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Fabrication Engineer

Mataaro Piharoa

Alternative titles for this job

Fabrication engineers make, install and repair metal products such as vents, handrails, boilers, aircraft and boat parts, or beams and girders for construction projects. 


Fabrication engineers usually earn

$60K-$70K per year

Experienced fabrication engineers can earn

$80K or more per year

Source: Seek and Trade Me, 2023

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a fabrication engineer are average for those wanting to enter the role but good for those with experience.


Pay for fabrication engineers varies depending on experience and specialisation.

  • Apprentice fabrication engineers may start on the training minimum wage, with their pay increasing as they gain experience and unit standards.
  • Fabrication engineers usually earn $60,000 to $70,000 a year.
  • Senior fabrication engineers, or those working as supervisors can earn $80,000 or more.

Sources: research, 2023; Seek, 2023; and Trade Me, 2023.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Fabrication engineers may do some or all of the following:

  • examine drawings and other instructions for jobs
  • draw patterns and cut them out of different metals
  • drill and punch holes in the metal for screws, bolts or rivets
  • fold, form and shape metal
  • join and weld metal pieces
  • polish and check the quality of the finished product.

Skills and knowledge

Fabrication engineers need to have:

  • knowledge of metals and their properties
  • knowledge of how to use and care for their equipment
  • understanding of safety procedures
  • technical skills for drawing and interpreting plans
  • welding skills.

Working conditions

Fabrication engineers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work shifts, or have to do overtime during busy periods
  • work in workshops and factories and may also work in commercial buildings or private homes when installing their products
  • work in conditions that may be dirty and noisy.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a fabrication engineer. However, some employers prefer you to have a qualification. 

However, to become a qualified fabrication engineer you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain either a:

  • New Zealand Certificate in Engineering - Fabrication (Level 4), which is the new qualification 
  • or a National Certificate in Engineering - Fabrication (Level 4), which is being replaced by the New Zealand Certificate.

For this certificate, you choose to specialise in light fabrication, heavy fabrication, or steel construction.

Industry training organisation Competenz oversees fabrication engineer apprenticeships. 

A driver's licence may also be useful.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a fabrication engineer. However, NCEA Level 2 maths, physics, English and technology are useful.

 For Year 11 to 13 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.

These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

Personal requirements

Fabrication engineers need to be:

  • practical
  • patient and accurate
  • good at making calculations and working out formulae
  • able to follow instructions.

Maths skills are important because you need to know your numbers for working out calculations.

Matthew Elliott

Sheet Metal Engineer

Useful experience

Useful experience for fabrication engineers includes:

  • welding work
  • work in an engineering workshop
  • any job working with metals and tools.

Physical requirements

Fabrication engineers need to have strong arms and hands, as heavy lifting may be required.

Find out more about training

0800 526 1800 - -
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Chances of getting a job as a fabrication engineer are average for those wanting to enter the role.

Employers prefer to employ experienced workers, who have a good chance of getting work because:

  • not enough people are being trained to meet the demand for workers
  • trained workers are leaving New Zealand to work overseas for higher pay rates
  • New Zealand manufacturers need workers to build machinery components for export.

Some types of fabrication engineers in high demand

The jobs of metal fabricator and sheetmetal trades worker appear on Immigration New Zealand’s regional skill shortage list. Metal fabricator also appears on Immigration New Zealand's construction and infrastructure skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled fabrication engineers from overseas to work in New Zealand.

According to the Census, 4,206 fabrication engineers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Types of employer varied

Fabrication engineers work in a range of industries, including:

  • building and construction
  • automotive engineering
  • marine construction
  • machinery and equipment manufacturing
  • specialised craft and equipment making and repair.

Ten percent of fabrication engineers are self-employed.


  • Book, S, 'Manufacturing Bounces Back in September', National Business Review, 13 October 2016.
  • Competenz website, accessed March 2017, (
  • Hartley, B, engineering tutor, Southern Institute of Technology, Careers New Zealand interview, March 2017.
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Regional Skill Shortage List', 27 May 2019, (
  • Manning, B, 'Gloombusters: Bringing Manufacturing Home', New Zealand Herald, 6 August 2015.
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Fabrication engineers can progress to work in supervisory roles, or start up their own business.
Fabrication engineers usually specialise in roles such as:
Light Fabrication Engineer
Light fabrication engineers work with light metals such as stainless steel and aluminium to make or repair a variety of metal products, such as vents, handrails and boat parts.
Heavy Fabrication Engineer
Heavy fabrication engineers work with steel and other heavy metals to make or repair metal products such as boilers, hot water tanks and components for building and construction.
Steel Construction Engineer
Steel construction engineers manufacture and install steel components such as beams and girders for structures and civil engineering projects.
A man uses a metal lathe in a workshop

Fabrication engineers make and install metal products

Last updated 18 December 2023