When Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in the 1830s, it was the latest and greatest. Suddenly, there was a better way to communicate, and it changed everything. Then, in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone, and the decline of the telegraph began. It had taken only 40 years for something better to come along.
When you look back at the history of the boiler, you’ll see it’s been around for a really long time. The first patent for a practical industrial boiler was filed in 1867. So why is it, then, that something better hasn’t come along to replace the boiler? Because they got it right the first time. Even after 150 years, there’s no replacement for good old-fashioned steam. In fact, the boiler industry is thriving, which makes it a smart choice whether you’re constructing a huge factory, building a new hospital, or looking for a career with some job security. The past, present and future of energy is the same as it’s been for nearly two centuries.
There are a lot of reasons the boiler has stuck around so long. First and foremost is their elegant simplicity. Boilers use two of the most basic things in existence: water and heat. Combine them, and you get steam. Route that steam, and you can put it to work. You don’t need to refine fissile materials for nuclear fuel, you don’t need to mine toxic materials to create batteries, you just need to light a fire under a sealed vessel full of water and wait.
In fact, pound for pound, there is still no more efficient way to move large amounts of heat than steam. Nature is pretty lit, quite literally. So while there have been some major advancements in other technologies, steam is still the most viable way in most applications to get stuff done whether you’re heating a classroom, sterilizing medical equipment, moving giant industrial machinery, or just taking a hot shower.
STEAM IS EVERYWHERE
Another reason the boiler industry continues to thrive has to do with the sheer number of boilers that are out there. Since the technology has been around for so long, it’s a foundation of our infrastructure. In fact, 85% of the products you use every day wouldn’t exist without steam. It’s used to create the clothes you wear. It’s used to build the car you drive, and the gasoline that goes into it. The chemicals you use to clean your house are made with steam, as are the compounds used to make the medicines that keep us all healthy.
Literally everything around you is brought to you by steam. Since steam’s reach is so far and wide, it’s pretty apparent that there will be a lot of demand for boiler operators, technicians, and specialists for a very long time. You can’t just uproot an infrastructure like that and replace it overnight. Besides, there’s no reason to. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Another thing to consider when thinking about the longevity of the boiler industry is the alternatives. Yes, renewable energy sources like solar and wind are totally viable. But right now, all that clean energy that gets generated has to be stored somewhere. Unfortunately, current battery technology requires a lot of mining for the resources used to make them. Not only does that take a lot of energy itself, it also generates a lot of toxic byproducts from the mining and refining processes. Remember, steam is just water and heat. As long as that heat can be generated responsibly, with managed emissions and modern exhaust-scrubbing technology (which uses…. you guessed it, steam!) the boiler industry is still better for the environment than a lot of alternatives.
The boiler industry is not only a great source of energy, it’s also a great source of employment. Steam is one of those careers that can pay off big regardless of your skill set. If you’ve got an engineering mind or you’re good with your hands, you can start off as an apprentice right out of high school and be making some seriously good money within just a few years. If you’re more of a salesperson, the steam industry is always looking for smart, personable people who can help customers find the parts, services, and new or rental boilers they need. If you have an eye toward management, steam can also open a lot of doors for you, from running a sales department to running a fleet of techs and trucks.
WARE is at the forefront of the steam industry. The classes we offer at our Boiler University are creating the next generation of skilled technicians and boiler operators who will keep our future powered up, productive, and comfortable. We also support a wide range of customers with our service department, our fleet of new and rental boilers, and our online Boiler Warehouse parts website. No matter what you need, WARE is here to keep your steam running for a long, long time. If you’re looking for a good career, we’re here to help with that, too. Just let us know.