Metal Fabricator (Boilermaker)

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2018: < 5,000
Median weekly earnings: $901 to $1000
Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
Think of ships, submarines, storage tanks, boilers or any other metal fabricated product, and you have entered a boilermaker's work environment.

There are approximately 2,671 boilermakers working in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the Manufacturing industry. Majority of persons in this occupation are males and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has a younger age profile with less than a third of boilermakers aged 45 years or older.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Metal Fabricator (Boilermaker)

Accredited (Award)

  • Boilermakers are highly skilled in making and repairing all types of fabricated metal products. They make and repair vessels or containers which hold liquids and gases that create steam, and are able to withstand the pressure that builds inside. One such vessel is a boiler, which supplies steam to drive huge turbines in electric power plants and to provide heat and power in buildings, factories, ships and submarines. Before repairing or making a fabricated metal product, a boilermaker studies design drawings and creates full size patterns or templates. After the various sized and shaped pieces are marked out on metal, it's time to cut, using hand tools, flame cutting torches or a guillotine. The sections of metal are then shaped or bent and accurately lined up, before they are welded together.


  • Of those currently employed 60% have either Certificate III or IV; and 5% have Certificate I or II. Around 30% of boilermakers have no post-school qualification. It is recommended that you gain the available qualifications to get the best possible chance of employment.

    TAFE SA offers the following short courses that may assist you gain employment in this occupation including Operate and Monitor a Basic Boiler or Operate and Monitor an Intermediate Class Boiler. Check the website for the full list of short courses.

    SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

  • In South Australia, most boilermakers work in the manufacturing, construction and mining industries. However, there is currently a high demand for these tradespeople in the ship and submarine building industry. Shortages for qualified boilermakers exist nationally, and according to a Metals, Manufacturing and Services Industry Training Council spokesperson, there will be a high level of activity in those industries that employ boilermakers for several years yet.

  • If the pieces are very large or heavy, then cranes are used to assemble them. Using hammers, grinders and cutting torches, boilermakers remove any irregular edges so the metal pieces fit together properly. They then join them by welding, bolting or riveting. Boilermakers also align and attach other components such as water tubes and valves and then test the product for any leaks or other defects. And because vessels such as boilers generally have a long shelf life of up to 35 years, a boilermaker is involved in their maintenance and updates components such as boiler tubes to make them even more efficient. If this all sounds like a long and drawn out process, that's because it can be. Just ask former boilermaker, John 'It can be time consuming with a project sometimes taking weeks, but when you see the end product, it's very satisfying'.

  • If you enjoy working with your hands, are physically fit and able to visualise how an object should look from a drawing, you may have the aptitude for working as a boilermaker. An interest in and understanding of welding and working with metals in the area of structural engineering, is also important according to an experienced boilermaker. Most boilermakers train in both boilermaking and structural fabrication and so may also be involved in fitting, assembling and joining aluminium and steel in the construction or repair of towers, bridges and ships.

  • Potential employees need to be very aware of personal and workplace safety as a boilermaker's work environment can be hazardous. They often use potentially dangerous equipment, such as power grinders and oxy-acetylene (torching) equipment. Boilermakers work indoors in large workshops, or on construction sites during heavy engineering construction, such as shipbuilding or mineral processing plant equipment.

    For further information, contact:

    Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (SA)
    GPO Box 1051, Adelaide SA 5001
    Ph: (08) 8332 6155
    Fax: (08) 8364 0563

    Engineering Employers Association, South Australia
    136 Greenhill Rd, Unley SA 5061
    Ph: (08) 8300 0133
    Fax: (08) 8300 0134

    Manufacturing Skills Australia (National Office)
    PO Box 289, North Sydney NSW 2059
    Ph: (02) 9955 5500
    Freecall: 1800 358 458
    Fax: (02) 9955 8044