Fabricators or platers cut, shape and join heavy sheet metal. This is then used in the building of large structures such as tanks, oil rigs, power stations and the hulls of ships. (Those who work with thin sheet metal are called Sheet Metal Workers).
You could be:
reading and interpreting technical drawings
marking out the lines for cutting, drilling or shaping the metal plate
operating equipment (mostly computer controlled) to cut the metal
shaping and forming the metal, using large machines such as rollers and presses
drilling or punching holes in the metal or cutting it
moving the plates into position for assembly, using chains, cranes and hoists
assembling the parts into a structure, usually by welding it, but sometimes using bolts and rivets
finishing off the assembly, using tools like grinders and polishers to smooth the surface.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
A Modern Apprentice may start on the National Minimum Wage (NMW). At present the apprentice rate, for those aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, is £4.81 an hour (1 April 2022). Some employers may pay their apprentices more.
The basic starting salaries for fabricators or platers might be around £20,00 a year, rising to between £25,000 and £30,000 with some experience. At a supervisor level, you could earn over £34,000.
You would work on outdoor construction sites in all weathers or in very large workshops
You might work offshore on an oil or gas platform, where weather can be cold and rough.
You would have to take great care to avoid accidents with machines or when working at heights.
You would have to wear suitable protective clothing, such as boiler suits, ear protectors, safety visors or goggles, gloves and hard hats.
In some cases you would work normal hours, but in some companies shift work may be required. There may be regular overtime.
You could enter through the Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship (FA), which you can start in S5 and study at school and college. Entry requirements vary between colleges, but you usually need 3 subjects at National 5 including English and Maths. Some colleges also ask for Physics.
You might enter though a Modern Apprenticeship.
Employers’ requirements vary, but most expect applicants to have relevant subjects at National 4 or 5, including English, Maths and science or technological subjects.
You may also have to sit an entry test to see how suitable you are for this type of work.
If you work in the construction sector you must hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card and possibly a Client Contractor National Safety Group (CCNSG) Passport Scheme or equivalent to work on site. You will need to pass a health, safety and environment test to qualify for this scheme.
If you work offshore you would undergo specific training, such as the Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training Certificate (BOSIET).
Fabricators or platers are employed by engineering and construction firms. You can find jobs advertised on the internet, such as the Universal Jobmatch website, and at your local Jobcentre Plus office.
What Does it Take?
You need to have:
practical and technical ability
good hand skills
an accurate and methodical approach
good concentration and attention to detail
a good level of fitness for lifting and moving heavy items
an awareness of health and safety issues.
You need to be able to:
read and interpret technical drawings
measure and calculate sizes
picture the end product
work outside in all weather conditions
work at heights.
You would usually complete SVQs in a relevant area, such as Fabrication and Welding Engineering at SCQF Levels 5 and 6.
For senior jobs, you may need to do further specialist training.
After experience you may be able to gain promotion. Promoted jobs include foreman or forewoman, trainer, inspector and manager.
There may be opportunities to work on construction projects abroad.