Marine engineers and naval architects design, build, and maintain ships from aircraft carriers to submarines, from sailboats to tankers. Marine engineers are primarily responsible for the internal systems of a ship, such as propulsion, electrical, refrigeration, and steering. Naval architects are primarily responsible for the ship design, including the form, structure, and stability of hulls.
Marine engineers and naval architects held about 8,300 jobs in 2014. They 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 on ships to test or maintain the ships that they have designed or built.
How to Become a Marine Engineer or Naval Architect
Marine engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering, marine systems engineering, or marine engineering technology, and naval architects typically need a bachelor’s degree in naval architecture. Employers also value practical experience, so cooperative education programs, which provide college credit for structured job experience, are valuable.
Employment of marine engineers and naval architects is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. The need to design environmentally-friendly ships and systems to transport energy products, such as liquefied natural gas, across the globe will help to spur employment growth for this occupation.
This occupation supported 7,300 jobs in 2012 and 8,300 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 13.7%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 11.0% in 2022 to 8,100 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 7,400, compared with an observed value of 8,300, 12.2% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 9.6% in 2024 to 9,000 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 8,200 jobs for 2024, 8.9% lower than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much better than the 2012 trend within this occupation.