Naval architecture is an excellent career whereby engineers design, develop and maintain watercraft and vessels.
Naval architects enjoy interesting work, numerous opportunities for specialization, good job stability, and high salaries.
Prospective students should read this short guide to learn more about their academic paths and careers.
Naval architecture is a great career choice for those who wish to pursue engineering, enjoy technical design, and appreciate watercraft.
Students may appreciate that the academic path toward becoming a naval architect is relatively short, with most entry-level positions requiring an undergraduate degree.
While the job market for naval architecture is small, graduates can find plenty of different jobs within the industry.
Likewise, since there is relatively little job growth, most naval architects keep their job for long periods.
Accordingly, career seekers can enjoy job stability and security.
As the annual average salary is $93,370 reaching $157,901, naval achievers can also benefit from sufficient income.
Naval architecture is a challenging academic program, as it is a branch of engineering.
Students must study tough subjects such as computer science, physics, probability and statistics, differential equations, calculus, and engineering as applied to marine vessels.
Although many students would find these classes hard, students with proficiency in math and logic will find them interesting.
Additionally, students only need to take a three-year undergraduate program before entering their careers.
Many naval architects will enjoy benefits such as:
- Working on water crafts of choice, including merchant ships, passenger ships, sports and leisure crafts, submarines, and warships.
- Balancing creativity (architecture) and technical understanding (engineering) in one profession.
- Choosing to work in a preferred domain such as design, construction, operations, or marketing.
- Obtaining high salaries and excellent benefits
- Enjoying job stability
- Advancing career through further education and experience
- Traveling opportunities depending on the employer
However, naval architects may also experience cons, including:
- Finding a job may be difficult as the job market is smaller than average
- Obtaining a job may be competitive
- Studying naval architecture is difficult
Naval architects are necessary for any company or organization creating or manufacturing boats, ships, submarines, or other watercraft.
Despite this, the number of job openings is relatively low at only 400 annually.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the industry only to grow 4% before 2030.
Since this is the case, students may wish to pursue a graduate degree, gain significant experience, specialize in a specific naval or marine domain, or earn awards or achievements to stand out to employers.
Naval architecture has an enormous scope, encompassing various domains and professions.
Common domains include:
- Oil, gas, mineral, and metal extraction
- Dredging and water environment reshaping
- Sports and recreation
- Exploration and analysis
- Environmental and wildlife protection
- Warfare and Defense
Popular professions include:
- Naval Engineer
- Ship Construction Engineer
- Submarine Construction Engineer
- Marine Engineer
- Software Engineer
- Hardware Engineer
- Automation Engineer
- Structural Engineer
- Test Engineer
Naval architecture is important for developing efficient and safe watercraft.
Applying design and engineering principles to structures meant to float or submerge into the water can be challenging.
Naval architects must learn about the elements involved in rivers, lakes, and oceans.
They must also understand how watercraft adapt and withstand water pressure, changing water conditions, water movements, and other water dynamics.
Additionally, they must be able to discern which aspects of watercraft design are at play.
This way, they can advance naval architecture or marine engineering considerably during their career.
Naval architects must earn an undergraduate degree in naval architecture or marine engineering, averaging three years in length.
After acquiring their Bachelor’s, they can take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, allowing them to practice as a naval architect.
If they decide to pursue higher academia, they may take two years to earn a Master’s degree and four additional years for a Ph.D.
After four years of work experience, they can also take the Principles of Engineering (PE) exam.
Successful passing of the PE exam means they are a professional, liscenced engineer.
Naval architecture graduates should know and understand:
- Computer Programming
- Machine Drawing
- Engineering Mechanics
- Electrical Engineering
- Fluid Mechanics
- Material Science
- Structure Analysis
- Ship Structures
- Ship Stability
- Ship Systems and Controls
- Ship Design
- Ship Production
- CAD Design and Drafting
Naval architects should also develop the following skills:
- Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking
36% of naval architects work in professional, scientific, and technical domains, while 16% work for the federal government and 5% for water transportation.
Similar to most engineers, naval architects spend the majority of their time in offices where they can easily use various virtual tools and communicate with teammates for projects.
They may dedicate little time to visiting sites to view, test, or analyze watercraft.
Naval architecture is a branch of engineering, however, it encompasses many different engineering domains.
Naval architecture students must study mechanical, electrical, software, and marine engineering.
Additionally, they must take mathematics, science, and computer science classes.
Upon graduating, employers expect naval architects to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, certifying them as practicing engineers.
Naval architecture focuses on the design of watercraft, while marine engineering centers on specific systems of ships.
However, naval architecture also goes by the name naval engineering, solidifying that it also considers engineering elements.
Furthermore, despite the difference between the two career paths, many universities combine the two for one degree: BS in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.
Students interested in designing and building watercraft will be happy to learn there is a university program dedicated directly to the trade.
It is a difficult but short, academic program leading to many excellent job options, long careers, and high salaries.