How to Become a Boilermaker in South Africa: Qualifications, Jobs and Salary

Boilermakers are field operators that build, install and repair boilers and large tanks. Their responsibilities also include designing and fabrication of boiler components, as well as ensuring their long-term maintenance.

A boilermaker requires a solid set of skills and qualifications that are the result of mandatory boilermaker courses and apprenticeship. These periods of learning and training provide future artisans with essential knowledge of welding and boiler making techniques.

Boilermaker jobs in South Africa pay a reliable salary. This specialization comes with fringe benefits and good prospects for qualified labourers. Furthermore, they can apply for boiler making positions in a wide variety of sectors that include factories, petroleum refineries, shipyards and mines among many others.

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What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Boilermaker?

Boilermakers enjoy widespread appreciation in South Africa, mainly due to their versatility and ability to work in numerous locations. These professionals must prove exceptional manufacturing skills, troubleshooting abilities and electrical engineering knowledge.

To work as a boilermaker, one must have a Matric Grade 9 certificate confirming the completion of the studies period. Some employers may require higher certifications. Registered operators in this field have to gain their skills and knowledge from short courses and training before they are eligible to earn an entry-level salary.

The job of a Boilermaker in South Africa is part of the MerSETA (Manufacturing Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority) environment. 

To be able to apply for this position, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • NQF Level 1 with Mathematics and Science
  • Have 4 years of apprenticeship
  • Possess excellent knowledge of welding, electrical equipment, and liquid pressure systems
  • Have a national certificate that shows you have completed boilermaker courses

Besides these mandatory qualifications, a boilermaker must also prove the following traits:

  • Be physically fit for heavy work
  • Be willing and able to work in confined spaces or even high aerial settings
  • Enjoy working with their hands
  • Possess a thorough knowledge of boiler making and boiler components
  • Have insight into electrical engineering
  • Have excellent mechanical aptitude
  • Able to work in noisy environments
  • Be willing to work in high heat conditions
  • Have good eyesight and dexterity
  • Work carefully and with extreme accuracy

According to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), having a boiler making job also implies these requirements:

  • An in-depth understanding of health and safety compliance rules
  • Basic knowledge of hand and power tools
  • A good grasp of welding equipment
  • The ability to work well with others
  • A great set of communication skills
  • A good draughting ability

What is a Boilermaker’s Job?

Expert boilermakers have a broad range of mechanical, electrical and engineering abilities, which they gain from study and hands-on experience. 

Boilermaking technicians use their knowledge and skills to produce high-quality structures of steel, plate or piping. They can put together boilers, tanks, vats, as well as steam engines and pressure vessels.

A professional boilermaker must know how to install, repair and maintain such structures in a variety of locations that range from industrial plants to hospitals and schools.

Boiler making comes with a few occupational hazards and dangers. Such professionals often have to work in noisy, hot or poorly ventilated environments. They have to control and inspect parts of liquid pressure and high gaseous pressure systems. The risk of injury in this vocation is high if the artisan does not possess excellent skills in safety and first aid, fire-fighting and preventative security measures.

A Boilermaker’s main duties include:

  • Studying blueprints and understanding their specifications
  • Operating boiler making equipment and machinery
  • Inspecting the condition of structures and materials involved in the building process
  • Working with ignition tools and power supplies
  • Cutting and welding materials
  • Erecting and assembling steel, plate and pipe components, and structures
  • Using cutting torches or guillotines
  • Using hand tools of various types
  • Cleaning and inspecting boilers to ensure their permanent well-functioning
  • Repairing or replacing faulty pieces
  • Ensuring the maintenance of boiler installations through a variety of pressure tests

After finishing boilermaker courses and four years as an apprentice, one can begin a career as a boiler making operator in sectors like:

  • Construction industry
  • Industrial plants
  • Power plants and refineries
  • Metal-related  industries
  • Electrical and atomic power plants
  • Heavy engineering industry
  • Mines
  • Government departments
  • Public facilities like schools and hospitals

How Much Does a Boilermaker Earn in a Year?

A proper set of boiler making skills and the obligatory boilermaker studies can help a professional in the field to earn a high salary in South Africa.

At the moment, the average hourly pay for Boilermakers is R91.42.
Depending on your level of abilities and experience, you can earn between R44 and R150 per hour in addition to which you may also receive a bonus ranging between R3,000 and R38,242 calculated for an entire year.

As a student or apprentice, you may earn only the minimum rate at first.
However, in time, you can earn an average of R270, 538 per year. The most that you can make within 12 months of working as a Boilermaker in South Africa is R365k, which is well above average wage.

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How to Work as a Boilermaker in South Africa

South Africa has a wide market for Boilermaker jobs. There is substantial demand for such professionals in several industries and sectors with more than 600 listings currently available.
Candidates that meet the mandatory qualifications and expert skills have several directories available where they can apply for this specialization.

Boilermaker courses give you an in-depth understanding of what this vocation requires.
They help you acquire skills and experience that are impossible to obtain through other learning methods.
By having a certificate that proves you had training in the field, you have an immediate advantage over other candidates for the same job. 

Working as a boilermaker in South Africa gives you the freedom to pick a field of work from numerous industries and job sites.
Additionally, with enough experience and knowledge, you can start your boiler making business and practise the trade on a private basis.