Metal fabricator

What they do

Metal fabricators select and prepare metal stock for fabrication to make or repair metal structures such as boilers and pressure vessels. Metal fabricators study blueprints, drawing and specifications to determine job requirements. They shape and bend metal sections and pipes using hand and machine tools. They join metal sections using various welding techniques, as well as cut metal sections by using flame cutting torches and metal cutting machines.

Working conditions

Metal fabricators work mostly in engineering workshops, but may also work in railway or shipyards, or other industrial areas like factories, power stations or even mining operations. Conditions are often dirty, hot, dusty and loud. Metal fabricators are often required to work in cramped areas, and because they may be required to work above, alongside or below a particular structure their work may be awkward. They generally work regular business hours, but depending on their workload or nature of particular projects they may need to work long or odd hours.

Tools and technologies

Metal Fabricators work with hand tools, flame cutting torches or a guillotine to cut metal and grinders, hammers and cutting torches to remove irregular edges. These workers also use machining tools such as vices, rolling machines, and hydraulic presses to bend and shape components that are to be assembled by welding, bolting or riveting. They may also use industrial measuring equipment, and are usually required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as overalls, steel-capped boots, safety glasses and welding masks. Some metal fabricators may also use computers and computer-aided design (CAD) software.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a metal fabricator, you usually need to undertake an apprenticeship in engineering tradesperson fabrication.

The engineering tradesperson fabrication (first class welder), the engineering tradesperson fabrication (heavy/welder) and the engineering tradesperson fabrication (sheetmetal) apprenticeships usually take 42 to 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.