Boat builders build, assemble and repair a wide range of smaller vessels such as power boats, lifeboats, canal boats and yachts, using materials such as wood and fibreglass.
Ship builders build, assemble and repair large vessels such as warships, submarines, ferries, cruise ships and tankers, using materials such as steel and other metals. You would usually specialise in a particular area, such as electrics, pipe work, steel work or welding.
You could be:
working from designs and drawings to build and fit out the vessel
using wood, fibre- or glass-reinforced plastic (FRP/GRP) or steel and other metals to construct the hull of the vessel
using a variety of hand and machine tools to shape, mould, cut, clamp and weld materials for the hull and other fittings
assembling pipework and other sections of the boat, such as the rigging and mast if it is a sailing vessel, or installing the engine
fitting out and finishing the interior of the boat and installing furnishings, working with fabrics and paints
installing heating and lighting systems and communication and navigation equipment
doing electrical, plumbing, joinery or welding work on vessels as well as painting them
if building or restoring wooden boats, also using traditional skills such as sailmaking.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual salaries 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). The apprentice rate, for those aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, is £5.28 an hour (1 April 2023). Some employers may pay their apprentices more.
Experienced boat or ship builders normally earn around £25,000 to £35,000 a year. Senior boat builders, or those working on luxury vessels, may earn more.
You would work indoors in a factory or workshop, and outdoors, where you may have to work in all weathers.
Conditions may be dusty, cramped and noisy.
You have to kneel, bend, lift, climb ladders and work at heights.
You would normally wear overalls and safety gear.
You would usually work regular hours, but you may sometimes have to do overtime.
You could enter employment as a trainee or apprentice.
There is a Modern Apprenticeship in Boat Building and Repair at SCQF Level 6.
Entry requirements vary, but generally employers want you to have up to 5 subjects at National 4 or 5, including English, Maths and a science or technological subject.
You may also have to sit an entry test to see how suitable you are for this type of work.
You need good general health and fitness for this job.
It may help if you can demonstrate a genuine interest in boats, especially for working in boat building with smaller companies.
In boat building, most jobs are with small boatyards around the UK coast, in fishing ports or in seaside resorts with marinas for leisure craft. This type of work is mainly concentrated in the South of England. Ship building takes place in a number of places in the UK, including the Clyde and Rosyth. BAE Systems and Babcock are two large companies that offer apprenticeships in different areas of ship building.