Marine or Naval Architect

Marine or naval architects design and oversee the construction and repair of commercial and military marine craft and floating structures.

  • Entry-level education

    Bachelor’s degree

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Marine or Naval Architect do?

Marine or naval architects are qualified engineers who design and oversee the construction and repair of marine craft and floating structures. This includes commercial and military ships, boats, submarines, high-speed ferries and catamarans, tugs, yachts and offshore oil rigs.


Work activities

As a marine or naval architect, you would:

  • design ships and boats, and other marine craft
  • design floating structures such as offshore oil platforms
  • prepare design plans using computer software
  • use complex mathematical and physical models to ensure the design is technically sound
  • ensure designs comply with safety regulations and are seaworthy
  • plan the building process, from concept through to delivery of the final product
  • coordinate the work of engineering design teams
  • undertake risk analysis of ships and marine structures
  • coordinate repair work on vessels or floating structures.

Key skills and interests

To become a naval architect, you would need:

  • maths, physics and wide-ranging engineering knowledge
  • practical problem solving skills
  • well-developed computer aided design (CAD) skills
  • the ability to work effectively with a wide range of other professionals
  • a logical and enquiring mind
  • sound judgement
  • a strong appreciation of risk and safety issues
  • good communication skills.

Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

In a full-time role, you would usually work a standard number of hours per week. If you were working on the construction or repair of structures such as offshore oil platforms, you may work a greater number of hours over weeks or months, followed by longer periods of time on shore leave.


Most naval architects would work in an office environment, or in facilities such as ship building yards. You might also spend some time on board vessels for sea trials, or on offshore oil rigs. You may experience poor weather and rough seas.


How to become an Marine or Naval Architect?

Entry Level Education

To become a naval architect you usually have to complete a degree in engineering with a major in naval architecture. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. Mathematics, physics and chemistry would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.

The special area of practice of Naval Architecture is the responsibility of the Joint Board for Naval Architecture, formed by Engineers Australia and the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA). A Competency Panel, appointed by the Joint Board, is responsible for setting the standards for assessment and audits.


Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of marine or naval architects is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations.

The need to design ships and systems to transport energy products, such as liquefied natural gas, across the globe will help to spur employment growth for this occupation.


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