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Thread: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Hi all,

    I have recently applied to IRYS boatbuilding course it last for two years and cost around 40k. My question mainly revolves with is it worth doing? Mainly because I want full time employment building wooden boats in the US and the internet isn't showing much results for full time work specially around wooden boat/ships. I don't want to find myself in debt and a course which has not got me anywhere.

    I have no problem working with class but would before to use the skills gained with employment.


    I really want to do the course just to learn the trade but dreams don't put meals on the table any advice on the matter would ease my mind.


    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh1230 View Post
    Hi all,

    I have recently applied to IRYS boatbuilding course it last for two years and cost around 40k. My question mainly revolves with is it worth doing? Mainly because I want full time employment building wooden boats in the US and the internet isn't showing much results for full time work specially around wooden boat/ships. I don't want to find myself in debt and a course which has not got me anywhere.

    I have no problem working with class but would before to use the skills gained with employment.


    I really want to do the course just to learn the trade but dreams don't put meals on the table any advice on the matter would ease my mind.


    Thanks
    You have discovered upon the sad truth.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Have you talked to the school about employment opportunities and placement upon successful completion of the program? That should be your first step.
    -Jim

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    In my humble opinion, garnered from thirty-five years in and around many boat- and ship-yards, a person with an in-depth knowledge of wooden boatbuilding is a valuable asset to any boat- or ship-building operation, regardless of material being used. If you want to work in traditional wood boat and yacht construction, opportunities are thin on the ground and shrinking. But the go-to guy in just about every fiberglass and metal boatbuilding operation I have ever been in has been educated and/or trained as a wooden boatbuilder, and is always in demand. Need patterns for a steel fishing boat set-up? Ask the wooden boatbuilder. Need a plug for a 'glass boat? Ask the wooden boatbuilder. Need lofting? Ask the wooden boatbuilder. In my observation, a wooden boatbuilder usually has a commanding general understanding of all aspects of boatbuilding and a specialist understanding in building in wood. A metal or 'glass boatbuilder (forgive any insult to these folks) is usually a specialist in only putting steel or 'glass together, and is lacking understanding of the "big picture". I would go for the education and let fate and the marketplace see where the career takes you.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    I think you should buy a new wooden boat with your 40G from a good builder with the stipulation that you will be part of the crew. After the boat is complete you can sell it and recoupe your investment. You will gain a lot of knowledge and have an opportunity to continue your employment if you perform well.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    The Pacific North West School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Hadlock WA. and The Wooden Boat Foundation in Port Townsend WA offer excellent courses in what you are seeking. They are college accredited schools.
    Jay
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Hey yeah I made sure to talk about that right from the start. It came down to them saying well yes and no.. It depends on what people want to hire or look for. It was all percentage talk and making the school sound better then reality. (like most university's do and then at the end you look for the job you educated yourself in and they say come back when you have 5 years experience ) They do offer externships which is a plus but it not full time employment which I wish to gain at the end.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    A lot of the skills you’ll be learning will be transferable to other areas in woodworking and the boating world, so ya it’s possibly worth it. A lot depends where you are in life, closer to the beginning or the end. If I may be so bold, why wooden boats? It’s quite a niche trade to want to enter, not that there’s anything wrong with a niche, I make my living in one that I stumbled into on my way to somewhere else, but it was the training in the something else that allowed me to take advantage of an opportunity. If you do take the course be on the lookout for possible other employment opportunities, the more you know the more you’ll see. Good luck and enjoy your time learning a new skill.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Kiddo, you are going to work for the rest of your life. Best thing is to do what you love. If you love it, then do it.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Find a boatbuilder and offer to work for him for nothing. Talk to Douglas Brooks or Geoff Kerr, they are in Vermont, and might have some ideas for you. At least after 2 years you will not be 40K in debt.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    That sounds like such an interesting program, but you are doing well to hesitate, because wooden boatbuilding is a dying profession that has shrunken to a tiny niche in a highly technological globalized economy. Your future employment will be at the whim of the tastes of rich people that could have their boats built in China. The poorer wooden boat aficionados build their boats themselves in their garage.

    Last year I spoke with the Master Boatbuilder of the Wooden Boat Museum in Winterton, Newfoundland. He will probably want to retire in the next 5 or 10 years. They have a paid apprenticeship program, which is still fairly new and probably government funded with strict eligibility requirements. But so far nobody who went through this program has wanted to be the new boatbuilder. A seasonal job in a small town of maybe 400 people. In the winter he lives in a bigger city, works on his own boats and builds furniture.

    There are some folks building traditional Newfoundland punts in their sheds and selling them for $3,000 or $5,000. That would mean 10+ boats per year for a living wage. Most likely these folks are supplementing their Employment Insurance payouts in the off-season from fishing. They learned boatbuilding from their older relatives and don't have student loans.

    Percentage probabilities are hard to plan your life on. If there is an 80% employment rate after graduation in your field, you'll have to hustle and schmooze with prospective employers to find out exactly what they want to not be one of the 20% that get left out. If there is a 10% chance of employment in your field you are totally playing the lottery. If you need to go into debt to finance the course, be extra cautious. Have you done exhaustive research to find financing options?

    Do any of the subjects touched upon in that course interest you for their own sake? Furniture? CAD? Project Management? If so would you be willing to take further training in those? Do you have anything else to fall back onto? Do you have any skills or assets that may convince a boatyard to pick you out of 10 grads and 10 grads from last year?

    I was more a dreamer than pragmatist and chose to become a field biologist, which is also a dwindling occupation. More and more of biology consists of throwing everything from rats to mushrooms into a blender for genetics studies. I consider myself really lucky to have found work in my field after only a few years of unpredictable short term contracts and even luckier still being employed after the last two rounds of government downsizing. Some really talented people got the axe, which swung about rather randomly but disproportionally hit new hires in temporary jobs.

    Unstable employment prospects are the new normal. For certainty, maybe being a police officer or a nurse would be a better bet, or some sort of career on the cutting edge of technology.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    I have been most impressed with The Landing School down in Portland Maine. MaryEllen's niece went there, got a good grounding, and found employment straight away. They have a broad curriculum and you can work your way through in stages. She did 'systems' and 'composits' so she could get a job and earn before going back for courses in various types of wooden building, design, and such. Expanding her skill set.

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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    All excellent posts. Much mature balanced erudite advice, and a joy to read.

    My own 2c... Not knowing much about you makes it hard to weigh up the correct decision. Do you romanticise about being an emaciated rag wearing master craftsman/woman? If that's it, go, except you can get there by other roads, actually finding a genuine time served wooden shipwright, and shoe horn your way in as an apprentice, get paid some, while learning.

    What else can you potentially bring to the table? Interest in... Hydrodynamics? History? Computer design? What are your other talents or penchant interests that could place you well in a competitive, dying, niche market when you get spat out of a fast track, and expensive boat building course?

    Beyond that I have nothing else to add, except to re read all the previous posts, they're excellent advice, not internet flim flam.

    The very best of luck, hope you stick around.

    M

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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Good thoughts and advice from those above. It's too bad that the school tuitions now are so steep. In the seventies, the Maine Apprenticeshop was tuition-free for the apprentices (I was one), which made for an easier time of it, but the specialized programs at the current schools, IYRS, The Landing School, etc. are without doubt far more wide ranging.

    If I were advising someone who had a 'general' interest in boats and boat building, or wasn't sure of where their interests might lie, I'd suggest signing up for a number of Woodenboat School courses sequentially and spend a month or more there. The number of experts and classmates you can meet while being exposed to different skills creates an opportunity to make possible entry-level employment contacts. Spending time on the water there has much to recommend it, too.

    Good luck whatever you decide.
    Last edited by rbgarr; 01-29-2018 at 11:47 AM.
    If I had a dollar for every girl who found me unattractive, eventually they would find me attractive.

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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    I don't know how the profession of boatbuilder is regulated in the USA. But getting into debt for becoming a wooden boatbuilder strikes me as odd.
    If it is an unregulated profession just go apprentice to someone and learn as much as you can from him. Learn something about business management in the evenings and if you have enough confidence go hang out your shingle.
    If it's a regulated profession with minimum training requirements and diplomas it should be pretty clear if the school offers the necessary qualifications.
    I would never go for a wooden boatbuilder only qualification in todays market if not specifically required by law. Even then I would take general boatbuilding first and wooden boatbuilding as add on speciality. Even if you do become a wooden boatbuilder please be aware that usually most of the work done is repairs, not building new boats.

    As an example in Germany boatbuilding is a regulated profession and you would need at least a journeymans exam in boatbuilding (3.5 years of school and work combined) for hiring, and a master of crafts degree for opening your own business (or be a ship construction engineer). And there is no "wooden boatbuilder" course there is just boatbuilding with two directions: building, fitting, renovating (the actual building part) and systems (electrics, electronics, plumbing, etc.).

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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    I would love to hear from a commercial boat builder on this. What do you look for when taking on a new employee. A formal degree, or calloused hands and experience? So find some boat builders, go ask them. They can tell you whether you are better off working for free for 6 months, or two years, or going to school for two years and spending $40,000 to do it. Of course there are other places to get hands on experience too. Not for profits and community organisations, maybe even museums, working on restoring wooden boats. I lean towards getting your hands dirty, getting a job, and then bit by bit getting formal training in various aspects of boat building, whether it's lofting, diesel mechanics or rigging.

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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    If I were going into a program as a young man, my objective would be "Self Employment", not working for someone else. You've seen that there is little business out there at the "yard" level. You would only get a small cut of what the boat owner was paying if you work for someone else. Small piece of small pie.... not a great prospect. Get the pie yourself....

    If you plan on being self employed, you will need to become a good business person, and salesperson. If you have a tremendous skill, but lack business and sales abilities, you will likely suffer the same fate as Artists and other Skilled people who are on their own. Under or Un Employment. You HAVE to spend time each day promoting yourself and tracking down work. If you are not up to that task, reconsider specializing in wooden boats only.

    mmd's advice above makes the most sense to me. Building in wood takes the mind into 3D, the world of compound curves and complex geometry. If you understand all of those concepts and can make them happen with your own two hands, then you clearly have a flexible and capable mind.

    Boatbuilding is just my hobby, but not for not trying. My Machinist Dad very quickly shot down my thinking out loud about wanting to go the the Landing School back in High School. "You better marry someone who has as great income...." My dreams were shattered, but Dad was right. I'm a Mechanical Engineer now so I can support a lifestyle to squeak in a "hobby" once in awhile compared to living hand to mouth like so many do.

    Of course a few bubble to the top and can make a living. But they would excel at ANYTHING in my opinion.
    Last edited by BrianM; 01-26-2018 at 07:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Quote Originally Posted by BOI View Post

    Unstable employment prospects are the new normal. For certainty, maybe being a police officer or a nurse would be a better bet, or some sort of career on the cutting edge of technology.
    all good sound advice from BOI and others here.

    from the flip side…I've been nursing for 37 years. i wanted to do a boatbuilding apprenticeship with my father in his commercial yard but dad thought best to start me off in life in a more traditional career role. how I wished i had not listened to him...just that once!
    ive never been overjoyed to be a nurse. its simply been financially rewarding for me whilst i pursue other interests which has been mostly been all about boats. I'm now finishing off my third yacht having acquired the skills informally from my father. Even at 55 yrs of age, i would kill to do a boatbuilding apprenticeship or work in a boatyard! Ive mulled over building small boats on spec, but even this prospect wont assure me of the income I've become accustomed to. The return just isn't in the marketplace.

    i envy your opportunity to start off doing something that you really want to do. if you can somehow afford the funds and the time, then do the apprenticeship. the skills and knowledge you acquire will not be wasted in your life and indeed, they will enrich you both professionally and personally.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Spend the money getting an education in computer science with emphasis on medical or statistical analysis. Build boats as hobby. The golden age of wooden or all boats is over. We all do this for fun. And those who would want a wooden boat in the future is fewer everyday.

    If you want to work with your hands. you might consider a trade like electrician or plumber. Go get a union apprentice job - within 5 years you’ll make over 100k or more a year. You’ll have to tools and pieces to build your own personal boats. You will get a free education while making good money, be debt free and have a job that will last a lifetime, able to raise a family and take the time off to enjoy your life when you are young. Also you will be able to work wherever and when ever you want.
    Last edited by Ted Hoppe; 01-26-2018 at 09:26 PM.
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    I think Ted has given excellent advice.

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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Unless you hate the work. Then it's not worth all the money in the world. And if you love building boats, and have some sort of capacity to run your own shop, you might be better off, even if worse off financially.

    I guess part part of this is about how you read the question. Is it, should I become a boatbuilder? Or is it, I want to become a boatbuilder, is a 2 year, $40,000 course the best way to start out?

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    "I want full time employment building wooden boats in the US"

    A reputable employer will know within two weeks if you are worth training up, so apply to the best first. The guys you work with will decide in the end. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty, and be a team player. Two weeks at a time and two weeks notice is a fair deal, for something you love to do. / Jim

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Michael has best answered the question that was asked. To fill in some details:

    In any career, there is training, and then there is „getting the job“. As you have pointed out with any college, a degree and a job offer are NOT the same thing.

    As someone who has hired people in the past, the first step is translating the resume into an interview. The pre-requisite to that is getting that resume to the right person.

    An advantage of formal training, whether IYRS, The Northwest School, the Landing School or whatever is that they have links to those people. Are those links worth $40K? Not sure. The German example, above, is not relevant to the US. The skills you need can be learned in many places, from your garage to the schools. The portfolio you will need to sell your resume is developed in those places. Some people are willing to take a risk on a new guy. Other guys would like to see where you‘ve been, because that in itself is a filter. Which is which? If I knew that...

    Oh, one more thing... and here is a lesson learned the hard way: The job you want may not be directly linked to what and where you studied. You may, for instance, study wooden boat building, but be putting food on the table afterwords installing wooden interiors in glass or aluminum boats... but then find yourself building something in your garage on the side. Then you take on a commission or two. From there, it‘s something else. You get there eventually. My boat, for instance, is documented with the Coast Guard as a home - built. It was built by a pretty famous guy who now runs his own shop in Maine. He‘s had some pretty big commissions, advertises with our host, and in some of the overseas magazines. But that‘s now. Then he was working glass in Connecticut, and took on a side job. It‘s not a direct path.
    Heute ist so ein schöne Tag...

  24. #24

    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    its a waste of money, buy some timber, rent a space buy some books and we can all show you how to build it if you need any extra advice
    Boat Designer. Boatbuilder

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh1230 View Post
    Hi all,

    I have recently applied to IRYS boatbuilding course it last for two years and cost around 40k. My question mainly revolves with is it worth doing? Mainly because I want full time employment building wooden boats in the US and the internet isn't showing much results for full time work specially around wooden boat/ships. I don't want to find myself in debt and a course which has not got me anywhere.

    I have no problem working with class but would before to use the skills gained with employment.


    I really want to do the course just to learn the trade but dreams don't put meals on the table any advice on the matter would ease my mind.


    Thanks
    You CAN make a living doing this in the US, I Do. I did not go to a formal long-term program, I volunteered and took applicable short-term classes on the specific skills I wanted to learn. If your main concern going forward is the large student debt of going to IYRS or similar then you are right to be concerned. You can expect to have a nice set of boatbuilding and woodworking skills when you leave such a school, but you will also have that debt and no certainty of employment. The employment is out there, you just have to look for it constantly (mostly online), and be ready to move if something you want comes up. The advise to perhaps consider taking a string of short term classes is one of the best suggestions I have seen in the responses above. If you were to take a year and fill it with that type of education and fill in the void time with boat/ship maint volunteering you can get started in the industry on a shoestring compared to that first $20k you would be paying IYRS. WBS will even let you work the kitchen and sleep in a tent at the campground all Summer in exchange for reduced price classes. Call and ask them about it. The WBS classes are a week long and a couple are 2 weeks, but the cover the full spectrum of the business except heavy timber ship construction . If you are bright enough and quick to learn you can get what you need in this way. Do not overlook the classes on related skills like metalwork and rigging. Of course you will be expected to be a competent carpenter. Despite the quips about "No straight Lines on a boat" you will be expected to know how to measure and cut accurately and use everything commonly found in a woodshop safely. If you need to pick these skills up first then I am sure you can find classes in the Pittsburg area. A class
    on running a chain saw and felling trees is also a good idea if you have no experience with this. In short, the budget boatwright's education founded upon short term classes and volunteer "on the job" training is a low cost, low commitment way to get to the same place. 10 week long classes should cost between 10 and 15 thousand. If I lived in the Pittsburg area I would be looking at the Flagship Niagara program in Erie. You can lean traditional rigging, square rig seamanship, and woodenship maint there in exchange for your time. The personal connections you make will probably open doors for you there or elsewhere. Besides, you can start using your volunteer time on your resume.

    I work with some guys who went to IYRS and the Apprenticeshop. they are competent, certainly. But that does not mean that they have certain reserved skills or presteige associated with them. How you perform on the job is how people judge you (including unpaid volunteer work). IYRS grads do seem to belong to a network of alums who are quick to collaborate with or hire other veterans of that program, which is obviously a bonus, I'm just not sure it is worth the tuition in the long run.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do
    Last edited by Mike Fink; 01-28-2018 at 06:59 PM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    It you really want this - How about just going to work for a a highly respected boat builder. There are lots of folks here on this forum that can get you an introduction. Plan on making a move to the best opportunity. There are some really great builders who have a good book of business and would love to have a passionate apprentice to teach not only the business of building but how the relationships of how they work. Don't ever work for free - getting payed for your efforts creates the respect and admiration you need to move forward. Always work harder and smarter than your current pay and you will be that builder and man you want to be.

    Start today day by reaching out. In a few weeks you will be moving to a new place, learning, working building and learning the business. A full spring and summer of building can tell you much about this profession and industry. If it doesn't work for you - you can have a backup plan of another education and/or professional opportunity come September. It can be a wonderful and exciting time. Good luck

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    I suppose it is a certainty that there will be advise from all quarters and that some of it will be conflicting in nature. Ultimately it is the job of the OP to sift through this advise and make a semi informed decision based upon his own best interests. I will say that advising people to initiate careers into highly technical professions like computer science without any knowledge of the OP's aptitude for such work and in obvious conflict with his stated interests would seem to be unhelpful. For the record, High Tech is a dying industry for Americans. It is no longer a gravy train for thousands of semi skilled workers because that same work can be done by foreign employees or contractors in India, China, and Chile for pennies compared to what it costs to employ an American. Any work that can be done on a computer in an office or at home can be just as easily done overseas by a very cheap, highly trained and skilled foreigner. An American aspiring to such work today will need to have a BS in Computer science and know multiple programming languages as a matter of course before he will be even considered as a n entry level applicant with the foreign competition. What is the average cost of a 4 years BS degree in CS going for at the diploma mills these days? I bet it is more than $40k.

    As to the advise about not working for free, I advise the OP to consider this, the point of taking the classes at IYRS or anywhere is to gain the experience you lack that will make you employable. In exchange for being instructed in the arts of carpentry and boatbuilding and leaving with the experience you are paying them tuition, Obviously. What volunteering (working for free), does for you is gives you similar exposure and experience without requiring you to pay with money. You pay them with your time. IF anyone thinks there is anything degrading in performing volunteer work or that these institutions do not appreciate volunteer labor, I would advise you to look closely at Morgan Volunteer's thread about Mystic Seaport shipyard volunteers and reconsider. Mystic has about 1000 regular volunteers and would probably not be able to operate if it were not for the millions of dollars worth of effort they provide. Mystic knows this and I can assure you there is no looking down on the volunteers by anyone on the Mystic payroll. What volunteering did for me was it allowed me to work on pinky Schooners in Harold Burnham's yard and then use that experience to leverage permanent paid employment. I fail to see how time spent there was wasted effort simply because there was no money exchanged. You will also find that you will be much more likely to gain that kind of access and experience by joining an established volunteer program such as the one at Mystic rather than approaching shipwrights and boatbuilders individually as advised. While that might work, my expectation would be that without any experience at all you are a complete unknown to them and a possible liability. Enthusiasm alone will probably not be enough to convince them to take a chance on you. The established volunteer program on the other hand is set up with the amateur newcomer in mind. There is probably insurance in place to cover you and the institution while you are working and there is always someone experienced and responsible to lead and direct you as you learn and contribute to the program. Your reliably showing up over time and demonstrated enthusiasm and shared commitment will make you stand out and get you the better and more challenging work assignments. Doing this work over a period of time, even for free, shows a dedication to making it a professional calling and eliminates most or all of the unknowns about you that stand in the way of getting hired professionally. Think about it. The other thing is you might decide after a while that it is not for you. You can stop volunteering at any time and never go back and do something else with your life. No need to negotiate getting some of your tuition back since it cost you nothing but time in the first place.
    Need some more examples? consider the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild, also in Pennsylvania. A wooden tugboat and an old Portuguese Grand Banks Barkentine to work and learn on. Free instruction in working aloft, rigging, sailing, dory building, welding, blacksmithing, etc. I know people who drive 14 hours from where they live to be involved with these programs, think they might be on to something? The PSPG drydocked their vessels 2 years ago and performed many advanced shipyard repairs such as steam bending and installing new hull planks above and below the waterline. The volunteers were central to these efforts, though lead by a paid shipwright team. You will not get that kind of exposure to heavy timber ship repairs at the expensive boatbuilding schools.
    Last edited by Mike Fink; 01-29-2018 at 01:08 PM.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Mike, all your points are valid, and I do not seek to convince the hopeful otherwise. My reason for advocating formal training in an educational institute is that, assuming that one selects the correct institution, the student will learn not only the hands-on woodworking and boatbuilding skills, but also will be exposed to the subjects that are rarely available to apprentices or volunteers at restoration projects or small shops, such as lofting, engine installation, marine piping, electrical systems, etc. No, they won't teach you to be a marine electrician or loftsman in a forty-hour course within the curriculum, but you will know the basics so that you are not completely ignorant when the boss asks you to help the journeyman. They will also teach you a smattering of stability, weights & centres, blueprint reading, and maybe even a bit about the business of administering a boatshop. In other words, the student at a recognized boatbuilding school will be exposed to more of the requisite subjects about boatbuilding in two years than they would likely be exposed to in a small shop or restoration project in five years.They will not be as skilled at woodworking as they would in a volunteer or apprentice environment because they would not have had the hands-on time, but they have a broader base of general knowledge about boatbuilding, and that is valuable to the boatyard manager, who needs to know that the junior guy can be teamed with a journeyman in just about any task and be productive there.

    I am pleased to hear that the volunteer path to being a journeyman boatbuilder has worked well for you, and I am sure that your skills are both excellent and hard-won. But I would respectfully submit that yours is not the only path, and that there are advantages and disadvantages to either path to a boatbuilding career.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  29. #29
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    Jan 2018
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    pittsburgh, pa
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    6

    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    O wow so much advice here let me get replying! its much appreciated!

  30. #30
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    Jan 2018
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    pittsburgh, pa
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    I have been most impressed with The Landing School down in Portland Maine. MaryEllen's niece went there, got a good grounding, and found employment straight away. They have a broad curriculum and you can work your way through in stages. She did 'systems' and 'composits' so she could get a job and earn before going back for courses in various types of wooden building, design, and such. Expanding her skill set.
    Ill look into there courses it makes more sense I guess to work around the stages would be beneficial.

  31. #31
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    Sep 2007
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    1,123

    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Employers can not have volunteers work for them. That is s road straight to the Dept of Labor among other things.

  32. #32
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    Jan 2018
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    pittsburgh, pa
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    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Fink View Post
    You CAN make a living doing this in the US, I Do. I did not go to a formal long-term program, I volunteered and took applicable short-term classes on the specific skills I wanted to learn. If your main concern going forward is the large student debt of going to IYRS or similar then you are right to be concerned. You can expect to have a nice set of boatbuilding and woodworking skills when you leave such a school, but you will also have that debt and no certainty of employment. The employment is out there, you just have to look for it constantly (mostly online), and be ready to move if something you want comes up. The advise to perhaps consider taking a string of short term classes is one of the best suggestions I have seen in the responses above. If you were to take a year and fill it with that type of education and fill in the void time with boat/ship maint volunteering you can get started in the industry on a shoestring compared to that first $20k you would be paying IYRS. WBS will even let you work the kitchen and sleep in a tent at the campground all Summer in exchange for reduced price classes. Call and ask them about it. The WBS classes are a week long and a couple are 2 weeks, but the cover the full spectrum of the business except heavy timber ship construction . If you are bright enough and quick to learn you can get what you need in this way. Do not overlook the classes on related skills like metalwork and rigging. Of course you will be expected to be a competent carpenter. Despite the quips about "No straight Lines on a boat" you will be expected to know how to measure and cut accurately and use everything commonly found in a woodshop safely. If you need to pick these skills up first then I am sure you can find classes in the Pittsburg area. A class
    on running a chain saw and felling trees is also a good idea if you have no experience with this. In short, the budget boatwright's education founded upon short term classes and volunteer "on the job" training is a low cost, low commitment way to get to the same place. 10 week long classes should cost between 10 and 15 thousand. If I lived in the Pittsburg area I would be looking at the Flagship Niagara program in Erie. You can lean traditional rigging, square rig seamanship, and woodenship maint there in exchange for your time. The personal connections you make will probably open doors for you there or elsewhere. Besides, you can start using your volunteer time on your resume.

    I work with some guys who went to IYRS and the Apprenticeshop. they are competent, certainly. But that does not mean that they have certain reserved skills or presteige associated with them. How you perform on the job is how people judge you (including unpaid volunteer work). IYRS grads do seem to belong to a network of alums who are quick to collaborate with or hire other veterans of that program, which is obviously a bonus, I'm just not sure it is worth the tuition in the long run.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do
    This is excellent! ill keep this in mind. Specially the Rigging part in Erie ill be going up there soon to explore so will gander and potter about.

  33. #33
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Maysville Ky USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    Mike, all your points are valid, and I do not seek to convince the hopeful otherwise. My reason for advocating formal training in an educational institute is that, assuming that one selects the correct institution, the student will learn not only the hands-on woodworking and boatbuilding skills, but also will be exposed to the subjects that are rarely available to apprentices or volunteers at restoration projects or small shops, such as lofting, engine installation, marine piping, electrical systems, etc. No, they won't teach you to be a marine electrician or loftsman in a forty-hour course within the curriculum, but you will know the basics so that you are not completely ignorant when the boss asks you to help the journeyman. They will also teach you a smattering of stability, weights & centres, blueprint reading, and maybe even a bit about the business of administering a boatshop. In other words, the student at a recognized boatbuilding school will be exposed to more of the requisite subjects about boatbuilding in two years than they would likely be exposed to in a small shop or restoration project in five years.They will not be as skilled at woodworking as they would in a volunteer or apprentice environment because they would not have had the hands-on time, but they have a broader base of general knowledge about boatbuilding, and that is valuable to the boatyard manager, who needs to know that the junior guy can be teamed with a journeyman in just about any task and be productive there.

    I am pleased to hear that the volunteer path to being a journeyman boatbuilder has worked well for you, and I am sure that your skills are both excellent and hard-won. But I would respectfully submit that yours is not the only path, and that there are advantages and disadvantages to either path to a boatbuilding career.
    I have no disagreement at all MMD. My comments were really not directed at your advise. I certainly agree that the formal program is probably the best route if you can afford it, if not? Well there are other options. It does require a commitment up front in time and money that volunteering does not, which might be a disadvantage if things don't work out. Regardless of the path chosen, it is an ongoing learning process and formal classes are certainly central to that. I like them and take them as often as I am able and I don't mind taking the same subject twice since I learn from repetition and can always come away from a class better then I went in. Employers also like people who seek out professional development education on their own time and expense, it shows that commitment to getting better again. if you are lacking in something like lofting or joinery, go get it.

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    pittsburgh, pa
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    6

    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Hoppe View Post
    Spend the money getting an education in computer science with emphasis on medical or statistical analysis. Build boats as hobby. The golden age of wooden or all boats is over. We all do this for fun. And those who would want a wooden boat in the future is fewer everyday.

    If you want to work with your hands. you might consider a trade like electrician or plumber. Go get a union apprentice job - within 5 years you’ll make over 100k or more a year. You’ll have to tools and pieces to build your own personal boats. You will get a free education while making good money, be debt free and have a job that will last a lifetime, able to raise a family and take the time off to enjoy your life when you are young. Also you will be able to work wherever and when ever you want.
    worth the read thanks Ted.

  35. #35

    Default Re: Is it worth doing a 2 year wooden boatbuiling course?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    The Pacific North West School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Hadlock WA. and The Wooden Boat Foundation in Port Townsend WA offer excellent courses in what you are seeking. They are college accredited schools.
    Jay
    https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl
    http://nwmaritime.org/about/history/
    yep
    Boat Designer. Boatbuilder

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