A degree in naval architecture or marine engineering prepares professionals for two different but related careers in the realm of designing ships and the systems that allow ships to run. Either degree would allow a person to work in the Navy or in the private sector, and positions could entail supervising other workers and using computer design software.
A degree program in naval architecture or marine engineering prepares students to design watercraft and maritime power systems. Individuals who complete these programs may choose to work in the Navy or for private industries. Professional licensing is also an option.
|Career||Marine Engineers and Naval Architects|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Mariner's license usually required|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||9%|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$92,560|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Information for a Marine Engineering or Naval Architecture Degree
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), marine engineers work on propulsion and mechanical systems, while naval architects are concerned with a structure's design. These professionals use math and science to design ships and increase power and steering efficiency. During a project, naval architects and marine engineers may oversee marine technicians and other workers.
According to O*Net Online, marine engineers and naval architects may use analytic and computer-aided design software on complicated designs, such as the layout of engine rooms and ventilation systems. O*Net Online reports that naval architects, also referred to as marine architects, test prototypes in model basins to determine optimum levels of buoyancy and stability. Marine engineers may specialize in design, operations or technology.
The BLS stated that employment opportunities for marine engineers and naval architects are expected to increase by 9% for the years 2018-2028. While the BLS notes that job opportunities may be available because of the limited number of students pursuing these careers, it also states that this may be tempered by the decline of the U.S. ship manufacturing industry. Employment opportunities will be available in private industries, including manufacturers of commercial and recreational vessels, and the federal government.
In May of 2018, the BLS reported that the median annual salary of marine engineers and naval architects was $92,560. The top-paid workers earned over $148,950 annually in 2018, while the lowest-paid workers earned less than $65,090 annually in the same year.
Marine engineering and naval architecture programs are offered at traditional colleges and marine service academies. These programs include engineering prerequisites in calculus, physics and chemistry. The engineering curricula include topics in ship design, hydrodynamics, marine structures and ship dynamics. In addition to classroom learning, students learn through labs and gain experience with the technologies they'll use on the job.
Programs that are offered at service academies may include a military service commitment. Students in these programs may also need to earn a U.S. Coast Guard license, which generally includes completing training cruises and passing a licensing examination.
Marine engineers and naval architects who wish to become professional engineers must pass two exams that are administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), and gain sufficient work experience. Students near graduation take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. After passing the FE, individuals must work for four years before they are eligible to sit for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. The NCEES indicates that the PE is typically the last step to becoming professionally licensed.
A degree in naval architecture or marine engineering could be pursued at a college or marine service academy. Once working, individuals in the field may design ships and the systems that allow ships to run efficiently. Licensure is required in order to become a professional engineer.