Marine Engineers and Naval Architects

What Marine Engineers and Naval Architects Do

Marine engineers and naval architects design, build, and maintain ships, from aircraft carriers to submarines and from sailboats to tankers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=445nfaA6gdI

Work Environment

Marine engineers and naval architects typically work in offices, where they have access to computer software and other tools necessary for analyzing projects and designing solutions. Sometimes, they must go to sea to test or maintain the ships that they have designed or built.

How to Become a Marine Engineer or Naval Architect

Marine engineers and naval architects typically need a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering and naval architecture, respectively, or a related degree, such as a degree in mechanical or electrical engineering.  

Pay

The median annual wage for marine engineers and naval architects was $92,400 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of marine engineers and naval architects is projected to grow 1 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.

Many jobs for these workers are in the ship and boat building industry, which supplies new ship orders for the military. Therefore, federal budgetary constraints may limit employment growth.  

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.

Duties

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.

Marine engineers and naval architects held about 11,800 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of marine engineers and naval architects were as follows:

Engineering services 22%
Federal government, excluding postal service 10
Other professional, scientific, and technical services 6
Transportation and warehousing 3

Marine engineers and naval architects typically work in offices, where they have access to computer software and other tools necessary for analyzing projects and designing solutions. Sometimes, they must go to sea to test or maintain the ships that they have designed or built.

Marine engineers and naval architects who work on power generation projects, such as offshore wind turbines and tidal power, work along the coast—both offshore and on land. They also sometimes work on oil rigs, where they oversee the repair or maintenance of systems that they may have designed.

Naval architects often lead teams to create feasible designs, and they must effectively use the skills that each person brings to the design process.

Work Schedules

Most marine engineers and naval architects work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week. Marine engineers who work at sea will work a schedule tied to the operations of their particular ship. Those who work onshore will have somewhat more regular work schedules. Naval architects, and marine engineers who are engaged primarily in design, are much more likely to work a regular schedule in an office or at a shipyard.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of marine engineers and naval architects.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles.

Bachelor’s degree $116,500

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment.

Bachelor’s degree $101,250

Mechanical engineers

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.

Bachelor’s degree $88,430

Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface.

Bachelor’s degree $137,720

For more information about marine engineers and naval architects, visit

Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association

American Society of Naval Engineers

For more information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

American Society for Engineering Education

Maritime Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation

Technology Student Association

For more information about accredited engineering programs, visit

ABET

O*NET

Marine Architects

Marine Engineers

Marine Engineers and Naval Architects


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Marine Engineers and Naval Architects,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/marine-engineers-and-naval-architects.htm (visited ).