Marine Engineer or Naval Architect

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Job Outlook:
Little or no change
Education: Bachelor's degree
High: $150,260.00
Average: $105,560.00
Average: $50.75

What they do:

Design, develop, and evaluate the operation of marine vessels, ship machinery, and related equipment, such as power supply and propulsion systems.

On the job, you would:

  • Design complete hull and superstructure according to specifications and test data, in conformity with standards of safety, efficiency, and economy.
  • Supervise other engineers and crew members and train them for routine and emergency duties.
  • Study design proposals and specifications to establish basic characteristics of craft, such as size, weight, speed, propulsion, displacement, and draft.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Marine engineers and naval architects must give clear instructions and explain complex concepts when leading projects.

Ingenuity. Marine engineers and naval architects must use operations analysis to create a design to perform the ship’s functions. They then employ critical-thinking skills to anticipate and correct any deficiencies before the ship is built or set to sea.

Interpersonal skills. Marine engineers and naval architects meet with clients to analyze their needs for ship systems. Engineers must discuss progress with clients to keep redesign options open before the project is too far along.

Math skills. Marine engineers and naval architects use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Marine engineers must design several systems that work well together in ships. Naval architects and marine engineers are expected to solve problems for their clients. They must draw on their knowledge and experience to make effective decisions.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

86% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
86% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
85% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
82% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
81% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
76% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
76% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
74% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
71% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
70% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
70% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
70% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


97% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
78% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

78% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
75% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
75% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
70% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
64% Support  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

75% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
75% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
75% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
74% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
74% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
74% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
74% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
72% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
69% Mathematical Reasoning  -  The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
69% Visualization  -  The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
69% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
67% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

69% Mathematics  -  Using mathematics to solve problems.
68% Reading Comprehension  -  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

Job Details

Design structures or facilities.
Supervise engineering or other technical personnel.
Review technical documents to plan work.
Monitor processes for compliance with standards.
Direct construction activities.
Evaluate characteristics of equipment or systems.
Schedule operational activities.
Prepare detailed work plans.
Prepare contracts, disclosures, or applications.
Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
Maintain electronic equipment.
Create graphical representations of structures or landscapes.
Evaluate characteristics of equipment or systems.
Communicate with others to coordinate vehicle movement.
Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
Inspect equipment or systems.
Create graphical representations of structures or landscapes.
Monitor processes for compliance with standards.
Maintain operational records or records systems.
Coordinate safety or regulatory compliance activities.
Devise research or testing protocols.
Direct installation activities.
Direct equipment maintenance or repair activities.
Prepare technical reports for internal use.
Purchase materials, equipment, or other resources.
Prepare technical reports for internal use.
Communicate technical information to suppliers, contractors, or regulatory agencies.
Maintain mechanical equipment.
Confer with other personnel to resolve design or operational problems.
Confer with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans.
Research advanced engineering designs or applications.
Devise research or testing protocols.
Review technical documents to plan work.
Analyze design or requirements information for mechanical equipment or systems.
Schedule operational activities.
Evaluate characteristics of equipment or systems.
Design electromechanical equipment or systems.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

93% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
93% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
93% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
86% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
84% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
78% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
78% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
77% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
75% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
72% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
70% Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets  -  How much does this job require wearing common protective or safety equipment such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets?
70% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
70% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
69% Letters and Memos  -  How often does the job require written letters and memos?
75% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

85% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
85% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
82% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
80% Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment  -  Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
77% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
76% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
75% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
74% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
70% Communicating with People Outside the Organization  -  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
70% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
69% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
68% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
67% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
66% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
65% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

What Marine Engineers and Naval Architects Do

Marine engineers and naval architects
Marine engineers and naval architects may work directly on ships.

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.


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.

Work Environment

Marine engineers and naval architects held about 8,000 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of marine engineers and naval architects were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services 42%
Federal government, excluding postal service 15
Water transportation 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.

Getting Started


How to Become a Marine Engineer or Naval Architect

Marine engineers and naval architects
Marine engineers and naval architects must give clear instructions and explain complex concepts when leading projects.

Marine engineers and naval architects typically need a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering and naval architecture, respectively, or a related field, such as engineering. Some marine engineering and naval architecture programs are offered at state maritime academies.


High school students interested in becoming a marine engineer or naval architect should take classes in math, such as algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; and science, such as chemistry and physics. If available, drafting courses may be helpful for aspiring naval architects.

College students interested in this occupation typically pursue a degree in an engineering field. Programs in marine engineering and naval architecture usually include courses in computer-aided design, fluid mechanics, ship hull strength, and mechanics of materials. Most programs also include time at sea, during which students gain hands-on experience on a vessel.

Some marine engineering and naval architecture programs are offered at state maritime academies. Students studying at the maritime academies spend time at sea, usually during the summer, to gain onboard operating experience. For more information about state maritime academies, visit the Maritime Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Employers may prefer to hire candidates who graduate from a program accredited by a professional association such as ABET.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Along with earning a bachelor’s degree, students at states’ maritime academies take exams for licensure from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Another type of engineering license is the Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence and can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE).

Other Experience

Employers also value practical experience, so cooperative education programs and internships, which provide college credit or structured job experience, can be helpful in getting a job in this occupation.


Beginning marine engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In larger companies, new engineers also may receive formal training in classrooms or seminars. As beginning engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move on to more difficult projects, on which they have greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.

Eventually, marine engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some may even become engineering managers or move into other managerial positions or sales work. In sales, an engineering background enables them to discuss technical aspects of certain kinds of engineering projects. Such knowledge is also useful in assisting clients in project planning, installation, and use. For more information, see the profiles on architectural and engineering managers and sales managers.

Job Outlook

Employment of marine engineers and naval architects is projected to show little or no change from 2022 to 2032.

Despite limited employment growth, about 400 openings for marine engineers and naval architects are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Marine engineers and naval architects are expected to be needed to help design ships and port facilities that meet increasingly strict international emissions standards. In addition, as offshore wind energy projects become more feasible, marine engineers and naval architects are expected to be needed to provide expertise for the construction of wind platforms.

Contacts for More Information

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


Similar Occupations

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 2022
Aerospace engineers Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace engineers design, develop, and test aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles.

Bachelor's degree $126,880
Electrical and electronics engineers Electrical and Electronics Engineers

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

Bachelor's degree $104,610
Mechanical engineers Mechanical Engineers

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

Bachelor's degree $96,310
Petroleum engineers Petroleum Engineers

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

Bachelor's degree $131,800

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

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