training for welders also involves an apprenticeship in heavy fabrication, some employers may not require job candidates to have completed an apprenticeship. For example, completing a basic welding certificate might suffice to gain an entry-level position with a factory or warehouse employer.
Boilermakers and welders can work in similar work environments. For example, they can both perform duties in construction environments, weld in confined spaces or on raised platforms and work in fast-paced settings to meet deadlines.
They also use similar protective equipment, such as welding helmets, aprons and gloves, to shield themselves from radiation and heat exposure and other hazardous substances and materials, like gases and metal debris.
Boilermakers and welders use a variety of similar skills when performing their daily duties. For example, they both may apply their verbal communication and active listening abilities when completing tasks with teams or meeting with clients to discuss a job and follow detailed instructions.
Boilermakers and welders also perform similar tasks which require them to have excellent physical strength and endurance. For instance, both roles can involve operating heavy welding equipment, carrying tools and machinery to different locations on a job site and working on their feet for long hours.
Although they share various skills, each of these professions can involve skills unique to their trade. For example, boilermakers and welders are both capable of welding, but some welders may have specialised knowledge of arc welding and an advanced ability to identify changes in molten metal flows.
While both professions can have strong mechanical skills, boilermakers may have specific knowledge that welders don't require, such as an ability to connect pipes when fitting boilers.
Choosing a career
If becoming a boilermaker or a welder interests you, here are some factors to consider when choosing which profession to pursue:
Reflecting on some of your major preferences can help you decide between a boilermaker and a welder role. For example, you might be someone with an engineering mindset who enjoys fixing problems and building large objects from scratch. If this describes your personality, you may prefer a career as a boilermaker. This is because, in this role, you get to use your critical thinking and problem-solving skills to follow detailed instructions, assemble boiler parts and build pressure vessels.
Perhaps you're someone with an aptitude for maths and design and you enjoy working with metal and using hand and power tools. If this aligns with your personality, you might find professional satisfaction in pursuing a career in welding.
Welding is also a great career choice if you're someone who desires to travel. This is because many countries use similar welding processes, which means, with welding qualifications and skills, you can work almost anywhere in the world.
When deciding between a career as a boilermaker or a welder, it can also benefit you to consider your professional and financial goals. For example, maybe you want to be self-employed and start your own business. Because there are many industries that require welding, pursuing a career as a welder could provide you with more opportunities than boilermaking to start a business.
Perhaps you aspire to have a family and own a home. If this aligns closer with your goals, you may prefer a career in boilermaking. Boilermakers can earn a higher salary than welders, especially those who work in the mining industry. For this reason, a career as a boilermaker could offer you a satisfying salary that helps you achieve your personal goals.
Related: How to Set Career Goals
Tips for pursuing a career as a boilermaker
Here are two tips you may consider if you're interested in pursuing a career as a boilermaker:
Complete an apprenticeship
Completing an apprenticeship in boilermaking is typically the best pathway to becoming a boilermaker. An apprenticeship offers substantial on-the-job training, providing you with the skills and knowledge to help prepare you for a career in boilermaking. Boilermaking apprenticeships are often available in many states and territories and usually take between three and five years to complete.
Related: What Is an Apprenticeship?
Update your resume
During your apprenticeship, it can benefit you to update your resume regularly so prospective employers can identify your level of experience and skills as a boilermaker. This can include listing the number of boilers you've repaired and installed, the skills you've developed and relevant hand and power tools you've gained proficiency using. Having a well-written and updated resume can show hiring employers you're a competent boilermaker, which may encourage them to hire you.
Tips for pursuing a career as a welder
Here are several tips you may find helpful if pursuing a career as a welder interests you:
Gain relevant certifications
Welding is a trade that requires specialised knowledge and skills, so it can benefit you to gain certifications in welding. Although employers may not require you to have undertaken an apprenticeship, completing a welding apprenticeship can increase your employability.
If undertaking an apprenticeship is not something that interests you, consider enrolling in a welding certificate program for beginners. These are available at many vocational schools in Australia and can take between six months to one year to complete. These courses can provide you with basic skills, which can help you secure an entry-level welding position.
Build your welding skills
Having a range of strong welding skills can make you a desirable job candidate and attract hiring employers. Some excellent technical skills to develop can include knowledge of arc welding, hand and power tools, safety equipment and mathematical and mechanical abilities. It can also benefit you to have excellent soft skills, such as communication, time management, multitasking and physical fitness.
Enrolling in welding courses can help you build these skills. Another helpful option is to review welding tutorials on social media websites. These are often easily accessible and can provide you with comprehensive instructions on how to handle various tools and equipment and repair different types of metal products.
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