How to become a Naval Architect

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 for 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. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

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.

Duties & Tasks of a Naval Architect

Naval architects:

  • 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.


  • Carries out surveys of ships’ hulls, superstructures and equipment, and measures ships for tonnage and freeboard..
  • Conducts investigations into such matters as structural faults and losses due to capsize, on behalf of parties involved in litigation..
  • Designs yachts and other small vessels..
  • Engages in research and development work specialising in design and construction of ships and other vessels..
  • Consults with specialists to co-ordinate design of vessel..

Working conditions for a Naval Architect

Naval Architects 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.


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. Naval architects may specialise in structure and design, management, cost calculations, manufacturing processes, research, mechanical practices, hydrodynamics and hydrostatics, stability, propulsion or systems engineering.

  • Average age
    Average age
    40 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Very strong
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    8% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    43 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Average unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    92% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    320 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 3.5%
    NSW: 28.4%
    NT: 0.0%
    QLD: 16.1%
    SA: 11.3%
    TAS: 5.5%
    VIC: 11.6%
    WA: 23.5%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0%
    20-24: 8.9%
    25-34: 25.8%
    35-44: 25.8%
    45-54: 19.1%
    55-59: 7%
    60-64: 7%
    65 and Over: 6.4%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 7.8%
    Bachelor degree: 66.8%
    Certificate III/IV: 5.4%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 17.3%
    Year 10 and below: 1.4%
    Year 11: 0%
    Year 12: 1.4%
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