Boat Builder


Boat builders make and repair sailing, fishing, pleasure and motor boats. They may also design vessels, or assist naval architects with the design of vessels.

Boat builders may specialise in building boats in one or more of the following mediums: composite, wood, alloy or steel.

Tasks and Duties:

  • make patterns of the vessel’s parts
  • select the correct materials to be used from a full range of composite materials and timber
  • make the framework of the vessel
  • cut and attach planks to the framework
  • strengthen and seal the vessel
  • fit the engine, beds, deck beams and decking to the vessel
  • construct wheel and deck houses, or cabins
  • repair and maintain vessels
  • may complete electrical, plumbing, painting and joinery work on the vessel
  • may use CAD (computer-aided design) software to draw a full plan of the vessel (lofting)


Boat builders need to have woodwork and engineering skills, mathematical ability and the ability to do several tasks at once. They also need to have a variety of technical skills such as the ability to install machinery and other equipment on board a sea-going vessel.


Boat builders need to know about different types of boat building materials, such as resin, fibreglass, steel and timber, their properties, and how to select the best materials for the job. They need to know about different building methods, such as carpentry, electrical wiring, plumbing, painting, and the tools that are used. Boat builders also need to know how to interpret diagrams, rough sketches and complex computer-generated designs. They must be aware of safe work practices, and creative and artistic trends in boat design.

Personal Qualities:

Boat builders need to be interested in boats and boating. They should be accurate, practical, reliable, and able to get on with people and work as part of a team. They also need to have artistic ability, creative flair, and an appreciation of boat design trends. It is important that boat builders are comfortable with heights and working in confined spaces.

Physical Requirements:

Boat builders need good hand-eye co-ordination and should be fit and healthy.

Educational Requirements:

NCEA Level 1 in English, maths, science, graphics, and workshop technology is preferable.

Entry Requirements:

A current driver’s license is generally required.

Useful Experience

Previous boating experience is essential for boat builders, while woodwork, electrical wiring, plumbing and other aspects of the building trade may also be useful.

Training on the job

Many boat building skills are gained on the job. Boat builders begin as apprentices who complete unit standards that reflect the specific skill requirements of the area of boat building that they are specialising such as composite, wood, alloy or steel.
There are national certificate courses available, which cover marine sales and service, boat building and maintenance, and marine design.

Work Places

Boat builders work both indoors and outdoors. Most of the boat building work takes place indoors in workshops and factories, while repair work is often completed outdoors in boat builders’ yards and slipways. There may be some travel required to meet clients, suppliers, designers or other boat builders.

Workplace conditions for boat builders are usually dusty, noisy and fumy. However, as safety equipment is worn a lot of the time, these conditions are workable.

Further Information

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