Ship Design Certificate, Certification and Degree Programs

Oct 10, 2019

Certificates and associate degree programs at vocational and maritime schools, community colleges and universities can develop skills for general boatbuilding and ship design. These diverse programs may include specialized courses such as wooden boat building.

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Essential Information

Individuals interested in ship design and boat building can get training through many types of certificate and associate degree programs that teach drafting and construction skills as well as the maritime engineering knowledge needed to make a ship that floats. Certificate programs take about a year or more to complete. They may focus only on learning to use drafting skills and design technology to lay out a plan for a ship, or they may cover the entire construction process, from preliminary sketches to a finished, in-the-water boat.

Associate degree programs take two years to complete and cover all aspects of boat construction. Students get a more in-depth education in this industry through courses in boat mending, wood building and maritime carpentry.

Regardless of which type of certificate or degree students are planning to obtain, the prerequisites are basically the same. All programs require formal college enrollment and submission of official high school transcripts. Depending on the college or university, some programs also require placement exams or attendance at an information session. Some courses and programs may be offered online.

Certificate of Completion in Boatbuilding

Students in this program learn to build and repair boats using a variety of hand and stationary power tools and materials, like wood and fiberglass. They usually gain basic knowledge in boat building terminology and boat shapes. Demonstrations are common in these types of programs so that students can learn how to properly sketch, construct and finish a boat.

During boat building programs, students acquire knowledge of boat, ship and yacht design while also studying areas of drafting. The program may cover wooden, fiberglass or basic boat design and construction. General studies may include math, social relations and human interaction. Certificate programs might last a minimum of 11 months and are typically available for those who need flexible schedules. Other topics might include:

  • Boat maintenance
  • Drafting and scaling
  • Refurbishment
  • Supplies and resources
  • Workshop safety

Certificate of Completion in Drafting Design and Technology

Through these certificate programs, students gain familiarity with sketching and illustrating apparatuses used in ship design. They also gain expertise in computers and software programs pertaining to ship design.

Students gain hands-on training on introductory drafting topics such as the history of drafting, reproductions and the types of equipment used in drafting. Some classes show students how to pursue employment opportunities. General studies may include English, natural science and social interaction. Other studies might include:

  • Diagrams in machinery
  • Dimensioning
  • Geometrics
  • Technical mathematics
  • Visual illustrations

Associate Degree in Boat Building

Several types of associate degree programs are available in boat building, such as the Associate of Technology in Boat Building, the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Wooden Boat Building and the AAS in Marine Carpentry (Boat Building). Programs are offered through boat building schools, community colleges and technical colleges.

Associate degree programs combine general studies with core topics such as fiberglass boat building, boat configurations, vessel blueprints and assembly, boding and fusing and manufacturing. Similar topics might consist of the following:

  • Advanced computer-aided design
  • Devices and instruments
  • Industrial safety
  • Maritime carpentry and finishes
  • Mending and renovation
  • Sculpting and shaping

Popular Career Options

Graduates of certificate programs in boatbuilding possess the skills and abilities to pursue careers in fabricating, fiberglass and lamination. Some potential positions might include:

  • Gel-coater
  • Hull line crew member
  • Fiberglass finisher
  • Fiberglass laminator
  • Laminator

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), drafters in general held more than 199,900 positions in 2018 ( The BLS expects little or no change in jobs for drafters between 2018 and 2028. A May 2018 report from the BLS showed that mechanical drafters working in ship and boat building earned an average of $59,010 per year.

Boatbuilding professionals with an associate degree might engage in fabricating and the laminating of fiberglass during the ship and boat manufacturing process. According to the BLS, fiberglass laminator and fabricator jobs are expected to decrease by 11 percent between 2018 and 2028. The average annual salary for fiberglass laminators and fabricators was $36,170 as of May 2018, per reports by the BLS.

In 2018, the BLS reported an average annual salary of $98,970 for marine engineers and naval architects and a prediction of 9% employment growth between 2018 and 2028.

Continuing Education and Professional Certification Information

To demonstrate their knowledge of the field, drafters make seek voluntary certification through the American Design Drafting Association (ADA). The Drafter Certification Test includes areas like basic drafting principles, drafting terminology and manufacturing processes ( Membership in ADA isn't required for certification and drafters must recertify every five years.

Those interested in extending their education can enroll in a Bachelor of Engineering in Naval Architecture. These programs focus on ship design and offer students the opportunity to gain extensive expertise in boat and ship operations. They also learn how to execute vital techniques incorporating efficient vessels. Bachelor's degree graduates can enroll in a master's degree program in engineering or marine systems design to gain advanced knowledge of ship design. Studies accentuate inclusive plans, manufacturing, administration, assembly and conception.

Programs in ship design include one-year certificates and two-year associate degrees that allow students to examine topics ranging from the basics of drafting and design to in-depth construction of an entire ship.

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