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Metal fabricator

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Summary of occupation

Boilermakers shape, cut, join and finish large, heavy pieces of metal to make industrial products or structures such as ships, tanks or boilers. They pull, press, bend, roll and shape the metal using heavy machinery, and join the pieces together by bolting or welding. They seal their metal joins and secure other pieces such as taps, tubes or valves in place to create functional industrial products.

Boilermakers work all over the state, from construction jobs to mining operations, manufacturing boilers and containers that are used for many different purposes.

ANZSCO description: Marks off and fabricates structural steel and other metal stock to make or repair metal products and structures such as boilers and pressure vessels.
Alternative names: Boilermaker, Fabrication Engineering Tradesperson
Specialisations: Blacksmith, Boilermaker-Welder, Brass Finisher, Metal Fabricator-Welder, Metal Template Maker, Sheetmetal Worker (Light Fabrication), Structural Steel Trades Worker, Welder (First Class)
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A boilermaker needs:

  • physical strength and fitness
  • an eye for detail
  • technical and mechanical aptitude
  • patience and accuracy
  • the ability to handle tools and machinery
  • problem-solving skills
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Working conditions

Boilermakers work mostly in engineering workshops, but may also work in railway or shipyards, or other industrial areas like factories, power stations or even mining operations. Conditions are often dirty, hot, dusty and loud. Boilermakers are often required to work in cramped areas, and because they may be required to work above, alongside or below a particular structure their work may be awkward. They generally work regular business hours, but depending on their workload or nature of particular projects they may need to work long or odd hours.

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Salary details

On average, metal fabricators (boilermakers), classified under structural steel and welding trades workers, can expect to earn between $1 250 and $1 499 per week ($65 000 and $77 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

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Tools and technologies

Boilermakers work with hand tools, flame cutting torches or a guillotine to cut metal and grinders, hammers and cutting torches to remove irregular edges. These workers also use machining tools such as vices, rolling machines, and hydraulic presses to bend and shape components that are to be assembled by welding, bolting or riveting. They may also use industrial measuring equipment, and are usually required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as overalls, steel-capped boots, safety glasses and welding masks. Some boilermakers may also use computers and computer-aided design (CAD) software.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a metal fabricator, you usually need to complete an apprenticeship. The metal fabricator (boilermaker) and boilermaker apprenticeships usually take 48 months to complete and are available as school-based apprenticeships.   

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Engineering Fabricator (Heavy Welding)  Video Engineering Fabricator (Heavy Welding) Occupation

Boilermakers shape, cut, join and finish large, heavy pieces of metal to make industrial products or structures such as ships, tanks or boilers.

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