Boat Builder Kaihanga Waka

Boat builders build, repair, and sometimes design boats and their interiors. This can include furnishings, engines, electrics and plumbing.

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Boat builders may do some or all of the following:

  • build, refit, repair and service boats
  • use computer-aided design (CAD) software, diagrams or sketches to build boats
  • use a range of tools and materials 
  • select the correct building materials to use, such as composite materials, timber, alloy and steel
  • build interior/exterior boat cabinetry
  • work safely and reduce hazards as much as possible
  • install engines and marine systems (plumbing, electrical, electronic, tankage) and components in boats.

Physical Requirements

Boat builders need to be reasonably fit and healthy as they spend long periods on their feet. They also need to be comfortable working in confined spaces and at heights.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for boat builders includes:

  • boating 
  • construction – especially carpentry, plumbing and electrical work
  • engineering 
  • panelbeating and painting.

Personal Qualities

Boat builders need to be:

  • good at maths
  • accurate and reliable
  • motivated to learn a variety of tasks to a high standard
  • able to work well in a team
  • good at solving problems
  • interested in boats and boating.


Boat builders need to have knowledge of some or all of the following:

  • different boat building methods
  • different types of boat building materials and how they are used in the manufacturing process
  • how to interpret diagrams, rough sketches and computer-aided design (CAD) drawings
  • how to design boats using online tools
  • carpentry and engineering
  • how to install machinery, cabinetry and other equipment
  • electrical wiring, plumbing and painting
  • safe working practices
  • trends in boat design.


Boat builders:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may have to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines
  • work in workshops and factories, and do repairs outdoors in boat builders' yards, slipways and marinas
  • work in conditions that can be dusty, noisy and fumy.

Boat Builders can earn around $23-$30 per hour.

Pay for boat builders varies depending on skills, experience, and the type of work they do. Pay rates in Auckland tend to be higher.

  • Apprentice boat builders usually start on minimum wage.
  • Boat builders with one to five years' experience usually earn minimum wage to $30 an hour.  
  • Senior boat builders, team leaders and managers can earn between $30 and $50 an hour.
  • Specialised managers, designers and self-employed boat builders can earn between $50 and $75 an hour.

Source: New Zealand Marine and Composites Industry Training Organisation, 2019.

Boat builders may progress to set up their own boat building or repair businesses, or move into managerial or training roles.

With further training, boat builders may progress to become naval architects or marine designers.

Boat builders may specialise in:

  • chandlery (selling boats and boating equipment)
  • marine coatings such as painting
  • marine interiors such as furnishings
  • marine systems engineering such as electrical wiring
  • production boat building (building boats on an assembly line)
  • yacht rig structures such as spars, rigging and sails.

Years Of Training

3-4 years of training usually required.

To become a boat builder you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a Level 4 certificate. 

Boat Builder