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One of our oldest modes of transportation and still a much-used source of recreation, boats are used worldwide for transporting goods and for leisure. Boats come in all designs, shapes, sizes and colors. Like everything else someone is behind the design and crafting of each of these boats and that person is referred to as a boatbuilder.

From reading blueprints, to cutting and shaping the materials, right down to the fasteners and paint, boat builders are involved with every step of the process. Workers in this trade must be good with interpreting blueprints and using their hands to manifest the desired finished product. They must also have an eye for fine details to make sure all aspects of the building process are completed properly.
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  Interests and Skills  
Generally, these workers should enjoy working with their hands and doing precise work. Manual dexterity and an eye for fitting pieces together accurately are needed. They must have good form perception which allows them to visualize how various boat components fit together to form a finished product. Boatbuilders need to be knowledgeable about different materials such as fiberglass, metal and wood and how to best use them in the building process.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Interpret blueprint data to build a finished product
  • Use machines and/or hand tools to cut out and shape parts from stock material
  • Cleaning trimming and sanding pieces to ensure proper fit and finish
  • Prepare fasteners, glues, paints or metallic solutions for the final finishing
  • Clean and maintain shop or work area
  • Boatbuilders may find themselves in a shop environment for eight hours a day or if they are self-employed they will regulate their own hours. Boatbuilders must be organized and able to work efficiently on their own to create a finished product.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • People in this profession are employed at boat and marine craft manufacturing companies or they may be self-employed.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Skilled boatbuilders can teach classes in amateur as well as professional boatbuilding at local community colleges. Opportunities for advancement into areas such as teaching or boatyard management are possible with apprenticeship training, experience in the field, and good interpersonal skills.

  Educational Paths  
Boatbuilders receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become a boatbuilder, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percent of what an employer pays the Journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the boatbuilder a certificate of completion.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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