Trades & Services

Shipwright

Shipwrights build, fit out and repair boats and ships of all sizes, from small handmade craft to large ocean going vessels.

  • Entry-level education

    Apprenticeship

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Shipwright do?

Shipwrights build, fit out and repair boats and ships of all sizes, from small handmade craft to large ocean going vessels. These vessels are built from a range of materials including metal, wood, aluminium, fibreglass, plastic, composites or reinforced cement or concrete. Shipwrights are also called boat builders.

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Work activities

As a shipwright, you would:

  • meet with clients to discuss specifications
  • prepare preliminary sketches of structural parts and sections of vessels
  • produce templates and patterns from full-size detail drawings
  • construct, or oversee the construction of, the vessel according to blueprints or plans
  • plot or mark reference points on building docks or slipways to maintain alignment of the vessel during construction
  • fit out internal and external components of vessels
  • position sections accurately prior to permanent fastening
  • prepare slipways and construct cradles used to support ships during construction, transportation, launching and slipping
  • test all structures and components for soundness prior to launching
  • supervise launching and slipping procedures
  • carry out repairs.
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Key skills and interests

To become a shipwright, you would need:

  • construction, physics, engineering, and maths knowledge
  • to enjoy practical and manual activities
  • an aptitude for technical activities
  • able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • creativity and good problem-solving skills
  • an organised, methodical approach to work
  • good communication skills.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

In a full-time job, you would usually work a standard number of hours per week. If you work in a repair yard, you may have to work overtime or flexible hours, including on weekends, to meet the needs of customers.

Conditions

Shipwrights and boat builders are employed in areas around the waterfront such as marinas and boatsheds, and some work for the Australian Defence Force and for ferry companies. Shipwrights need good physical fitness and may need to work outdoors in all sorts of weather conditions. You would wear appropriate protective clothing when operating equipment and tools.

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How to become an Shipwright?

Entry Level Education

To become a shipwright you usually have to complete an apprenticeship or traineeship in Marine Craft Construction. Employers generally require you to have gained at least your junior secondary school certificate or equivalent.

Most shipwrights begin their careers as ship or boat builders and later transition to careers as shipwrights.

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Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment opportunities for shipwrights and boat builders are expected to grow at an average rate.

The shipbuilding and ship repair services industry in Australia has grown strongly over the past five years. Industry growth is strongly influenced by defence expenditure, Royal Australian Navy (RAN) shipbuilding contracts, and contracts for the construction of ocean-going vehicle and passenger ferries.

Additionally, shipwrights who specialise in designing and building smaller specialty craft, and garner a reputation for craftsmanship, will have good opportunities for employment.

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