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What Are the Duties of a Stationary Engineer?

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Manufacturing environments and large buildings, such as hospitals, offices and universities, use industrial -- and stationary -- equipment to operate their utilities. Stationary engineers operate and maintain such equipment, which may include engines, and air conditioning, heating and refrigeration units. The duties of a stationary engineer, also called a boiler operator, encompass repairing and maintaining the equipment to ensure that it is operating properly.

Education and Training

After obtaining a high school diploma, stationary engineers generally start as a helper or mechanic of less-complicated parts at a facility. After a longterm training program or apprenticeship, they may obtain the title of stationary engineer. Apprenticeships generally last about four years and combine on-the-job and classroom training. Some states require a license for stationary engineers to practice professionally. Before becoming licensed, stationary engineers must be supervised while working with equipment.

Operation and Monitoring

Stationary engineers operate and monitor many types of industrial engines and equipment. They start up the equipment and shut it down. They operate meters, gauges and safety devices to ensure safe and efficient operations. They turn valves to change amounts of liquid and air going into the equipment, and fire up furnaces and boilers.

Maintenance and Repair

Stationary engineers complete routine equipment maintenance and repairs. They inspect the equipment for broken or warn parts, and check operating devices that monitor safety. They employ electronic testing equipment to find potential problems with the equipment and its parts. Routine maintenance includes replacing parts, lubricating moving parts and cleaning equipment.


Stationary engineers keep careful records of daily operations of the equipment. They detail safety inspections; read and record the gauges and fluids they monitor; and log the times of startups and shutdowns. They also detail the maintenance done on the equipment and the parts replaced.

Careers and Salary

Job opportunities for stationary engineers are expected to grow about 6 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Growth for stationary engineers is slower than the 14 percent average growth for all occupations. Industries that expect to hire stationary engineers are health care and education. In 2011, the BLS estimated an average salary of $53,800 per year for stationary engineers.


Elvis Michael has been writing professionally since 2007, contributing technology articles to various online outlets. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in information technology at Northeastern University.

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