How To Become A Shipwright In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how to become shipwrights in Australia.


Are you physically fit, enjoy working for long periods at sea, and are comfortable working at heights? If so, a career as a Shipwright might be suitable for you.


A shipwright designs ships as per specifications. Based on the size of the marine vehicle, they may use automated and manual tools to construct and maintain them in the best condition.


To become a shipwright in Australia, you must complete an apprenticeship and Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction.


This blog discusses the shipwright's responsibilities, what they do, academic qualifications, apprenticeships, courses, job opportunities, work conditions, average salary, and pathways to becoming one.



1. What Is A Shipwright?


Shipbuilding comprises designing ships, boats, canoes, yachts, and other floating vessels. A specialized facility called a shipyard is building them.


Shipwrights or shipbuilders build and repair differently-sized boats from plans and specifications. They construct, fit out, commission, and restore a range of commercial small and large-sized marine vessels made of various materials.



2. What Does A Shipwright Do?


A Shipwright performs the following tasks:


  • Meet clients to discuss specifications

  • Interpret plans, specifications, and blueprints 

  • Use full-size detail drawings to create design templates, and patterns for cutting and fabrication 

  • Prepare introductory drawings of structural parts and parts of vessels

  • Fit and install decking, shafts, safety equipment, frames, fittings, machines, and masts

  • Determine repair requisites and procedures 

  • Repair damaged fittings and vessels using aluminium, plastics, fibreglass, concrete, glass, and Kevlar.

  • Oversee pre-launch testing and launching processes

  • Position sections before permanent fastening

  • Mark lines and points of reference on slipways and dry docks

  • Install masts, frames, decking, fittings, machines, shafts and safety

  • Gather boat shells and erect hull sections of boats

  • Prepare slipways and build cradles to support ships while construction, transportation, slipping, and launching



3. Must-Have Skills For Shipwrights


These are the common skills you need to accomplish the job effectively:


  • Passion for ships, boats, and marine life 

  • Enjoy practical and manual activities

  • Comfortable working outdoors in all weather conditions

  • Able to handle the physical demands of the job

  • Good problem-solving skills

  • Good physical fitness

  • Able to work in all types of weather conditions

  • Organizational skills 

  • Comfortable working at heights on scaffolding

  • Methodical 

  • Quickly adapt to varying settings

  • Time management

  • Clear and Concise communication skills

  • Highly creative 

  • Good knowledge of construction, engineering, physics, and math

  • Team working skills 

  • Good understanding of workplace safety, quality, environmental, and health standards



4. Qualifications For Shipwrights In Australia


Here is what you need to qualify to work as a Shipwright or Boat Builder:




5. Steps To Become A Shipwright In Australia



Step 1: Complete A Shipwright Course


A Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction is the ideal course you need to complete to gain the necessary Shipwright skills and knowledge. It is the route to becoming a trade-qualified shipwright to perform an extensive range of marine craft construction tasks.


The course teaches a broad array of technical knowledge and practical skills to design marine craft using conventional manufacturing methods and innovative technologies.


You get hands-on training from industry-experienced teachers on material science, timber construction, full-size detailed trade drawings, occupational health and safety, and construction repair and maintenance procedures.


Some of the topics covered in this course:


  • Use CAD to read technical drawings and develop 3D shapes

  • Use fibreglass, composite, and timber materials to implement construction methods 

  • Shape surfaces

  • Set up marine structures

  • Overhaul and maintain marine vessel structures and surfaces 

  • Apply protective coatings

  • Safe use and storage of chemicals

  • Safely use manual and electric tools



Step 2: Shipwright Apprenticeship In Australia


Shipwright apprenticeships are lengthy and may take 3 or 4 years to ensure that a student learns all of the creative and practical aspects of shipbuilding. 


Boating Industry Association offers a shipwright apprenticeship that covers trade such as shipwright, electrical metal fabrication, and carpentry, enabling one to apply for a trade qualification.


Many training institutes offer apprenticeships as part of the Cert III in Marine Construction course. Alternatively, you can complete an apprenticeship and gain industry exposure under the supervision of qualified Shipwrights.


Apprenticeships are available full-time, part-time, or school-based. Whether you are a school leaver, an adult worker, or re-entering the workforce, you can always apply for an Apprenticeship.


To find apprenticeship opportunities, you can talk to local employers or visit, or a local business directory website to check programs in your area.



Step 3: Apply for Jobs


Once you are qualified and adequately trained, start hunting for career opportunities. You can search for jobs online on various job search portals.


You can also check local newspapers, industry media, and job portals such as,,, and to stay updated about new job openings in Australia.



6. Working Conditions For A Shipwright


Shipwrights usually work full-time for a standard number of hours each week. Those employed in a repair yard may require work beyond regular hours to meet urgent customer needs.


Shipwrights must wear suitable protective clothing when working with tools and equipment. It is a physically demanding job that requires working even in extreme weather conditions.



7. Specialisations For Shipwrights


Most shipwrights start their careers as shipbuilders and later progress to a shipwright career. 


After gaining experience, they can specialize in designing and constructing small-sized speciality commercial crafts with materials such as reinforced cement, metal, wood, concrete, aluminium, composites, fibreglass, and plastic.


A Shipwright may specialize in a particular boat and vessel type or work in a specific maritime industry. You can gain specialized knowledge in preparing slipways and cradles to support ships during construction, launching, and transportation.



8. Where Do Shipwrights Work?


After studying Certificate III in Marine Construction, Shipwrights can work in the following roles:


  • Shipwright

  • Naval architect

  • Boat Repairer/Builder

  • Marine craft repairs

  • Boatbuilder

  • Boat Builder and Repairer (Moulding and Fibreglass)

  • Boat Builder and Repairer (Wooden and Aluminium Boats)


Shipwrights work in manufacturing, construction, transport, postal, and warehousing industries.


Shipwrights often work in areas around the waterfront, such as in shipyards, boatsheds, small boat yards, marinas, ferry companies, and the repair units of ports. Some also work with boat manufacturing firms away from the waterside.


Shipwright jobs are also available in companies building leisure craft, the Australian Defence Force, and firms constructing and operating marinas. Some Shipwrights also have their mobile businesses and work as self-employed workers.



9. Job Outlook For Shipwrights


Australia is a leader in the marine craft construction industry. The country takes pride in its world-class boat-building amenities and delivering quality training. The sector needs proficient workers to fulfil high-quality manufacturing standards.


According to Labour Market Insights Australia, the ship construction and repair services industry has flourished strongly over the past five years.


Increasing investment in the defence sector, Royal Australian Navy shipbuilding contracts, and contracts for building passenger ferries and marine vehicles will lead to stable future growth and career prospects in Australia.


Shipwright job opportunities for boat builders and shipwrights will rise at an average rate.



10. Alternative Career Options Available For Shipwrights


Shipwrights can use their specialized skills and knowledge in a few other careers in architecture, such as Carpenter


Shipwrights can take wooden boat building courses in Australia to prepare themselves for a carpenter role in building wooden structures such as boats, houses, and buildings. This apprenticeship course helps learn the different aspects of carpentry, such as tools, reading blueprints, and worker safety.


Drafter Shipwrights can complete an associate's degree in drafting and voluntary professional certification to work as drafters. They help boat builders by transforming their hand-made drawings of construction projects into digital schematics using computerized design programs.


Later, engineers and architects can use these digital designs to amend and produce instructions for construction projects.



11. How Much Do Shipwrights Earn In Australia?


The average shipwright's salary in Australia is AU$62,963 per year, equivalent to AU$27.98 per hour or AU$1,200 per week. As you gain more experience, you can advance to senior roles and expect a higher shipwright salary.


Shipwright hourly salary based on experience:


  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$24.76 on average

  • Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$28.21 on average 

  • Experienced shipwright (10-19 years of experience): AU$29.68 on average 



12. Conclusion


If you envision a boatbuilder career, a Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction is the perfect course you need to navigate a successful Shipwright career. 


You gain vital skills that open the door to various career options in this job. The above information and steps will guide you in getting a quick start in this profession.


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