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What does a Boilermaker do?

Boilermakers are tradespeople who cut, shape, assemble and weld steel to construct and repair metal products and structures for boilers, ships, iron and steel structures and other vessels. They also test completed boilers and perform routine maintenance.

Boilermaking 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.


What qualifications do I need?

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 boilermaking techniques. To become a boilermaker, you will need to complete the NATED N1-N3 Boilermaker qualification from Levels N1-N3. This qualification meets the academic requirements for you to write your trade test once you have aquired the required practical hours. It consists of one compusory part (N1-N3 theory) and two optional practical parts, beginners level (done between N1-N3) and advanced (done after N3). This will give you the relevant theoretical background to become a boilermaker.

What subjects do I need?

Physical Science
Engineering Graphics and Design
Mechanical Technology


Where can I study?

Langeni City College
NATED N1-N3 Boilermaker 

South Cape TVET College
Boilermaking (N1 – N3)

False Bay College
Occupational Certificate: Boilermaker

Varsity Institute of Science and Technology
Boilermaking and Welding

Where can I get more info?

Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) - www.saiw.co.za/
Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) - www.saisc.co.za/


Interview with a Boilermaker

Wiseman Bolitye | BOILERMAKER | John Thompson, a division of ACTOM Pty Ltd

Wiseman Bolitye | BOILERMAKER | John Thompson, a division of ACTOM Pty Ltd


Why did you choose this profession? 
A man that I looked up to growing up was a boilermaker; that is where my love for the profession started. I was fascinated by turning raw steel materials into finished steel products.

What is boilermaking?
Boilermaking is still unknown in most communities. People often confuse it with welding, which is popular especially in townships. 

What training did you undergo and where?
I was 30 years old when I was selected to participate in a 4-year apprenticeship at John Thompson, a division of ACTOM (Pty) Ltd. I saw the advert for the apprenticeship in the local newspaper. 

Describe a typical day on the job
Upon arrival at work, a departmental briefing outlines the tasks for the day received from the drawing office. I then collect raw materials as per the job specification, which may require cutting, shaping, assembling, and welding the steel pieces. I then submit them to the QC department for quality assessment before handing them over for processing. 

What do you enjoy most about your work?
That there are job opportunities across various industries and sectors.  

What don’t you like?
The lack of flexibility and exploring new ways of doing things across the industry. 

What hurdles have you had to overcome?
It takes an apprenticeship to enter the industry, because of the required practical element, and there are very few of them offered by companies. I had to drop out of college due to financial constraints and battled to find employment in the steel fabrication industry. 

What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Receiving the Best 1st Year Apprentice certificate, Best 2nd Year Apprentice certificate, and Best Overall Performing Apprentice certificate.

What are your future goals?
Attending further training to upskill myself, so I can join the engineering drawing office.

In your line of work is experience as important as formal training?
Most certainly, the relevant work experience assisted me in obtaining the apprenticeship.

Is there a type of personality best suited to this work, or certain traits one should have (or not have)?
One needs to be decisive, hardworking and physically fit.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your career?
Start acquiring work hours in the relevant field of work. It all adds up.

Describe your job in three words
Challenging. Fascinating. Fulfilling.

Interview date: May 2022