Did you know?

Many rail organisations have indigenous scholarships to encourage young people into rail careers. These include cadetships, school-based traineeships and apprenticeships. Check out the careers page of organisations in your area.

Occupation description

Metal fabricators cut, shape, join and finish metal to make, maintain or repair metal products and structures. They use a wide range of hand and power tools and workshop machines such as drills, grinders, clamps, benders and lifting equipment. In the rail industry, fabricators specialise as:

  • Boiler makers (heavy fabrication): Construct and repair rail rolling stock such as wagons and locomotives. Boilermakers trained in structural fabrication may be involved in work on towers, bridges and structural supports.
  • Sheet metal workers (light fabrication): Make and repair light metal products such as doors for rolling stock.
  • Welders: make or repair metal parts manually or by machine for bridges, pipes, vehicles and rolling stock.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

You need to enjoy working with machines, be interested in computer programmable machinery, and be physically fit to handle materials, tools and machines. You must have a strong regard for safety.

Working conditions

You will be paid while you complete your apprenticeship studies. You may travel and work in metropolitan and regional locations to develop your skills. You may also work with private contractors. This is a physically demanding job and you will be mainly working in busy (sometimes noisy) workshops. You may work in shifts.

Entrance requirements and ongoing training and development

  • New Zealand: Mechanical engineering trade qualification and post study trade certificate. Entry requirements vary, but employers usually require NTEA1 for entrance into a trade course with good results in maths and English. You will up-skill as technology changes through in-house or external training and certifications.
  • Australia: Mechanical trade qualification such as Certificate III in in Engineering - Fabrication Trade (Boilermaking/Welding) plus post study trade certificate. Entry requirements vary, but employers usually require Year 10. You will up-skill as technology changes through in-house or external training.

Additional tickets, certification, registration or licences may be required to work in the rail corridor, depending on organisational requirements and government legislation. 

The value of a career in the rail industry

For even more details on what you might earn, the diversity of companies you could work for and the career opportunities available, visit the following careers and training websites. Careers in Rail by the Australasian Railway Association; About the Rail Industry by Rail Skills Australasia and Rail Training by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC).

For more information

Career paths

Typically, you will progress from an entry level position such as an apprentice, through to more senior roles in your area of specialisation such as a supervisor or technical specialist. Once in the rail industry, you will need to complete additional studies or authorisations which will depend on operational and state requirements, to progress. You may have the opportunity to study to become a professional engineer.  

In Australia, there are related qualifications at certificate IV, diploma and advanced diploma levels that may help in your career, including engineering, CNC programming, welding, resource processing, and advanced trade.

This information is generic. Job titles and the experience and qualifications needed to move into other jobs may vary slightly depending on the structure and needs of your organisation and government rules and regulations.

Related Jobs

The jobs below may require additional qualifications as well as experience.

Career Path Flowchart

Typical career path for metal fabrication trades