Stationary Engineer

Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     

Stationary Engineer


Stationary engineers, also known as power engineers, operate and maintain various stationary engines like heating, air-conditioning, boilers, turbines, and ventilation systems in large buildings. Stationary engineers also maintain electrical power, steam and other facilities in industrial plants. Like locomotive or marine engineers, they operate similar machines with the exception that stationary machines do not move.

Stationary engineers handle all mechanical repair and maintenance within a building, such as electrical and plumbing. They play a crucial role in monitoring and maintaining expensive equipment and controlling the temperature and air quality within a building. They are responsible for ensuring that boilers and other heating machines operate safely, economically, and within established limits by monitoring meters, gauges, and computerized controls. Sometimes, they manually control equipment and make adjustments when necessary. They use tools to perform repairs and maintenance ranging from a complete overhaul to replacing defective valves, gaskets, or bearings.

Stationary engineers also record relevant facts concerning the operation and maintenance of equipment. For example, on steam boilers, they control and record steam pressure, temperature, water level and chemistry, power output, fuel consumption, and emissions. They watch and listen to machinery and routinely check safety devices, identifying and correcting any trouble that develops. Accordingly, stationary engineers must record their repairs and measurements in a log, for future reference. This helps with investigations for any potential problems.

Stationary engineers might use computers to operate the mechanical systems of new buildings and plants. However, in the case of an emergency, engineers might shut down the automatic system and run everything mechanically to prevent any further errors. In modern plants, stationary engineers may work in a control room environment, analyzing problems and taking action to ensure continuous and reliable operation of equipment and systems.

Routine maintenance work, such as oiling and polishing parts, replacing filters, and removing soot and corrosion that can reduce operating efficiency, is a regular part of a stationary engineer's job. They occasionally test boiler water and add chemicals to prevent corrosion and harmful deposits. They also may check the air quality of the ventilation system and make adjustments to keep within mandated guidelines. All of these tasks must be performed with safety as their number one concern.
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Aerospace Engineer
arrow Agricultural Engineer
arrow Aircraft Design Engineer
arrow [ view all related careers ]

Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad


  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Stationary engineers must have an aptitude for mechanics and electronics. They also need good vision, hearing, manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination. They are generally excellent communicators both in person and in writing, and can work well with others in a team environment. Stationary engineers should enjoy controlling and operating automated and computerized systems, analyzing information and solving problems, and having clear rules and organized methods for their work.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Operate automated or computerized control systems, stationary engines and auxiliary equipment such as boilers, turbines, generators, compressors and other equipment to provide heat, ventilation, refrigeration, light and power for buildings, industrial plants and other work sites
  • Monitor and inspect plant equipment, switches, valves, gauges, alarms, meters and other instruments to measure temperature, pressure and fuel flow, to detect leaks or other equipment malfunctions and to ensure plant equipment is operating normally
  • Troubleshoot and take corrective action to prevent equipment or system failures
  • Analyze and record instrument readings and equipment malfunctions
  • Make adjustments or minor repairs as required
  • Clean and lubricate generators, turbines, pumps and compressors and perform other routine equipment maintenance duties using appropriate lubricants and hand tools
  • Ensure that equipment and processes operate at maximum efficiency
  • Assist in the development of operation, maintenance and safety procedures
  • Ensure that safety codes and other applicable regulations are followed
  • Stationary engineers generally work standard hours but they often work shifts, weekends, holidays and emergency overtime to accommodate continuous production. Their working environment is normally clean, however they are sometimes exposed to high noise levels, high temperatures, dust, grease, hazardous chemicals and unpleasant odors, when on-site. In large plants, stationary engineers may be required to enter confined spaces or inspect equipment located at extreme heights. Safety precautions and procedures must be observed to reduce the risk of injury.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Stationary engineers work in any industry where high pressure vapors are used, including industrial and manufacturing plants, power generating plants, petrochemical plants, pulp and paper mills, distilleries, hospitals, food production plants, refineries, universities, government and commercial establishments.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Experienced stationary engineers could move into design and layout work or in estimating the cost of installations. They may advance to supervisory positions, or go into business for themselves. With additional training, they can transfer their skills to related occupations such as refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic, machinist, plumber, gas fitter, roofer and insulator.

  Educational Paths  
Stationary engineers receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training, through a college technical program in stationary engineering technology, or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become a stationary engineer, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percent of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the stationary engineer a certificate of completion.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Ottawa
York University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Site Map | Cities Site Map | California - Do Not Sell My Info

Copyright 2003- 2020 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.