Contract Boilermakers find the most work opportunities in the Spring and Fall shutdown seasons, when industrial-scale installations like oil sands or liquid natural gas plants need to be shut down, maintained and restarted. Each such shutdown lasts for three to six weeks.

During this period, Boilermakers disassemble, inspect, maintain and re-assemble physical components of these facilities. Pressure welders in particular are in high demand for work on tubing and delivery systems and on tanks and other vessels.

The working conditions can be challenging. Boilermakers frequently work at height and/or in confined spaces. Weather is always a factor. In the Spring and Fall, daily high temperatures can range from -1C to 15C, and lows from 8C to -14C.

Boilermakers on these projects often work 10- to 12-hour days for six or seven days per week, as long as the shutdown period of their particular facility lasts.

In past years, most contract Boilermakers have worked in oil sands facilities. Here, crews are housed in private or semi-private rooms in buildings close to the installations themselves.