Learn boatbuilding in Portsmouth

1 Year Course

Do I need any qualifications or prior experience to learn boatbuilding?

The simple answer is No

We do not require any previous experience; many of our new students have never undertaken any kind of boat building. A background in practical, problem solving hobbies or jobs will be helpful, but the most important attributes are a willingness to learn, an ability to work hard and an enthusiasm for boats and the sea.

We begin by developing your skills with wood

Your first twelve weeks are spent in the Joinery Shop, during which time you will hone the tool handling and craftsmanship skills you will need in the boatbuilding world. You will learn about timber as you cut, shape and join wood to make your own hand tools and dovetail tool box.

When you are ready, you’ll start work in the boatyard.

Boathouse 4, where the college is based, was renovated in 2015 to provide a unrivalled training facility. On completion of your Joinery course, your cohort will move out onto the main shop floor, which houses an extensive collection of new build craft and heritage vessels on which to develop your boatbuilding skills.

How will I learn?

This is a practical, hands-on course

Elements of boatbuilding theory are taught in our classroom, but the vast majority of course content is delivered through the demonstration and practical application of key techniques on real boats. 

What qualifications do you offer?

Our qualification is internationally recognised

Students successfully completing the 1 year course are awarded the IBTC Portsmouth Practical Diploma in Wooden Boatbuilding. The IBTC Portsmouth Diploma is a highly desirable and internationally recognised qualification in traditional wooden boatbuilding and restoration techniques. 

What jobs does the course lead to?

The valuable, transferable skills we teach can be used in many different ways

Previous students are currently restoring historic vessels, working in private boatyards, fitting out superyachts around the world and making fine furniture. Several graduates now run their own boatbuilding and woodworking businesses. 

The College is regularly contacted by employers looking for skilled craftspeople to fill a variety of vacancies at entry level and above. We are always delighted to be able to recommend recent students for these jobs. 

Do you have accommodation on site?

Not at present

The college does not have its own accommodation for students, although it is something we are looking at for the future. Portsmouth is a University city with a large property rental market and finding suitable accommodation is usually straightforward. We are always happy to provide advice and suggestions. 

What is the course cost?

Details of the course pricing structure can be found in our Course Brochure



The next full time 1 year Boatbuilding Course will begin on Monday 5th September 2022.

The College offers two intakes a year, in late February or early March and early September, with a maximum of 12 places available in each intake. 

The course is full-time. The usual hours are 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. There are 5 set holiday weeks spaced through the year.


What to do next ?

Have questions?

Great! Get in touch and we'll be happy to answer them for you.  


Come to an Open Afternoon

Explore your opportunities at IBTC Portsmouth. Meet tutors, staff and students on a fun and information-packed afternoon.


Fund your course

Bursaries and external funding can assist with course costs. Find out more.


Thank you to our partners and supporters

Heritage Lottery Fund - Lottery Funded
Supported by the Regional Growth Fund
Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage
Shipshape Network - The Solent
Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust
National Historic Ships UK