Boat builder and repairer


Also known as:

  • Marine fabricator

What they do

Boat builders construct, fit-out and repair marine vessels - from small pleasure and recreation craft e.g. jet skis through to larger commercial and naval vessels. Boat builders work on all aspects of building new marine vessels - from drafting the initial design; building the frame, hull, deck and cabins, installing engines and furnishings, and painting and finishing the completed vessel. They may also carry out repairs. These workers are often responsible for preparing slipway and building cradles to support vessels during construction, transportation, repair and launching. They may also supervise launching and slipping procedures, and conduct tests to ensure that any launched vessels are operating properly.

Specialisations include: Composite boat builder, Rigger (boat), Sparmaker, Wooden boat builder, Yacht builder

Working conditions

Boat builders often work indoors in workshops or factories; however repair work is also carried out in boat yards, at marinas and other waterfront locations. Workshops and factories can be noisy, dusty environments and some of the building materials used can cause skin irritation or may release noxious fumes - although these areas should be well ventilated. Depending on the size of a vessel and the work being carried out, boat builders may need to work at heights, either on ladders or scaffolding. The inside of some vessels may also be quite confined. Most boat builders work regular business hours, although evening and weekend work may sometimes be necessary to meet deadlines. In Western Australia the majority of boat builders are employed by construction firms, the Australian Defence Force, leisure craft building companies, as surveyors and in firms engaged in building and operating marinas. Self-employment opportunities also exist.

Tools and technologies

Boat builders may work with a range of building materials including, wood, steel, aluminium, fibreglass, plastic and/or composites. The specific tools and materials used for joining and finishing will vary, depending on the type of building materials being used and may include saws, drills, sanders, welding equipment, resins, paints and glues. Safety equipment may also be required e.g. overalls, earmuffs, goggles and gloves. Boat builders will commonly use computers and computer-aided design (CAD) software in the early stages of design.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a boat builder you usually need to complete an apprenticeship. The boat repairer/builder, boat builder and repairer (moulding and fibreglass), or boat builder and repairer (wooden boats) apprenticeships usually take 48 months to complete and are available as school-based apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.