Metal Fabricator Apprenticeship

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Mark, 22

Mark is in the final year of his metal fabricator apprenticeship. Working in the manufacturing industry, he recommends this as a great career for anyone interested in metalwork. Find out more:

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Fact file

Job description: As a metal fabricator, Mark's main role is to weld together the various metal parts that make up a whole product. He works for a small firm in regional Victoria and combines full time work with part time studies at TAFE.

Subjects studied: Maths, English, Mechanics, Metalwork, Environmental Studies

Further training: Fourth Year Apprentice (four years total)

Salary: $35,000

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Profile

With his father working in manufacturing, Mark was exposed to the broad range of careers offered in the manufacturing industry from a young age. The only question was which career to choose. When he finished Year 12, he completed a Certificate 1 course in Engineering. However, his talent for metalworking, and the enormous number of job offerings in the field, soon found him beginning an apprenticeship in metal fabrication.

As a metal fabricator, much of Mark's time is spent welding up the various metal components to make the final product. The company he works for specialises in manufacturing treatment tables, such as those used in hospitals or by massage and physiotherapists.

One of the great things about his job is the variety of different types of jobs he gets to do. While you or I may think one treatment table is the same as any other, depending on the use of the table, there can be any number of differences. And once each table has been completed, Mark is also responsible for testing the strength of the table before it is sent to the customer. This is one of the most important parts of his job - just imagine what would happen if the table collapsed while you were having a relaxing massage!

For most jobs, Mark receives either a verbal brief or a drawing to work by. Sometimes, however, a customer describes something very different to anything Mark has worked on before. In these cases, Mark works closely with the research and development team to come up with a practical solution. For instance, Mark recently helped design a treatment table that could convert into a desk for use when training therapists.

In fact, it is this opportunity for participating in the development of new products that is one of the main things Mark loves about his job. It means that there is always something new to do, so things never get boring. And with tight production times, Mark is kept busy all the time, which is just how he likes it. As he says: "I love it when I am able to get something done really well in the timeframe - that's what gives me the greatest satisfaction."

When asked where he sees himself in five years time, Mark isn't quite sure - there are just too many opportunities for him to follow. "I will soon be doing an Advanced Diploma of Engineering part time and learning a bit about CAD design," he says. "Because I enjoy the design parts of my job, this will help in the future, but then again there is lots of money to be made as a metal fabricator working in the mining industry, so who knows?"

In fact the only thing Mark can be sure of is that whatever direction he decides to follow in the future, there will always be a job for a metal fabricator.

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Job specs

Fabrication engineering tradespersons cut, shape, join and finish metal to make, maintain or repair metal products and structures. They may produce moulds or patterns for metal castings, apply coatings and work with a variety of materials.

Duties

A fabrication engineering tradesperson may perform the following tasks:

  • Examine detailed drawings or specifications to find out job, material and equipment requirements
  • Cut, roll, shape, bend, mould, spin, heat or hammer metal products to fabricate parts or sub-assemblies
  • Heat treat metal parts and components
  • Set up and/or operate hand and machine tools, welding equipment or computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines
  • Assemble parts and structures by lining up and joining them by welding, bolting or riveting
  • Finish products by cleaning, polishing, filing or bathing them in acid solutions, or by applying protective or decorative coatings

Personal requirements

  • Enjoy technical activities
  • Interested in computer programmable machinery
  • Physically fit
  • Strength to handle materials, tools and machines
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Able to work in a team
  • Able to work independently
  • Patience
  • Accuracy
  • No skin or breathing allergies
  • Safety conscious

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Getting started

Find out more about a career in metal fabrication engineering:

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (VIC)
251 Queensberry Street, Carlton South, 3053
Tel: (03) 9230 5700
Email: amwuvic@amwu.org.au

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).

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