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Boat builder Marine craftsperson, shipwright

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Boat builders build, repair and refit marine craft from small sailing boats to large sea-going vessels.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You can get into this job through an apprenticeship in boat building or marine engineering.

To get onto these apprenticeships, you'll usually need 4 to 5 GCSEs, including maths and English, or equivalent qualifications.

You could also take a college course in boat building or marine crafts. Some colleges offer introductory courses so you can see if it’s the right choice for you.

Qualifications or experience in joinery, welding or plumbing can be useful.

Visit British Marine for details about boat building careers and training.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent practical skills
  • problem solving skills
  • the ability to understand technical plans and drawings
  • computer-aided design (CAD) skills for some jobs
  • maths skills
  • the ability to work in a team

3. What you'll do

Your work could range from building hulls for sea-going vessels to restoring the fixtures and fittings on traditional canal narrowboats.

Depending on the job, you’ll:

  • plan your work in line with design instructions
  • use tools to cut and shape boat parts and sections
  • join sections together using welding equipment or resins
  • service and repair engines
  • refit vessels, for example with new electrics or plumbing
  • install navigation and communications equipment
  • apply finishes using varnishes and paints
  • carry out safety and quality checks

You'll use carpentry, electrical, plumbing and welding skills, as well as more traditional marine craft skills like rigging and sail making.

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £19,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: up to £35,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll work between 35 and 40 hours a week. Urgent repair work may mean you have to work weekends or sometimes through the night.

Some boat building is done under cover in large indoor sheds at dockyards or marinas. A lot of the work is done outside in all weathers.

6. Career path and progression

With experience and qualifications, you could become a marine engineer.

You could also move into boat design, work as an assistant to a naval architect or specialise in maritime equipment sales and support.

You could use your skills to transfer to other branches of engineering or into construction.

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Last updated: 24 October 2017