Boat builder

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Marine craftsperson, shipwright

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

Salary Range: £16,000 to £35,000

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How to become a boat builder

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
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College

You could take a college course in marine crafts, like the Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma in Boatbuilding. Some colleges offer introductory courses so you can see if it’s the right choice for you.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More information

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Apprenticeship

You could get into this job by doing a boat builder advanced apprenticeship.

This will usually take 4 years to complete. You’ll do on-the-job training and spend time with a college or training provider.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More information

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Direct application

You can apply directly if you’ve got relevant experience. Qualifications or experience in joinery, engineering, welding, restoration or plumbing can help. It may also help if you’ve worked with boats or at sea before.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology for professional development training.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a boat builder from The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology and British Marine.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • design skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of physics
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to read English
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

You could work in a workshop, at a marina or at a shipyard.

Your working environment may be physically demanding, at height and outdoors in all weathers.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

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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.