Watercraft Engineer: Job & Career Info

Watercraft engineers are specialized industrial engineers who design and manufacture boats, ships, and other seacraft. Continue reading to learn more about the activities, educational backgrounds, career prospects and salaries for professionals in this unique field of engineering.

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Career Definition for a Watercraft Engineer

Watercraft engineers apply new technologies and use appropriate materials to improve the design and manufacturing of boats, ships, submarines, and other watercraft. They may also work in partnership with other professionals to improve the safety, aesthetics, fuel-efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of their designs. Watercraft engineers typically work for the military, private engineering firms, and consulting firms.

Education Bachelor's degree in engineering
Job Skills Knowledge of business and marketing, good people and technical skills
Median Salary (2015) $83,470 (for industrial engineers)
Job Growth (2014-2024) 1% (for industrial engineers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Watercraft engineers may have a bachelor's degree in electrical, manufacturing, marine, or mechanical engineering, which is usually sufficient to enter the field. They may also pursue programs in industrial engineering that have been approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Completion of an accredited program can help industrial engineers qualify for a professional engineer (PE) license, which may be required to work on a government contract.

Licensure

To become licensed as a professional engineer, bachelor's holders must have complete an ABET-accredited program and passed the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Then after gaining relevant work experience, prospective engineers must pass the Professional Engineering (PE) exam.

Skills Required

Watercraft engineers should have knowledge of business and marketing, in addition to technical skills. A career in watercraft engineering involves collaborating with other engineers, designers, clients, and manufacturers, which requires excellent people skills.

Employment and Salary Outlook

The employment of industrial engineers, including watercraft engineers, is expected to have little to no change (1% growth) from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In May 2015, industrial engineers earned a median salary of $83,470, with the greatest number of jobs available in Michigan, California, and Texas (www.bls.gov). The Institute for Industrial Engineers describes watercraft engineering as a relatively high-paying job for a profession that does not require a postgraduate degree (www.iie.org).

Alternate Career Options

Similar careers to a watercraft engineer include:

Industrial Production Managers

Industrial production managers oversee all aspects of the manufacturing process, including those related to price, quantity, and value. Graduates of a 4-year program in business or industrial engineering with five years of experience in the field may qualify for the position, which paid a median annual wage of $93,940 in May 2015, as reported by the BLS. Between 2014 and 2024, the BLS has projected a 4% decrease in employment nationwide for industrial production managers (www.bls.gov).

Materials Engineers

Materials engineers evaluate the appropriateness of a variety of materials, such as ceramics, composites, metals, and plastics, which are used in the production of computer chips, sporting goods, or transportation components, like aircraft wings. Professional requirements include a bachelor's degree in engineering or materials science; participation in a cooperative engineering program and experience can be helpful. According to the BLS, materials engineers earned a median yearly salary of $91,310 in May 2015, with minimal to no change (1%) in job growth expected from 2014 through 2024 (www.bls.gov).

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