Why i Want to be Stationary Engineer

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What I Knew

The profession I am most interested in is engineering. I would love to become any kind of engineer because I am always thinking about how I can create and improve machines or systems around the world. Engineering requires a strong mathematical understanding and I personally love learning and progressing in mathematics. Engineering is a career that requires a large mental capability around all areas, requiring that you are willing to be pushed and challenged mentally. Personally, I love that more than I should. Academics is where I soar, and engineering is where all of that academic knowledge is applied.

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I know that engineering requires a lot of education, put into an engineering major. I also know that the exact engineering career I am going for, a stationary engineer, is the person that makes sure the boilers and mechanical panels in buildings are working at their best capacity. I also understand that you have to be able to make it through an engineering major or apprenticeship, which requires certain courses like physics and advanced mathematics.

What I Wanted To Know

Personally I am really invested into understanding this job, and to do this I have to ask many questions. I focused mainly on the requirements of the job. What kind of education is required to be a stationary engineer? How vigorous are the courses I’m supposed to take? How will a degree required for this field benefit my work life? What is the career path? What hardships will I face in preparation for this career? To organize my research, I boiled it down to 5 main questions. These questions are


To answer these questions, I took to credible online sources and an interview with an engineer that is currently involved in this profession. After research, I found an outstanding amount of information on my chosen profession.

Stationary engineers fix and maintain boilers, engines, and generators in any kind of building that has these systems. They also repair and conserve the pumps, compressors, fans, and pressure vessels that are a part of these systems. Stationary engineers preserve the efficiency of these systems, and provide routine checks on each system and its parts to ensure this efficiency. They also read and maintain gauge and meter levels. (Career Cruising)

Stationary engineers are expected to do a moderate amount of training or outside education before becoming a registered stationary engineer. The most common way to enter this career is through a formal 4-year apprenticeship. A union called IUOE (International Union of Operating Engineers) is the main provider of legitimate apprenticeships that can get people to become certified stationary engineers. Within this apprenticeship, individuals are trained under a senior stationary engineer, with an additional 600 hours of in-class training. Individuals can also enter as a novice engineer and train on the job under a senior engineer. This pathway to the career tends to take individuals longer than an established apprenticeship. (Career Cruising)

Additionally, stationary engineers work full shifts and earn a yearly salary. Over all, salaries throughout all levels earn on average, between $35,000 and $93,000 a year. The median average salary is around $59,000 a year. Employer also accounts to pay. For instance, engineers in the outskirts often earn less than engineers in industrial factory settings. Apprentices earn a small wage which increases after each year. Additionally, engineers who work full time receive benefits from their employer, like healthcare and paid vacation days. (Career Cruising)

The career path of stationary engineers is relatively easy. Apprentices train under a senior engineer, and earn an average of $25,000 to $35,000 a year. Median level stationary engineers do the normal duties of stationary engineers. They manage and repair systems inside of the building, train apprentices, and keep logs of repairs and advancements. These engineers earn around $35,000 to $55,000 a year. To become a starting level stationary engineer, a stationary engineer’s license is required. Assistant-Chief engineers are responsible for minor leadership duties on top of the traditional stationary engineer responsibilities. They earn an average of $55,000 to $70,000 yearly.

To become an assistant-chief engineer, one must demonstrate excellence in skill and performance at their normal day-to-day tasks. Lastly is the chief stationary engineer, who is the highest form of authority in the workplace, aside from the boss of course. They train and manage staff, conduct maintenance, handle budgets and contracts, and oversees a lot of significant change in the workplace. These engineers earn an average of $55,000 to $80,000 yearly. To reach this, one must have years of experience and demonstrate excellence in their work. (Learn.org)

Lastly, the work environment. Stationary engineers operate in any building or facility that uses boilers. This can range from hospitals to factories. Many engineers work from a central control room that gives the engineer easy access to the state of each system. Engineers who do repairs often times are prone to dirty conditions or residue from the systems. The machines engineers work with are often very dangerous and loud.

Engineers also may run into contact with dangerous chemicals that may be carcinogens. The machinery can prove to be dangerous with the risks of shocks and burns. Engineers also must be ready to work in confined spaces or great heights while on the job. Additionally, these engineers often work 40 hours a week, in 8 hour shifts. Because an engineer must always be present to watch over the systems of the facility, stationary engineers often times end up working nights, weekends, or holidays. (Career Cruising)


To obtain even more information, I sought out an interview with an engineer. The engineer happened to be my father, Rick Allen. Rick completed an AA degree with an unspecified college, and has been working in the same career for over 20 years. Rick exclaims that “ability is more important than a formal degree”.

Rick has been engineering software for over 20 years for an investment management company. Rick explains that entry level at the firm he works for is around $100,000. Although through work and dedication, promotions are earned. Rick exclaims that he became hooked after a middle school programming class, and began learning software development from there. Rick also receives benefits from his employer. Rick’s employer covers his medical insurance, salary, and a budget for technology that he uses to get his job done.

Rick works an early-bird shift, often starting at 6 am sharp, and working until 3. Although he says about 5-6 hours is used productively towards his work. Rick’s daily duties include analyzing problems and developing solutions to increase efficiency. His main prioritization is to create accurate displays of stocks for his company’s clients to see. Similar to a stationary engineer, Rick monitors and repairs systems that benefit his company.

Rick exclaims that his job has changed him drastically, allowing him a proficiency on an engineer’s perspective. Rick explains that after his experience, he has become, “…adept at taking a problem and breaking it down to steps that can be easily solved”. Rick has learned to become a master of data analysis, and a series of problem solving techniques.

Rick says the thing he enjoys about his job is helping his company, and creating software that make his life easier. He also advises that people don’t become caught in education and should focus more on just learning the craft they would like to pursue.

What I learned

I learned that despite its benefits, a career path as a stationary engineer would not be a beneficial career for myself. Although the career would be good for individuals that are handy and physically inclined, it just isn’t the job I can see myself doing in the future. The pay is nice, and the benefits many employers provide are very convincing factors, but I would see myself pursuing a more mentally challenging career.

I wanted to look into this career because it is a branch of engineering, and that is the passion I wish to pursue. Although now I understand the benefits and detriments that come with becoming a stationary engineer. I am not certain to which path I will pursue, but my eyes have been opened to the world of stationary engineering, and ultimately this experience will help my choosing of a career in the future.

Works Cited

  1. Allen, Rick. Personal Interview. 2 Dec. 2018.
  2. “Stationary Engineer”. Career Cruising. www2.careercruising.com/careers/profile-at-a-glance/404
  3. “Stationary Engineer”. Learn.org. learn.org/articles/what_does_a_stationary_engineer_do.html
  4. International Union of Operating Engineers. “Stationary Engineer”. International Union of
  5. Operating Engineers. Washington DC. www.ivoe.org/jobs/stationary-engineer     
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Why I Want to Be Stationary Engineer. (2021, Apr 03). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from

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