How to become a Naval Architect

Naval architects design and oversee the construction, survey and repair of marine craft and floating structures, including naval craft, passenger and cargo ships, submarines, high-speed ferries and catamarans, tugs, boats, yachts and oil rigs.

Personal requirements of a Naval Architect

  • Enjoy technical and engineering activities
  • Aptitude for mathematics and physics
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Aptitude for computing and technical design
  • Practical and creative ability
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Able to accept responsibility
  • Interested in the marine environment

Education & Training for a Naval Architect

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 Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of mathematics, physics and chemistry are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in engineering with a major in naval architecture. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Naval Architect

Naval architects may perform the following tasks:

  • prepare preliminary designs by consulting with clients such as ship owners, ship builders, shipping organisations and maritime research institutes
  • estimate the initial vessel construction costs and lifetime running costs of a vessel
  • determine the most suitable type and size for a vessel and ensure proposed designs meet performance and cost requirements
  • determine the proportions and shape of the hull (body) of the vessel
  • design accommodation and cargo areas
  • make calculations relating to the structural and mechanical aspects of design, construction and repair
  • make calculations relating to the stability of the vessel and prepare the stability book to go on board the vessel to be used by the master and officers
  • supervise other people who prepare detailed designs, specifications and building contracts
  • coordinate the work of other engineers
  • obtain plan approval and supervise construction work
  • plan, supervise and evaluate dockside and sea trials of the vessel
  • survey vessels
  • organise repairs and modifications to vessels
  • research efficient ways for vessels to move through water
  • provide risk assessment and claims management for insurance.

Working conditions for a Naval Architect

They work in a variety of settings from drawing offices to shipyards and on board for sea trials.

Employment Opportunities for a Naval Architect

Naval architects can be employed in naval architecture consultancies, shipyards, international ship classification societies, boat and shipbuilding firms, boat and ship repair and maintenance companies, port and harbour authorities, shipping lines and offshore engineering oil and gas companies. Opportunities may also exist with mining companies engaged in offshore exploration and manufacturers of marine auxiliary machinery, navigational aids and communications equipment.

Additional Information
Students and graduates can apply for membership of Engineers Australia and the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA). RINA offers student membership, as well as information and guidance on how to become a chartered professional naval architect. Visit their websites for further information.
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