Difference Between Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering

Naval architects are ship designers, while marine engineers ensure that ship systems function as expected. Their duties are very different, despite the fact that they both work with ships, and those differences are explored further here.

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Comparing Naval Architecture to Marine Engineering

Naval architects and marine engineers both work with ships. Naval architects specialize in the overall design of the vessels. Marine engineers primarily focus on ensuring that a ship's systems are operating properly and are well-maintained.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary** (2017) Job Outlook* (2014-2024)
Naval Architect Bachelor's Degree $76,568 9%
Marine Engineer Bachelor's Degree $77,832 9%

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale.com

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Responsibilities of Naval Architect vs Marine Engineer

When a new boat or ship is needed, a naval architect will begin working on design plans to fit the needs of the client. While they're determining where the ship's systems will be located they may meet with marine engineers to ensure that the design plan is suitable. Naval architects work on the vessels during the design and initial construction phase, and they assess the prototypes that are built and modify their design plans if necessary in order to ensure that the ship operates effectively. Marine engineers focus on the mechanical systems that are used on a ship. Their job is to keep ships running smoothly, which means that they may supervise the maintenance and repairs on a ship's engines, navigation equipment and other mechanical systems.

Naval Architect

Naval architects usually work typical daytime hours. It's common for them to work in an office, and the focus of their work is on developing design plans for ships. In order to become a naval architect, it's necessary to study naval architecture and earn a bachelor's degree. Artistic skills can be an asset since their work involves drafting designs, and they will need to know how to use computer-assisted design software as well. They need to blend their creative vision for the design plans with the practical needs of the crew while adhering to regulations.

Job responsibilities of a naval architect include:

  • Meet with clients to discuss projects
  • Develop a plan for the external appearance of a vessel
  • Determine the interior layout of vessels
  • Discuss mechanical equipment placement with marine engineers
  • Have a prototype constructed
  • Alter design plans based on the vessel's performance

Marine Engineer

Marine engineers are typically employed by engineering companies. Some work in offices on shore, while others work on ships. The specific hours they work can vary depending on their work location. To start out in this career field it's necessary to have a bachelor's degree in marine engineering or a similar subject, and marine engineers may also get a U.S. Merchant Mariner's license. They can advance through different licensing levels, and as they gain practical experience it's possible for marine engineers to specialize in a specific area of marine engineering or move into a supervisory role.

Job responsibilities of a marine engineer include:

  • Perform checks on equipment
  • Create blueprints
  • Determine if repairs or maintenance is needed
  • Install equipment
  • Supervise/conduct necessary repairs
  • Set work schedules and deadlines for construction, installation or repairs

Related Careers

Aspiring naval architects may also be interested in a career in industrial design since industrial designers also create design plans and can design vehicles. Those thinking about a career as a marine engineer may also be interested in the work that boat mechanics do since boat mechanics service smaller vessels and perform maintenance and repairs on their mechanical systems.

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