To get into the hot, machine-heavy career of boiler operations requires a period of post-high school study in an apprenticeship, trade school or program resulting, in most cases, in official licensing to enter the field. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment survey on boiler operators did not report on the effects of licensing on salaries, almost all states require boiler operators to obtain licensing. Boiler operators will find their salaries affected by where they live and the potential for "boiling over" by their choice of industry of employment.
Boiler operators numbered approximately 35,800 technicians as of May 2010, with mid-range salaries of $52,140, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the BLS occupational and wage report for that time period, the 90th percentile for boiler operator wages was $73,580, while boiler operators at the 10th percentile received $32,640 in annual wages.
General medical and surgical hospitals employed the most boiler operators of any industry in the BLS report, paying just over the mid-range rate, at $53,720. The next-largest employer of these technicians, colleges and universities, paid a below-average rate for their workers, at $49,050. Boiler operators employed by the Postal Service earned the highest salaries, at $72,220, but these jobs were few and far between — 60 compared with the 5,200 employed in hospitals. Local and state government were also large employers of boiler operators and each paid above-average wages of $57,390 and $53,770, respectively.
High State Salaries
Illinois topped the BLS list for highest boiler operator salaries, at $66,260. Boiler operators in New York also received significantly higher-than-average wages, at $62,420, followed closely by those in Hawaii, taking in $62,350. Workers in the District of Columbia were the fourth-highest paid, with wages of $61,770. Employers paid $61,600 to their boiler operators in California, making it the state with the fifth-highest salary.
In some cases, the states with the highest salaries also had the highest levels of employment in the boiler field. New York, in second place for salaries, had the country's highest level of employment in the profession. California, in fifth place for salary, had the second-highest employment level. Highest-paying state Illinois had the third-highest employment level. On the other hand, Texas, with the fourth-highest employment level, paid significantly below-average salaries, at $45,010. New Jersey, in fifth place for employment level, also had below-average wages, at $50,680.