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Fencer

Kaihanga Taiapa

Alternative titles for this job

Fencers construct and repair fences, walls and gates.

Pay

Fencers usually earn

$17-$28 per hour

Source: Fencing Contractors Association.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a fencer are good due to high demand for rural fencing.

Pay

Pay for fencers varies depending on skills and experience.

  • A new entrant usually earns $17 an hour.
  • Average pay for skilled fencers is about $20 to $23 an hour.
  • The highest pay rate for fencers with managerial responsibilities is about $28 an hour.
  • Fencing contractors usually charge clients between $42 and $50 an hour, but must recoup expenses from this.

Sources: Fencing Contractors Association. 

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

What you will do

Fencers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss fencing needs with customers
  • estimate and quote prices for customers
  • lay out fence lines
  • dig fence post holes and position posts
  • mix and pour concrete
  • construct fences made of boards, wire, chain links, posts or other materials
  • assemble gates and hang them in position
  • build barriers, security fences, retaining walls, vineyard trellises, and other types of fences and walls
  • run their own businesses.

Skills and knowledge

Fencers need to have:

  • knowledge of fencing materials, designs and styles
  • knowledge of costing methods and business management
  • knowledge of how to use power tools and machinery
  • practical skills such as carpentry, and the ability to make concrete.

Working conditions

Fencers:

  • often work irregular and long hours, depending on the type of fence and its location. Some long hours and weekend work may be necessary
  • work on farms or in towns
  • work in all but the most extreme weather conditions
  • may travel to parks, private homes, or industrial or commercial sites, and may work in very remote rural areas.

What's the job really like?

Allan McLean

Allan McLean

Fencer

A mix of sweat and skill

For Manawatu fencer Allan McLean, erecting a good, stable, visually appealing fence is a craft – a mix of sweat and skill. "There's a huge difference between a good-looking fence and a bad one. It's to do with how it flows with the contour of the land. If it's all jagged and up and down, it doesn't actually look that good to the eye," he says.

Keenness and ability to learn quickly important for aspiring fencers

"To become a good fencer you have to know both the theory and practical side of fencing. Books or courses are available to explain the theories and the technical terms. Like, if you're on hill country, you need to foot a post [attach a length of wood to the bottom of a post to prevent it lifting out of the ground] and learn how to hold strainers [larger posts at the end of fencelines] in the ground, so there's quite a bit to it. When it comes to the practical side, it'll take a decent month or so to learn how to work with the wire.

"I think the main attributes you need to start fencing are a keenness to do the work and an ability to learn quickly. You also need to be someone who doesn't mind getting the odd blister."

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a fencer.

However, some employers prefer you have completed, or will support you to work towards, a National Certificate in Fencing or a National Certificate in Agriculture (Level 2), which has a fencing component.

National certificates in agriculture are overseen by the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO) and involve theory work and on-the-job training.

National certificates in fencing are offered at Level 2, 3 and 4 by training providers throughout the country.

Secondary education

Useful subjects for fencers include maths, woodwork or workshop technology, and English.

Personal requirements

Fencers need to be:

  • quick and efficient
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to do maths calculations
  • well organised
  • safety-conscious.

Useful experience

Useful experience for fencers includes:

  • labouring
  • building and construction work
  • farming
  • work with hand tools or welding equipment.

Many fencers start their career as casual labourers on fencing crews as a way of getting experience.

Physical requirements

Fencers need to have excellent fitness and health, and must be strong. A lot of lifting and moving may be required on some fencing jobs.

Find out more about training

Fencing Contractors Association of New Zealand
0508 432 269 - info@fencingcontractors.co.nz - www.fcanz.co.nz
Primary Industry Training Organisation
0800 208020 - info@primaryito.ac.nz - www.primaryito.ac.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Many employers are keen to train beginner fencers with little or no experience and help them get qualifications.

Demand for fencers largely depends on the state of the wider agricultural industry – when farmers are doing well, they tend to invest more in maintenance, such as repairing fences.

Land use change creating demand for fencers

Much of the demand for rural fencers has been due to farm redevelopment as a result of land ownership change, and fencing maintenance. Major roading developments around the country have affected rural land ownership, with many owners moving to new property and creating fenced paddocks to suit their own requirements.      

Opportunities are also reasonably good for people installing residential and commercial fences, as the building industry picks up.

Increase your chances of finding work 

Vacancies have been rising steadily since 2010, and you can further increase your chances of getting work by showing an employer that you are: 

  • physically active and have a positive attitude
  • practical and hands-on, with skills gained through farming or landscaping experience for example
  • able to understand basic health and safety practice.   

Many fencers work for contractors or are self-employed

Most fencers are employed by fencing contractors, whose clients may include:

  • farmers
  • grape and fruit growers
  • lifestyle block, and home and property owners 
  • building and construction firms.

Some fencers are self-employed.

Sources

  • Fuller, S, president, Fencing Contractors Association, Careers New Zealand interview, January 2015.  
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2014. 

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

Progression and specialisations

Fencers can progress to supervisory roles, or become self-employed fencing contractors. 

Fencers usually specialise in either farm fencing (rural), or commercial and residential (urban) fencing, although some do both.

Their skills can also be a good stepping stone to other careers such as building and landscape gardening. 

Ollie Wheeler putting up a wire fence on a farm

Ollie Wheeler constructing a wire fence to keep stock from roaming

Last updated 22 March 2019