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How to become a Marine Craftsman

marine craftsman careers

What does a Marine Craftsman do?

Marine craftspeople work in the shipbuilding, ship repair and conversion, and the boat building, repair and restoration sectors. The work can range from building hulls and super-structures on sea-going vessels to installing the fixtures and fittings on a narrowboat. Depending on the job, various craft skills are used - electrical, carpentry, plumbing, welding and painting, as well as traditional maritime crafts such as rigging and sailmaking.

Those involved in shipbuilding deal with the construction of larger ships, tankers, and oil and gas platforms for offshore sites. Ship repair workers are normally based at a dockyard working on all sizes and types of vessel. Boat builders and restoration craftspeople are usually found in smaller yards, marinas and workshops, often working on leisure or traditional craft.

Craftspeople work with a variety of materials including steel plate, glass and fibre reinforced plastic (GRP/FRP), composites, wood, solvents, adhesives and coatings. They work from engineering designs and the process can involve:
  • marking out materials using templates
  • welding, cutting and shaping materials
  • assembling sections and pipework
  • installing engines.

Once the major construction/repair work has been carried out, craftspeople move on to 'fitting out' the vessel with furnishings, navigation and communications equipment, internal heating and lighting and, if appropriate, rigging.

What's the working environment like working as a Marine Craftsman?

Marine craftspeople normally work a 37-hour week. Urgent repair work may mean working weekends and shifts, including nights.

Some shipbuilding and boat-building is done in large indoor sheds, but much of the work will be outside in all weathers. Working conditions can be cramped and dirty, and working at heights may be involved.

What does it take to become a Marine Craftsman?

As a marine carftsperson, you should:

  • have an aptitude for practical work
  • be a good team worker
  • have good analytical skills
  • be computer literate
  • have good numeracy skills
  • be able to understand technical plans and drawings
  • have good communication skills
  • be physically fit.

You will need some knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD) packages if involved in the design process.

Marine Craftsman Career Opportunities

In the UK, this sector employs approximately 8,000 people in boat building and around 1,500 in repair and maintenance.

Opportunities for work on larger vessels are mainly in shipyards in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England, whilst openings in boatbuilding and repair tend to be on a smaller scale in areas all round the coast of the UK, especially in the south-west, south-east and East Anglia. There may be the possibility of work overseas.

With experience and qualifications, craftspeople can progress to technician level - see the profile for Marine Engineering Technician. They can also move into marine design or specialist equipment sales and support.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Marine Craftsman that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

British Marine Federation
Marine House
Thorpe Lea Road
TW20 8BF

Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST)
80 Coleman Street

SEMTA (Science Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance)
14 Upton Road
WD18 0JT
Tel: 0808 100 3682

Courses to help you become a Marine Craftsman