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Naval Architect Career

Career Description

Naval Architects design, develop, and evaluate the operation of marine vessels, ship machinery, and related equipment, such as power supply and propulsion systems.

Common Work Tasks

  • Design and supervise the construction of everything from aircraft carriers to submarines, and from sailboats to tankers
  • Work on the propulsion, steering, and other systems of ships
  • Apply knowledge from a range of fields to the entire design and production process of all water vehicles
  • Prepare, or direct the preparation of, product or system layouts and detailed drawings and schematics
  • Inspect marine equipment and machinery to draw up work requests and job specifications
  • Conduct analytical, environmental, operational, or performance studies to develop designs for products, such as marine engines, equipment, and structures
  • Design and oversee testing, installation, and repair of marine apparatus and equipment
  • Prepare plans, estimates, design and construction schedules, and contract specifications, including any special provisions
  • Investigate and observe tests on machinery and equipment for compliance with standards

Other Job Titles

Naval Architects are also known by other titles, including:

  • Marine Engineers
  • Ship Engineers
  • Naval Architects
  • Marine Architects

Education, Training, and Experience

Education and Training
In most States, the professional degree in architecture must be from one of the 114 schools of architecture that have degree programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. However, State architectural registration boards set their own standards, so graduation from a non-accredited program may meet the educational requirement for licensing in a few States.

Three types of professional degrees in architecture are available: a 5-year bachelor’s degree, which is most common and is intended for students with no previous architectural training; a 2-year master’s degree for students with an undergraduate degree in architecture or a related area; and a 3- or 4-year master’s degree for students with a degree in another discipline.

All State architectural registration boards require architecture graduates to complete a training period—usually at least 3 years—before they may sit for the licensing exam. Every State, with the exception of Arizona, has adopted the training standards established by the Intern Development Program, a branch of the American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). These standards stipulate broad training under the supervision of a licensed architect. Most new graduates complete their training period by working as interns at architectural firms.

Certification and Licensure
All States and the District of Columbia require individuals to be licensed (registered) before they may call themselves architects and contract to provide architectural services. During the time between graduation and becoming licensed, architecture school graduates generally work in the field under the supervision of a licensed architect who takes legal responsibility for all work. Licensing requirements include a professional degree in architecture, a period of practical training or internship, and a passing score on all divisions of the Architect Registration Examination.

  Architects must be able to communicate their ideas visually to their clients. Artistic and drawing ability is helpful, but not essential, to such communication. More important are a visual orientation and the ability to understand spatial relationships. Other important qualities for anyone interested in becoming an architect are creativity and the ability to work independently and as part of a team. Computer skills are also required for writing specifications, for 2- and 3- dimensional drafting using CADD programs, and for financial management.


The median annual salary for a naval architect is $76,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $114,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $48,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of naval architects are:

  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services - $70,970
  • Ship and Boat Building  - $75,840
  • Federal Executive Branch  - $94,740
  • Scientific Research and Development Services - $85,110
  • Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services - $64,280

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  11%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 1,000
  • Employment 2006 : 9,000
  • Employment 2016:  10,000
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