Career Profile: Boat Builders and Shipwrights
Boats and ships are useful for travelling on the water, whether on a short trip across a river or a long one across an ocean. Boat builders and shipwrights help to make that possible. If you are attentive to detail and enjoy working with your hands, the job of boat builder or shipwright could be right for you.
The jobs of boat builder and shipwright are closely connected. Shipwrights normally do much of the planning and designing of the vessels, while boat builders read the plans and carry out the work. However, the jobs can overlap, especially in small companies with only a few employees.
Education levels can affect the salaries that boat builders and shipwrights receive. People with a high school diploma start at about $26,200 per year. Many people eventually receive $34,000 at this level. People with a certificate or diploma from a trade school generally earn about $53,300 per year, and those with a bachelor’s degree from a university can earn $89,400 per year. Generally, salaries range between $26,200 and $90,700.
Most people in this trade work with both designing and building the ship. They need to be able to imagine a design, draw it with the proper proportions, and do the actual cutting of materials and putting them together. High school courses in mathematics can help with the calculations, and English courses can help with reading and understanding instructions or with researching different designs.
Much of the design work happens in offices, but the building process happens in shipyards and dry docks. Work is likely to be postponed in very bad weather, such as thunderstorms or strong winds, but people in this trade should be prepared to work in unpleasant conditions when necessary. Most jobs are on the east and west coasts of Canada near the oceans, but some jobs are also available near lakes and rivers.
Some of this kind of work is solitary, especially in the design phase, but boat builders and shipwrights should be prepared to work with other people. They might need to supervise others and to divide up the work in the most effective way so that the job can be finished on time.
Sometimes a tight deadline or a few days of bad weather might require overtime work to get the job done. Certain tasks might also need to be finished in one day to allow paint or glue to dry properly. Although people in this job can often work regular hours, they need to be prepared to work long into the evening when necessary.
Precision is important in designing and building boats. People in this trade need to be careful to cut the wood or metal to the right size and fit the pieces together properly so that a ship will not sink in the middle of a lake or ocean. Sometimes, this might require many small adjustments to get the right shape and size of piece. Attention to detail is important, and patience is a good quality to develop for the times when workers encounter problems.
Knowledge is important in this trade. Boat builders and shipwrights need to know the best materials to use for certain types of vessels and know what happens when these materials are in the water for hours or days at a time. For example, certain types of wood might require special coatings to keep them from rotting, and metal might also need different treatment, depending on whether the vessels will be in salt water or fresh water.
A career as a boat builder and shipwright can be rewarding for people who are good at thinking a process through but who can also do the actual work. It might be the right job for you.
Career Planner.com. “Boat Builders and Shipwrights.” https://job-descriptions.careerplanner.com/Boat-Builders-and-Shipwrights.cfm.
Payscale.com. “Average Shipwright Hourly Pay in Canada.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Shipwright/Hourly_Rate.
Pathways to Jobs. “Shipwright (Boat Builder).” https://pathwaystojobs.ca/career/502/Shipwright__Boat_Builder.
Salary Explorer. “Boat Builder and Shipwright Average Salary in Canada 2022.” http://www.salaryexplorer.com/salary-survey.php?loc=38&loctype=1&job=162&jobtype=3#.