Naval Architecture & Boat Design

Naval architects are primarily involved in the design of vessels which move just above, on or under the sea. These include tankers, container ships, passenger ferries, warships, drilling platforms, submarines, hovercraft, yachts and other small vessels – such as landing craft, diving support vessels and unmanned submersibles. Naval architects work on the safe, economic and seaworthy design of small boats and yachts as well as on ships and submarines. They can specialise in construction/ conversion, managing the whole process from the design board to the finished vessel. Their work includes planning the construction process, the supply of materials, fitting-out and testing. There are also specialised technical problems to be solved in areas such as cargo handling. Some naval architects advise on the repair and maintenance of fleets.

Certain organisations, such as classification societies, fleet owners and flag states, employ naval architects as ship surveyors. A ship is monitored during its design, construction and throughout its life to ensure that it is safe and seaworthy and meets other statutory rules and regulations. Naval architects, marine engineers and nautical surveyors often work together carrying out tests, surveys and procedures. Naval architects may also work in research. There are also opportunities in rig fabrication and siting for the oil and gas industries. Those operating at Chartered and Incorporated Engineer level in naval architecture usually have the most responsible jobs. They are involved with bringing in new technological innovations and advanced design and production methods and ensuring that existing technology works as efficiently as possible. Engineers usually also have managerial responsibility. Engineering Technicians typically lead small, specialist teams in the detailed, ‘hands-on’ engineering work.

More information

The Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), is an internationally renowned professional institution whose members are involved at all levels in the design, construction, maintenance and operation of marine vessels and structures.

Royal Institution of Naval Architects

British Marine represents the UK’s leisure marine industry and has careers information, including on naval architecture and boat design. 

British Marine

Reviewed June 2023