Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Welders and Metal Workers

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Prospects for welders and metal workers are good. Many existing workers are nearing retirement. There are also opportunities for welders and metal workers in the manufacturing industry throughout the country.

How to become a welder or metal worker

What they do

Welders make, join and repair metal parts for machinery and equipment using welding techniques. Metal workers work with moulds, hammers and other tools to make and repair metal articles.

Welders and metal workers can work for businesses in a wide range of industries, including:

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

Their tasks may include:

  • studying blueprints, drawings and specifications to determine job requirements
  • selecting, cleaning and preparing metal stock
  • cutting marked-out metal sections and shapes using hand tools, flame cutting torches and metal cutting machines
  • shaping and bending metal sections and pipes using hand and machine tools, and by heating and hammering
  • aligning parts to be joined using hand tools and measuring instruments
  • joining metal sections using various welding techniques, bolting and riveting
  • examining welds for width of bead, penetration and precision
  • finishing products by cleaning, polishing, filing and bathing in acidic solutions
  • cleaning and smoothing welds by filing, chiselling and grinding.

Qualifications needed

To become a fully qualified welder you need to complete a National Certificate in Welding (Level 3), or a similar qualification. This can be completed by studying full-time for six to nine months, or as part of an industry traineeship where skills are learnt on the job. A pre-apprenticeship course may be useful for gaining a welding traineeship.

Welders who have completed the Level 3 qualification can go on to complete the National Certificate in Welding (Level 4), which covers more complex welding skills and techniques.

Metal workers need a National Certificate in Metal Casting (Technology) (Level 4). This is completed through an apprenticeship.

The New Zealand Apprenticeships scheme is available for anyone over the age of 16, and is subsidised by the government. More information on the scheme is on the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) website.


Cost of study

National Certificate in Welding (Level 3)
$4, 00 over 18 to 26 weeks

Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services:

Where to study

Welding and metal working courses are available throughout the country, but you will most likely study in a region close to where you are completing your apprenticeship.

Compentenz is the Industry Training Organisation that deals with welders and metal workers. More information about how to become an apprentice is available on their website.


Completed qualifications

The number of students completing boiler-making and welding qualifications fell to around 270 in 2017.

Qualification completions chart


Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


In 2019, the average income for welders and metal workers was estimated to be around $52,600.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Welders’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
6,024 5,958 7,200 8,340
  -0.2% 3.2% 2.5%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Mechanical Engineering Trades Workers”.

The number of welders and metal workers in employment has declined over the last few years. Employment numbers are expected rise stronglyly until 2023 and at a slower, rate until 2028.

Employment chart


Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
10% 39% 3% 83% $60,000

Source: Tertiary Education Commission
*Three years after completion of L4 Certificate - Mechanical & Industrial Engineer & Tech.

Three years after completing a certificate in mechanical and industrial engineering, most graduates are in employment and some are overseas.  The median salary two years after graduation was around $60,000.

Welders are on Immigration New Zealand's Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List (CISSL) for the Canterbury region. If a job appears on the list, it means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in the role to come and work in New Zealand. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for structural steel and welding trades workers has increased much more than average since 2010.

Jobs advertised chart


Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Welding and metal working vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Welders can advance into supervisory roles, take up training responsibilities, or start up their own business.

They may also specialise in a particular industry, such as building and construction, oil and gas, or marine construction.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level welders.

  • Andoniser
  • Blacksmith
  • Boilermaker-Welder
  • Electroplater
  • Fabrication Engineer
  • Fabrication Welder
  • Fabricator
  • Fitter
  • Fitter-Welder
  • Galvaniser
  • Mechanical Engineering Technician
  • Metal Casting Trades Worker
  • Metal Fabricator-Welder
  • Pressure Welder
  • Structural Steel Trades Worker
  • Toolmaker

Other information


More information on welders and metal workers is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of welders and metal workers has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

3221 – Metal Casting, Forging and Finishing Trades Workers
322311 – Metal Fabricator
322313 – Welder (First Class) (Aus) / Welder (NZ)
3232 – Metal Fitters and Machinists
3234 – Toolmakers and Engineering Patternmakers