Boat Design Degree Program Information

Oct 10, 2019

Students who wish to pursue a boat design career can complete associate's degree programs in boat design and building. Such programs provide hands-on training in the conceptualization, drafting and physical modeling of small boats and yachts.

Essential Information

Program content for a boat design associate's degree considers hull ergonomics, rigging and propulsion, hydraulics and electrical systems. Students learn the properties of wood, fiberglass and aluminum, the basics of structural engineering and ISO standards. An associate's degree is typically earned in two years. Related bachelor's degree programs also exist for ambitious graduates.

Associate's Degree in Boat Design

Associate's degree programs require a high school diploma or GED for admission. Some schools may require proof of competency in math, reading and writing. High school courses in drawing, math and physics are recommended for aspiring boat designers.

Prospective boat designers need a good eye for composition as well as mechanical, mathematical and technical aptitude. They also need perseverance, persistence and an absolute love of boating because the profession is very small and competitive. They might further develop these traits as they study in associate's-level programs.

General education courses in composition and the behavioral or social sciences are commonly part of associate's degree programs. Some boat design programs also require courses in business concepts, business communications and management. The following are possible boat design course topics:

  • Boat design theory and principles
  • Design planning
  • Woodworking basics
  • Fiberglass preparation and molding
  • 2D and 3D drafting fundamentals
  • Lines, lofting and patterns

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates of these associate's degree programs are qualified to seek boat builder and boat design positions. Designers may either work for design firms or as freelancers. However, professionals in the field warn that new boat designers can expect to spend 10-15 years establishing themselves because the market for new boats is extremely small.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide figures for boat designers, as such, but did project a 9% increase in employment of marine engineers and naval architects from 2018-2028 ( These professionals earned an annual median salary of $92,560 in 2018, according to the BLS. Boat designers also share similarities with commercial and industrial designers, who may design vehicles such as boats. Industrial designers see a 3% job increase from 2018-2028, and the BLS reported these designers made a median wage of $66,590 yearly in 2018.

Continuing Education Information

People who earn an associate's degree in boat design can modestly improve their career prospects by earning a bachelor's degree and then a master's degree in marine engineering and naval architecture. They could also consider earning a conventional bachelor's degree in engineering. Transferring credits into marine engineering and naval architecture programs may be easier, however.

An associate's degree in boat design may be helpful in careers such as marine engineering and boat building. Coursework typically includes woodworking, design planning and drafting to help students see the design of a boat through from start to finish.

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