Naval Architect Kaihoahoa Tāruru

Naval architects plan, design and supervise the construction and repair of ships, yachts and boats.

Membership of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects is recommended. 

Naval architects may do some or all of the following:

  • create or adapt designs, drawings, written plans and technical calculations for ships, yachts or boats
  • check designs align with safety regulations
  • consult with clients, professionals and government officials on designs
  • write reports on whether a design is possible
  • conduct computer simulation and physical tests
  • manage the design and building process of boats and ships
  • oversee repairs, changes and upgrades
  • manage shipyards.

Naval architects may also help develop laws for the marine industry and provide expert advice for court cases.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for naval architects includes:

  • boating experience
  • boat building or general construction work
  • draughting or use of design and CAD software
  • architectural or engineering work
  • shipyard work.

Personal Qualities

Naval architects need to be:

  • creative
  • practical
  • mechanically minded
  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to work well under pressure
  • good at maths and physics
  • able to write reports
  • good communicators.


Naval architects need to have knowledge of:

  • different styles of boats, yachts and ships
  • boat building methods and structural engineering
  • boat building materials, including the ways various materials perform in different situations
  • hydrodynamics (water pressures and flows) and aerodynamics (air pressure and flows) and the effect they can have on vessels
  • boat handling, marine standards and safety regulations
  • design, draughting and sketching skills
  • computer-aided design (CAD) and 3-D modelling programs.

Self-employed naval architects also need to have business skills.


Naval architects:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work long hours to meet deadlines
  • work in offices, workshops and shipyards, or work from home
  • may travel around New Zealand and overseas to visit work sites and meet with clients or contractors.

Naval Architects can earn around $62K-$78K per year.

Pay for naval architects varies depending on experience.

  • Newly graduated naval architects usually earn $62,000 to $78,000 a year.
  • Naval architects with three to six years' experience can earn between $85,000 and $110,000.
  • Naval architects with more than six years' experience can earn up to $150,000 or more.

Naval architects who are self-employed may earn more depending on the success of their business.

Source: Royal Institution of Naval Architects, 2022.

Naval architects may progress to set up their own design business, or move into management roles.

Years Of Training

4 years of training required.

To become a naval architect you need to have a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) majoring in Maritime Engineering (Level 8).

The degree is delivered by Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in partnership with the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania.

You can specialise in:

  • marine and offshore engineering
  • naval architecture
  • ocean engineering. 
Naval Architect