Metal Fabricator or Shipfitter


Metal fabricator or shipfitters make and repair metal parts used in the construction of ships, tanks, towers, boilers, pressure vessels and other similar structures and products.

They layout, cut and fabricate structural steel, plate and miscellaneous ferrous and non-ferrous metals and assemble and fit metal sections and plates together to form complete units or sub-units, such as frames, plates, girders and chutes that are used later in the assembly process.

Some fabricators are employed in structural steel, boiler and platework fabrication plants. others are employed by shipyards and ship repair facilities.

  • Study engineering drawings and blueprints to determine the materials required and to plan the order of tasks to cut metal most efficiently.
  • Assemble, fit, and install prefabricated metal parts and components to build heavy industrial machinery in ships and other vessels.
  • Move, align and set assemblies and components into position using lifting devices like cranes and pulleys.
  • Set up and operate various heavy-duty metalworking machines such as brake presses, shears, cutting torches, grinders and drills, including computer numerical control (CNC) equipment, to bend, cut, form, punch, drill or otherwise form heavy metal components.
  • Inspect parts, subassemblies and finished products to ensure quality and solid working function.
  • You are passionate about bringing numerous parts and processes together to create a finished product.
  • You are focused on the details, and you can easily predict the next move in a project.
  • You are into new technologies and a technical focus
  • on problem solving.
  • You like watching the results of your hard work in action almost immediately.


Careers in the BC shipbuilding & ship repair industry usually begin with an apprenticeship in a Red Seal trade or with a job directly at a shipyard. Many get their start in shipbuilding as a shipyard labourer prior to being accepted into an apprenticeship program.

Discuss possible career steps with your school counsellor, career counsellor, or a union hall representative and consider high school trades programs and post-secondary pre-apprenticeship programs as a great place to start learning about the trades. 

ACE-IT High School Program (Metal Fabricator)


Most apprenticeships require you to have a high school diploma and to complete a foundations certificate as a prerequisite prior to starting your apprenticeship. Check with available training providers to learn their specific eligibility requirements. 

There are different pathways you can take in order to become a metal fabricator. In order to be eligible for industry certification as a metal fabricator, you can complete a three to five-year apprenticeship program or you can apply a combination of over four years of practical work experience as a metal fabricator, plus some high school, college or other industry courses.


Red Seal trade certification allows for movement between provinces.

The Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program


Employer sponsored apprentices are selected and sponsored through an application process. Union sponsored apprentices are selected and sponsored through their trade union and can be recruited by employers based on the needs of a shipyard.


Apprentices can receive up to $4,000 in grants to pay tuition, travel, tools, or other expenses. If you are considering an apprenticeship, visit the Red Seal program for information on how to get started.