What is a Watercraft Designer?

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A watercraft designer creates, sketches, designs, and sometimes even helps sell boats and ships. These highly trained professionals often work for boat or ship building businesses, engineering or architecture firms, or the military. They can also work on their own or as consultants. The position requires a rare combination of creative abilities coupled with business sense.

Most watercraft designers have either bachelor’s or master’s degrees in architecture, design, or engineering. Some of the more experienced designers also have backgrounds in business and industrial design. The best and most accomplished designers have not only impressive technical knowledge, but also keen and creative artistic eyes.

What is required?
As we mentioned, most designers have either bachelor’s or master’s degrees in architecture, industrial design, or engineering (preferably marine engineering). However, some designers have degrees in other fields and return to school later to complete master’s degrees in either marine engineering or industrial design. So it is not imperative that you have an undergraduate degree in watercraft design to become a designer, but if this is the case you will need to complete field specific postgraduate work.

The courses or classes a watercraft designer typically takes on his/her way to a degree include: physics, engineering, fluid dynamics, manufacturing, mathematics, and computer design. It is also imperative that a watercraft design student complete an internship for a watercraft design or architectural firm.

Basic Skills
Just like any engineer, a watercraft designer is expected to possess that rare, sought after combination of both analytical and creative skills. It is also important for prospective designers to have exemplary problem solving skills and talent for mechanics. Most good designers are hands on individuals who enjoy the creative and mechanical aspects of the process. They believe in building functional and artistic boats and ships. Because they will be interacting with professionals from a number of different fields and backgrounds, it is important that watercraft designers have excellent communication skills. Often they will have to explain to builders, architects, and engineers exactly what they want and need and this requires patience and an ability to see the other side.

As technology advances, it has also become important, nay essential, that watercraft designers have a firm understanding and experience with 3-D computer design programs. In fact, some companies will not even consider hiring you unless you know this software inside and out.

The Market
Over the past few decades watercraft design has become a growing field and competition for jobs is often high due to the increased availability of design programs at some of the top colleges and universities. In fact, these programs are graduating more industrial design students than ever before. The average starting salary for a watercraft design graduate is forty thousand dollars. But because this is an industry based more on real world results than diplomas and advanced degrees, the salary grows exponentially once a designer proves that he/she can successfully complete a project. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a watercraft designer is about sixty-eight thousand dollars.

If you are an individual who is interested in studying watercraft design in school, it is important to know that this is an industry that is based mostly in coastal regions. Therefore, the number of available jobs is always going to be greater in places like California and Florida than they will be in the Midwest.
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