Salary and Career Info for a Boat Designer

Sep 20, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a boat designer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and technical skills to find out if this is the career for you.

Boat designers require skills in design, boat construction and systems, and the engineering of boats. They require a college degree as well as proficiency in design software. These positions have a mean salary of about $66,590.

Essential Information

A boat designer creates and executes concepts for all types of boats, from small personal crafts to large yachts. These designers plan for all parts of the boat, from the outward appearance to complex ventilation systems. Advanced training in engineering, drafting, and computer-aided design is required, so would-be boat designers should enroll in certificate or degree programs in industrial design, marine design, or engineering.

Required Education Certificates in small-craft boat or yacht design; associate's or bachelor's degree in marine design, mechanical engineering, architecture, or industrial design
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 3% for all industrial designers*
Mean Salary (2018) $66,590 for commercial and industrial designers in ship and boat building*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information for Boat Designers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), commercial and industrial designers in the ship and boat building industry made a mean of $66,590 per year as of 2018 (

Boat Designer Career Information

A boat designer uses elements of art and engineering to design private and commercial boats, ships, and yachts. Boat designers can find employment at design firms, boat building companies, or other firms in the marine and naval industry. After many years of experience, some may become self-employed or start their own small-craft boat or yacht design firm.

The boat designer's duties can include drafting detailed sketches and renderings of proposed boat designs using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided industrial design (CAID) software. They must be thorough, accounting for all aspects of boat system design like engines, shafts, and electrical systems. They must also have an understanding of boat construction materials, such as fiberglass, and the engineering requirements of boat elements, such as the hull or the interior.

Education Requirements

There are several programs in the United States that offer specialized certificates in small-craft boat and yacht design. These programs, offered online or at vocational schools, are often accredited by vocational accrediting agencies and can last from six months to four years of full- or part-time study. Courses in these programs often include:

  • Marine drafting
  • CAD software
  • Applied mathematics
  • General boat design
  • Construction principles

According to the BLS, other relevant degrees can include an associate's or bachelor's degree in marine design, mechanical engineering, architecture, or industrial design. Appropriate programs for boat designers should cover principles of design, drafting, and CAD software. The BLS also reports that industrial designers with a strong knowledge of engineering and CAD will have the best job prospects.

Boat designers generally require an associate's or bachelor's degree in a related field. They need to have design skills as well as the ability to work with design software. The job growth of these positions is expected to be slower than all jobs.

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