Naval Architect Job Description
Naval architects are engineers who design, research, construct, maintain, and repair ships and other marine vessels and installations. Their work entails design evaluation and development, and coordination of a team of professionals who work on any given project.
Naval architects' main job is to ensure that a project is completed safely, effectively, and within time and budget. They are usually involved in a project from the planning stage to product delivery, and typically manage and oversee all the stages of design, development, and construction. They procure components and equipment and deal with any issues related to the economics of maritime operations.
Risk analysis is a major aspect of naval architects' work. They assess different designs and evaluate their stability and strength. Naval architects who have seafaring experience sometimes also provide safety training for ship crews and personnel. Those who specialize in construction can manage entire shipyards after a certain number of years (or decades) of relevant experience in the industry.
Naval architects must have an excellent knowledge of mathematics, physics, hydrostatics, hydrodynamics, structural analysis, construction, and many other fields of engineering, and they must always stay informed about the latest developments in technology.
Good communication and people skills are essential for career success. Naval architects provide clients with technical solutions and guidance, and they must be good at explaining technical and regulatory concepts to people who are unfamiliar with them. They must also have strong IT skills and know how to use computer-aided design (CAD) software, as their jobs usually revolve around design.
Organizational and project management skills will be an asset as naval architects move on to senior roles and management.
Naval architecture jobs are open to professionals with backgrounds in marine science and engineering disciplines, but when applying for senior jobs or roles with more responsibilities, candidates with a degree in naval architecture will have a definite advantage.
Naval architects usually become members of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) and then register with the Engineering Council to obtain professional status as either incorporated or chartered engineers.
For the status of incorporated engineer, naval architects need an accredited bachelor's degree in technology or engineering, or a foundation degree or HND/HNC combined with further learning to degree level.
To obtain chartered status, naval architects need an accredited MEng degree, or an accredited bachelor's degree with honours in technology or engineering combined with a master's degree accredited by a relevant professional body.
Naval architects who do not have academic qualifications accredited by a professional body can pursue alternative routes offered by the RINA.
Naval architects' work can entail design and maintenance of working vessels such as rescue boats, ferries, yachts, warships, and merchant ships, including passenger liners, cargo ships and tankers. They can also be responsible for the design and construction of off-shore drilling platforms and other marine installations.
Naval architects can design entire vessels or just individual components and equipment, and they are responsible for ensuring that the design complies with all the relevant regulations and that it is technically sound.
Naval architects typically start their careers in graduate jobs and work toward obtaining relevant work experience to qualify for chartered status. Once they have obtained the qualifications, they can specialize in any given area of naval architecture or choose to work as project managers. Once they have significant project management experience and work in senior positions within the industry on their resume, they can move into senior executive jobs or consultancy.