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The boat and ship building industry produces a variety of vessels, from canoes to yachts to destroyers. It takes many types of workers to build boats and ships, and they come from a variety of educational backgrounds. While "ships" are generally used for commercial and military purposes and "boats" are usually used for recreation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics considers ship-building and boat-building to be one industry.
Engineers design every facet of ships and boats, from the structure to the propulsion systems. Engineers usually need a bachelor's degree in their specific field of engineering. As of 2012, engineers employed in the ship and boat building industry earned an average of $83,060 per year. Mechanical engineers earned the most, an average of $84,060 per year. Marine engineers and naval architects averaged $81,360 per year, and industrial engineers earned an average of $78,550 per year. Materials engineers in ship and boat building reported a somewhat lower average salary, $70,250 per year.
Engineering technicians help engineers test, design and manufacture components used in building ships and boats. A career as an engineering technician usually requires an associate degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, industrial engineering technicians employed in shipyards and boat manufacturers earned an average salary of $52,990 per year in 2012. Mechanical engineering technicians employed in the industry reported an average annual salary of $54,430, while electrical and electronics engineering technicians averaged $56,360 per year.
Drafters assist engineers and naval architects by transforming designs into easy-to-follow blueprints for manufacture by using Computer-Aided Draft and Design (CADD) software. Most drafters employed in the ship and boat building industry are mechanical drafters, who earned an average of $55,200 per year as of 2012. Electrical and electronics drafters, who produce detailed designs of the electrical systems and components that power ships and boats, reported a significantly higher average salary of $73,440 per year.
Construction and Production Trades
Of course, boat building isn't all high theory and design; shipyards and boat manufacturers also employ many workers who physically construct vessels. Many workers in construction occupations learn their trade through a formal apprenticeship. Carpenters employed in boat building reported an average salary of $41,800 per year in 2012. Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters averaged $47,110 per year. Electricians in the ship and boat building industry earned an average of $48,100 per year. Production workers, who use machines to shape, cut and assemble metal pieces, earned an average of $41,430 per year.