Radio on ship

Naval Architect

Maritime SuperSkills

European Social Fund Logo Maritime SuperSkills logo

Occupational profile

This occupation is found in various small, medium and large organisations within the marine sector, including government departments (particularly the Ministry of Defence), boat and ship builders/repairers, companies that construct and repair smaller vessels, ship design consultants, offshore constructors, ship survey/regulatory societies, classification societies, small commercial vessel certifying authorities, companies that maintain/repair naval submarines and ships, research organisations such as universities, port authorities, marine insurers, shipping companies, maritime and coastguard agencies.

The broad purpose of the occupation is the design and technical responsibility for the construction and maintenance of ships, boats, other marine vessels and offshore structures, both civil and military. This includes assessing requirements, producing detailed designs, negotiating budgets, implementing test procedures, providing technical advice to assure compliance to maritime standards and communicating effectively with all stakeholders. A Naval Architect may work on a variety of marine vessels and offshore structures, including merchant ships - Oil/Gas Tankers, Cargo Ships, Cruise Liners, Passenger/Vehicle Ferries; Warships - Frigates, Destroyers, Aircraft Carriers, Amphibious Ships, Submarines and Underwater Vehicles; Offshore drilling platforms, Semi Submersibles, Floating Production Storage and Offloading units (FPSOs); High Speed Craft - Hovercraft, Multi-Hull Ships, Hydrofoil Craft; Workboats - Fishing Vessels, Tugs, Pilot Vessels, Rescue Craft; Yachts, Power Boats and other recreational craft.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with a broad range of external contacts such as ship owners, classification societies, flag state, shipyards, ship operators and charterers, insurers, customers, marine solicitors, equipment suppliers. They also interact with internal employees in finance, project managers, maintenance and engineers. The role is dynamic in terms of its location, office-based at the start of a project with some on-site visits during construction, repair and operation. Depending on the employer and project, the Naval Architect may be required to work outdoors or at heights.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for ensuring that a safe, economic and seaworthy design is produced. In addition, to ensure the design intent of any given marine structure or vessel is maintained through modification, maintenance, repair or decommissioning and for improving vessel performance and reducing environmental impact through research and development. The Naval Architect typically manages a team of engineers responsible for the output (such as the design team) and would report to the Product / Build Manager, or whoever has overall responsibility for the final vessel or structure, who may also be a Naval Architect. The Naval Architect is also responsible for managing budgets, depending on the size and structure of the organisation, and for safety.

Developing an apprenticeship standard

Each apprenticeship standard is created by ‘Trailblazer’ groups of employers, interested in the occupation under development. These employer groups work together to develop the standard and the associated assessment plan. There are a number of stages to the process of developing a standard, and each stage is approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA).

First, an ‘expression of interest’ (EOI) is submitted for approval, describing the occupation and the duties involved. Next, the apprenticeship standard is developed, detailing the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) required to become fully competent in the occupation. Finally, an assessment plan is created which describes the assessment methods to be used for each of the KSBs listed. Once all of these stages have been approved, the IFA allocates a funding band for the standard and the standard is ready to use.

An expression of interest for the Naval Architect standard has now been approved and the Trailblazer group are currently working on developing the standard – find out more.