Marine Engineers and Naval Architects: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Programs in marine engineering and naval architecture typically include courses in calculus, physics, computer-aided design, fluid mechanics, ship hull strength, and mechanics of materials. Most programs also include time at sea, where students gain hands-on experience on a vessel.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 12% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Advancement
Beginning marine engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In larger companies, new engineers also may receive formal training in classrooms or seminars. As beginning engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move on to more difficult projects, on which they have greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.
Licenses/Certifications
Along with earning a bachelor’s degree, students at states’ maritime academies take exams for licensure from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Median pay: How much do Marine Engineers and Naval Architects make?
$93,350 Annual Salary
$44.88 per hour

Marine engineers and naval architects design, build, and maintain ships, from aircraft carriers to submarines and from sailboats to tankers. Marine engineers are also known as marine design engineers or marine mechanical engineers and are responsible for the internal systems of a ship, such as the propulsion, electrical, refrigeration, and steering systems. Naval architects are responsible for the ship design, including the form, structure, and stability of hulls.

What do Marine Engineers and Naval Architects do?

Marine engineers typically do the following:

  • Prepare system layouts and detailed drawings and schematics
  • Inspect marine equipment and machinery, and draw up work requests and job specifications
  • Conduct environmental, operational, or performance tests on marine machinery and equipment
  • Design and oversee the testing, installation, and repair of marine equipment
  • Investigate and test machinery and equipment to ensure compliance with standards
  • Coordinate activities with regulatory bodies to ensure that repairs and alterations are done safely and at minimal cost
  • Prepare technical reports for use by engineers, managers, or sales personnel
  • Prepare cost estimates, contract specifications, and design and construction schedules
  • Maintain contact with contractors to make sure that the work is being done correctly, on schedule, and within budget

Naval architects typically do the following:

  • Study design proposals and specifications to establish basic characteristics of a ship, such as its size, weight, and speed
  • Develop sectional and waterline curves of the ship’s hull to establish the center of gravity, the ideal hull form, and data on buoyancy and stability
  • Design entire ship hulls and superstructures, following safety and regulatory standards
  • Design the complete layout of ships’ interiors, including spaces for machinery and auxiliary equipment, passenger compartments, cargo space, ladder wells, and elevators
  • Confer with marine engineers to design the layout of boiler room equipment, heating and ventilation systems, refrigeration equipment, electrical distribution systems, safety systems, steering systems, and propulsion machinery
  • Lead teams from a variety of specialties to oversee building and testing prototypes
  • Evaluate how ships perform during trials, both in the dock and at sea, and change designs as needed to make sure that national and international standards are met

Marine engineers and naval architects apply knowledge from a range of engineering fields to the entire water vehicles’ design and production processes. Marine engineers also design and maintain offshore oil rigs and may work on alternative energy projects, such as wind turbines located offshore and tidal power.

Marine engineers and naval architects who work for ship and boat building firms design large ships, such as passenger ships and cargo ships, as well as small craft, such as inflatable boats and rowboats. Those who work in the federal government may design or test the designs of ships or systems for the Army, Navy, or Coast Guard.

Marine engineers should not be confused with ship engineers, who operate or supervise the operation of the machinery on a ship. For more information on ship engineers, see the profile on water transportation workers.

Careers for Marine Engineers and Naval Architects

  • Marine architects
  • Marine equipment engineers
  • Marine structural designers
  • Naval engineers
  • Ships equipment engineers

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