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Become a Boat Architect: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a boat architect. Learn about the job description, and follow the step-by-step process to start a career in boat architecture. View article »

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  • 0:01 Should I Become a Boat…
  • 0:53 Get a Bachelor's Degree
  • 1:28 Get a Mariner's License
  • 1:43 Gain Work Experience
  • 2:16 Advance Your Career

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Boat Architect?

Boat architects , also known as naval or marine architects, are responsible for the overall design and layout of marine vessels and structures, such as yachts, cargo ships, and oil rigs. Boat architects' work might be accomplished in offices or shipyards. Boat architects need excellent oral and written communication skills, interpersonal and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to work within a team. They also need an understanding of related technical areas, knowledge of related computer-aided design (CAD), and knowledge of analytical or scientific software. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, naval architects and marine engineers earned a mean annual salary of $100,090 as of May 2015.

Let's look at the steps required to become a boat architect:

Get a Bachelor's Degree

Aspiring boat architects can pursue a bachelor's degree in marine architecture, marine engineering, or a related field, such as industrial design. Boat architects must take stability, structural integrity and function into account and may work on the hydrodynamics of the ship's hull and layout of the ship's internal systems. Thus, coursework can include marine dynamics, structures, and engineering and a foundation in chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Design or drafting courses may also be beneficial.

Get a Mariner's License

Entry-level marine architects can earn a 3rd assistant license from the U.S. Coast Guard. Candidates must meet education and experience requirements and complete training courses.

Gain Work Experience

Boat architects often work in shipyards and marine engineering firms, designing everything from small crafts and yachts to transportation ferries and oil rigs. They may also be involved in construction supervision and inspection. People in this field typically start their careers under the direction of experienced architects before taking on their own projects or leading engineering teams. Boat architects must develop familiarity with construction regulations.

Advance Your Career

As a boat architect gains experience, he or she can can apply for higher levels of licensure from the U.S. Coast Guard. Higher levels of licensure are often accompanied by pay raises and greater responsibility.

Boat architects also might consider joining a professional organization. Membership in an organization, like the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers or American Society of Naval Engineers, can help boat architects stay current with industry guidelines and procedures. These groups also provide opportunities for networking and continuing education.


In summary, boat architects typically need a bachelor's degree in marine architecture, marine engineering, or a related field. They can earn a merchant mariner's license through the U.S. Coast Guard, and they might gain higher positions based on experience and advanced licensure.

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