Getting a boat to float predictably and safely is not as easy as it may sound. The lives of crew members all over the world depend on marine vessels being seaworthy and reliable. Marine engineers and naval architects are responsible for designing water vessels, including their propulsion systems. They also develop all sorts of marine equipment and machinery.In the United States as a whole, 260 new job openings in these professions are expected to open up each year. That is a 10 percent increase in the total number of marine engineers and naval architects in just 10 years.
Marine Engineers and Naval Architects Skills and Abilities
Marine engineers generally focus on ships’ systems and machinery, while naval architects engineer the actual vessels for stability and seaworthiness. Both jobs require knowledge of engineering, mathematics and design for the technical aspects. Personal skills, such as active listening, oral and written communication and decision making are also required.
Marine Engineers and Naval Architects Duties
If your focus is marine engineering, your specific duties may include:
- Conducting performance studies to inform your design of engines and other equipment
- Designing marine equipment and overseeing its construction and implementation
- Preparing schematics and plans for others to work from
- Preparing technical reports and operation manuals
- Evaluating equipment performance during testing
- Training ships’ engineers in usage and maintenance procedures
- Scheduling service for ships’ systems
- Ensuring that local and international regulations are met
- Inspecting and maintaining systems, including electronic and mechanical components
- Reviewing technical documentsIf you become a marine architect, your daily tasks might involve:
- Creating hull designs that are economical, efficient and safe
- Designing below-decks areas, including various compartments meant to house passengers, personnel, cargo or machinery
- Working together with marine engineers to design placement of propulsion systems, ventilation systems and other equipment
- Constructing and testing prototypes
- Evaluating prototypes’ buoyancy, stability and center of gravity
- Performing stability analyses of working vessels
- Evaluating vessels’ performance during shakedown and sea trials
- Ensuring that vessel designs comply with local and international regulations and safety standards
- Creating graphics and detailed plans for others to work by
- Overseeing or directing the construction process
- Creating and reviewing technical documents and plans
Marine Engineers and Naval Architects Tools and Technology
Both marine engineers and naval architects use computers, computer aided design (CAD) software and analytical software. They may also use databases, spreadsheets, email and project management programs. Hard hats may be among the tools they use on work sites.
Education and Training for Marine Engineers and Naval Architects
A bachelor’s degree is needed for both of these occupations. Specific knowledge and skills can be gained in a marine engineering or naval architecture program of study. Once you get hired to do these jobs, there is typically no on-the-job training.
Marine Engineers and Naval Architects Salary
Annual salaries for both marine engineers and naval architects in the United States range from $59,100 on the low end to $146,800 on the higher end. The median, or middle of the pay scale, is around $92,900 per year.
Marine Engineers and Naval Architects Jobs by Geography
Texas, which claims the highest number of marine engineers and naval architects, expects an increase in job openings of over 30 percent in 10 years. The median wage there is $108,600 per year. The District of Columbia, Maryland and California are the only areas reporting higher median wages, between 109,800 and $131,000. A total of 12 states are projecting growth rates in these occupations of over 10 percent. The highest growth is predicted in areas with access to large shipping ports, so if you’re seeking employment as a naval architect or marine engineer, begin your search in areas where shipbuilding is an ongoing business.