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Naval architect: job description

Naval architect: job description

Naval architects work as part of a team responsible for designing, producing and repairing safe, sea-worthy surface or underwater vessels.
Naval architects need to have a creative, logical and inquiring mind.

What does a naval architect do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Naval architects can work with a range of vessels including ships, ferries, submarines and yachts.

Responsibilities of the job typically include:

  • assessing project requirements and researching feasibility
  • planning and supervising the construction of vessels
  • negotiating and agreeing project budgets, timescales and specifications with clients
  • producing detailed designs of ships, boats and other maritime vessels using drawings and specialist computer software
  • developing and utilising test procedures including computer modelling and scale models
  • interpreting and analysing data and test results
  • sourcing and purchasing components, equipment and materials
  • ensuring adherence to appropriate health and safety legislation/standards
  • identifying the need for, and supervising, vessel repairs
  • writing reports and documentation
  • giving presentations
  • undertaking relevant research
  • supervising junior staff
  • providing technical advice
  • answering queries from clients.

Typical employers of naval architects

  • Government departments (particularly the Ministry of Defence)
  • Boat and ship builders/repairers
  • Companies that construct and repair smaller craft
  • Design consultants
  • Offshore constructors
  • Ship survey/regulatory societies
  • Companies that maintain/repair naval submarines and ships
  • Universities

Jobs are advertised online, by careers services and specialist recruitment agencies, in newspapers and in relevant publications including Offshore Engineer, Marine Engineers Review, The Engineer, Engineering, Professional Engineering, Engineering News and their respective websites.

Speculative applications are advisable; Lloyd’s Maritime Directory may be helpful for this.

Qualifications and training required

To become a naval architect, you will need a degree in a relevant subject such as naval architecture, marine or mechanical engineering, engineering design or civil or structural engineering. Specialist positions often require postgraduate qualifications. A list of accredited courses is available on the Engineering Council’s website.

Relevant shipyard/design office work experience is desirable. Final-year project work, sponsorship, vacation work and industrial placements can provide a useful insight into the profession.

You can only gain professional status as a naval architect by becoming a member of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) and registering with the Engineering Council. You can obtain engineering technician status (EngTech), incorporated engineer status (IEng) or chartered status (CEng).

Achieving chartered status can help to demonstrate your professionalism and commitment to your field. To become chartered, you will need an accredited bachelors degree in engineering or technology, plus an appropriate masters degree (MSc) or doctorate (EngD) accredited by a professional institution such as RINA. You will also be eligible with an integrated MSc. To find out more, take a look at our guide to chartership.

Key skills for naval architects

  • Creativity
  • Effective technical skills
  • IT skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Leadership and interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Teamworking skills
  • Spatial awareness
  • A meticulous attention to detail.
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