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Naval architect

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Summary of occupation

​A naval architect is responsible for directing the design, construction, maintenance, renovation and operation of marine vessels and offshore structures. They focus on the form, arrangement and stability of marine structures and their movement through water.

Naval architects manage and take responsibility for the activities of a team to ensure that a safe, environmentally sound and seaworthy design is produced. They design a variety of marine structures such as warships, submarines, passenger and cargo ships, cruise liners, yachts, high-speed craft and catamarans.

ANZSCO description: Designs and oversees the construction and repair of marine craft and floating structures. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names:
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A naval architect needs: 

  • an aptitude for mathematics and physics
  • good communication skills
  • to be comfortable with computing, new technology and technical design
  • to be able to think creatively and make innovative decisions
  • to assume responsibility and take a leadership role
  • knowledge of internationally agreed safety and environmental protection regulations.
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Working conditions

​A naval architect usually works from an office when designing or drawing, although some time may be spent on-site in shipyards, or onboard ships for sea trials in various weather conditions.

Naval architects can work for shipyards, design firms and consultancies, naval classification societies, boat and ship repair companies, oil and gas engineering companies or the Australian Defence Force.

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Salary details

On average, naval architects, classified under other engineering professionals, can expect to earn between $1,750 and $1,999 per week ($91,000 and $103,000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. 

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Tools and technologies

​Naval architects use drawing and measuring instruments and materials, as well as computer-aided design (CAD) and engineering software packages. They may also use a variety of stands and equipment for making and displaying three-dimensional models of their designs. Naval architects may also supervise emergency underwater repair work on offshore vessels that cannot dock. They may develop and design underwater technology such as computerised buoys and underwater welding and drilling equipment, and underwater robots.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a naval architect, you usually need to study a degree in engineering with a major in naval architecture.

Edith Cowan University offers a four-year Bachelor of Engineering (Naval Architecture) (Honours). This is the only naval architecture degree in Western Australia. The course is run in collaboration with the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania in Launceston, which delivers the final two years of the course. Contact the university for more information. 

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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