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California Operating Engineers License

California Labor & Workforce Development Agency
DIR - Division of Occupational Safety & Health
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1302
Oakland, CA 94612

No State Jurisdictional Boiler & Refrigeration Operator's License Law at this time.

However, the City of Los Angeles is the only jurisdiction in California that requires a boiler operator license.

201 N. Figueroa Street, Room 110
(213) 482-0099

A valid Boiler Operator License or Steam Engineer License is required by the City of Los Angeles for a person to operate, within city limits, one or more high pressure steam boilers rated above 5 horsepower (high pressure steam is steam in excess of 15 PSI {PSI - pounds per square inch}) - L.A.M.C. Sec. 97.0201

Local residency is not required to apply for a license.

Licenses from other jurisdictions recognized.

The City of Los Angeles has 4 licensing levels simplifed as follows:

  1. Los Angeles Steam Engineer - Unlimited w/Turbine Endorsement
  2. Los Angeles Steam Engineer – Unlimited
  3. Los Angeles Steam Engineer - 500 HP
  4. Los Angeles Boiler Operator - 35 HP

City of Los Angeles Boiler and Steam Engineers Licenses are as follows:

  1. BOILER OPERATOR: This license allows for the operation of high pressure steam boilers rated from over 5 HP to 35 HP (HP = horsepower).
  2. STEAM ENGINEER - 500 HP: This license allows for the operation of one or more high pressure steam boilers rated up to 500 HP. If multiple boilers are connected for joint operation or piped to a common steam header, the total HP rating from all the connected boilers cannot exceed 500 HP.
  3. STEAM ENGINEER - UNLIMITED HP: This license allows for the operation of one or more high pressure steam boilers of any size or horsepower rating.
  4. TURBINE ENDORSEMENT*: Allows the operation of one or more steam turbines of any size. This applies only to the holders of the Unlimited HP license.

*TURBINE ENDORSEMENT is a notation printed on the Steam Engineer Unlimited Certification when the Turbine exam is passed. One must already have the Steam Engineer Unlimited license in order to qualify for the endorsement examination or one can apply for the Unlimited and Turbine examinations to be taken at the same time, in which case, the Steam Engineer Unlimited exam must be passed first in order to activate the Turbine Endorsement.



1. BOILER OPERATOR: at least 6 months as an operator of boilers over 5HP but not exceeding 35 HP carrying over 15 pounds per square inch of steam.
2. STEAM ENGINEER (500 HP): at least one year full time as a boiler operator (35 HP) or, in lieu thereof, two years experience as a water tender, fireman or assistant engineer working with steam boilers.
3. STEAM ENGINEER (UNLIMITED HP): at least one year full time as an engineer or, in lieu thereof, three years experience as a water tender, fireman or assistant engineer working with steam boilers.
4. STEAM ENGINEER (TURBINE ENDORSEMENT): at least one year experience as an operator or in lieu thereof, three years experience as an oiler, wiper, water tender, auxiliary operator or assistant to the person in charge of a steam turbine.


A signed, written verification of experience from your previous or current employer on their company letterhead shall be submitted with your application.

A completed WORK HISTORY SHEET must accompany all application forms. Include only work experience related to boiler operation. However, courses taken from seminars or technical schools relevant to boiler operation may also be included in the application form or work history sheet for partial work experience credit. Work telephone number(s) and name(s) of supervisor(s) must be provided.

The City reserves the right to verify any claims of employment or work history related to boiler operating experience.

Note: You must specify the type(s) of license that you are applying for on the application form at “Examination Title”.



All examination topics consist of two parts.

The first part is a closed-book written examination with multiple choice questions pertaining to the safe operation of high pressure steam boilers and steam-driven equipment.

The second part, an oral interview, is given only when a passing grade is obtained from the first part and is used to determine the applicant’s practical knowledge and safe operation of steam boilers and steam-related accessories.

Except for foreign language translation dictionaries, no books or reference materials of any kind are permitted to be used during the examination.

Other than the restroom breaks, no one is allowed to leave the room or building until he/she has completed the examination(s) and returned the whole exam packages to the Examiner. The Examiners are not obligated to review test results with an unsuccessful applicant.

In general, the steam boiler exam may contain questions in the following categories:

  1. Boiler Operation & Maintenance
  2. Water Treatment
  3. Boiler Safety & Control Devices
  4. Safety or Relief Valves
  5. Combustion Principles
  6. Physics & Chemistry
  7. Pumps and Compressors
  8. Superheaters & Economizers

PASSING SCORE: 70% minimum. Applicants who attain at least 35 correct answers (from 50 questions) in the written Steam Engineer exam or 18 correct answers (from 25 questions) in either the Boiler Operator or Turbine Endorsement written exam will be eligible for the oral interview. Both the written and oral exams must be passed in order to get a boiler operator or steam engineer license or the turbine endorsement. Cheating during the written exams will result in automatic failure of the applicant and may affect the acceptability of the applicant to take other City examinations.

SCHEDULING: All applicants will be notified of the examination date by mail. If unable to take the examination, the applicant will automatically be rescheduled. Applications expire 6 months from cashier’s validation date. If examinations are not taken within that time, a new application must be filed and new fees paid. The previous fees shall not be refundable.


201 N. Figueroa St, 4th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012



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