How to Become a Naval Architect

Naval Architects are professionals who build and maintain the naval vessels and platforms that we depend so heavily upon. So if you have a passion for engineering, architecture, maths and physics, as well as the sea, perhaps a career as a naval architect could be the right choice for you.

What do Naval Architects do?

Just like architects design and build structures on land, naval architects design, build and repair all manner of naval structure or vessel. This could include offshore drilling platforms or ships of all type small and large. Modern construction is usually done on a massive scale and the naval architect is required to coordinate all of the different types of engineers working on the project. Naval architects must understand numerous aspects of engineering in order to take full responsibility for a project and ensure that it is completed as safely, economically and as close to specifications as possible. A very advanced level of familiarity with CAD and physics is necessary to be effective as a naval architect.

Typical daily activities could include:

  •  Manage and synchronise the work of the different teams working on projects
  •  Ensure that all designs are safe, fit for purpose and
  •  Use CAD design software to prepare your designs thoroughly
  •  Use computer simulations and 3D modelling software to test the project
  • Making sure that designs meet customer specifications
  • Coordinating manufacturing or repair work
  • Doing consultancy work
  • Undertaking research in a university
  • Inspecting the safety of a ship or offshore platform

It is also possible to specialise in a specific area of Naval Architecture:

  • Design
  • Construction and Repair
  • Research and Development
  • Consultancy
  • Ship Surveyor (Inspecting the safety of maritime vessels and structures)


Naval Architecture can be a reasonably lucrative career path, with quite a generous entry level salary. As with most jobs the pay can vary a huge amount depending on whether or not you are working in the public or private sector. But as with any private sector job, you lose job security and a generous pension as well as various other benefits in return for a higher salary.

Starting Salaries

£22,000 and £25,000

Experienced Architects

£35,000 to over £50,000

Many Years of Experience

£50,000 +

Skills Required

  • Natural ability in maths and science subjects
  • To be a logical and methodical thinker
  • Great communication and teamwork skills
  • Excellent problem solving skills
  • A keen attention to detail
  • Excellent skills with CAD
  • Leadership skills

Qualifications and Entry Requirements

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  • Usually a Naval architect is required to have completed a degree in one of the following areas: naval architecture, ocean engineering, marine engineering or ship science.
  • Following these qualifications you must complete a work based professional development programme that is accredited by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects (RINA). If your employer does not offer you a programme such as this, you would have to develop a training plan with RINA. Whatever training you receive, it will cover three main areas. Design, engineering practise and management services.
  • After this training period you need to complete a minimum of two years' work experience before applying to the Engineering Council for incorporated or chartered status and full membership of RINA.
  • Once fully qualified you can advertise your services as a fully qualified naval architect to any employer.

Career prospects and Development

Once you are fully qualified you are expected to practise continual professional development in order to stay up to date with current trends and technology. The career prospects for Naval Architects are quite good and it is actually a growth industry. The UK is a world leader in maritime production so there is always a demand for highly qualified people in this area. In fact the number of people employed in the sector in the UK is predicted to grow from 1440000 in 2014 to 1562000 in 2020.

Despite the good career prospects and relatively high pay, this is not a career choice for everyone. In order to do this job you really need to put in a lot of time and effort. It also requires you to be extremely good at maths, physics and engineering. Ultimately of course a love of all things naval and wanting to build boats will be the deciding factor for you, but you need to have certain attributes in order to succeed in this career.




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