View Full Version : career prospects very limited??? read this link provided!

01-31-2006, 03:31 AM

01-31-2006, 06:19 AM
hi dis is sheetal frm India.can u pl tell me more bout da boat design. im pursin my masters in aerodynamics and submarines

11-14-2006, 09:17 AM
Hi All,

Yup, according to this post, this guy is not happy at his job. He probably had a bad experience recently, and is emotional about it. Just while we shouldn't make decisions when we're emotional, niether should we make decisions based on someone else who is emotional.

My point is: there are plenty of negative responses to sincere and earnest questions on this forum and elsewhere. May I suggest you note them, file them in your memory for the future, and keep going.

If it's your ambition to do something, then you'd better do it. If you don't, you'll be wondering about it for the rest of your life.


11-15-2006, 05:19 AM
not a happy chap

11-17-2006, 07:37 AM
What this man wrote can seem pessimistic.However he said true things. Designing a boat very seriously requires a lot of time and a lot of personnal investement because you have to build the boat in your mind and the try to re-transcript it on the paper. When you have to cover the all range of components which are on your new craft ,kind of nautical object for which everything has to be thought , an object that has living accomodations and that must run to a given speed ,that must float aright,that must be strong enough....I don't say its impossible but it requires hard work and you live with the boat in your mind during the design process.So I understand what he said.And this is not something that makes you inevitably happy. It can make you sad especielly when your idea do not mach public's taste or style/concept trends of the moment.;) But to all folks that are designing a boat in this moment,keep courage! :rolleyes: lucas.

11-21-2006, 05:41 PM

I am receiving what you're sending, and I respect the original post, it is informative and shows how the industry can be. It's important to research the industry while you are studying in school or preparing credentials, to see where you'll fit in.

11-22-2006, 03:46 AM
That's not how I see things. For me, and it is the way I proceed, the idea of a new boat does not come to fulfill a void in a range of boat of a given brand that would have opportunities to be bought by the max number of customers.
I find the enregy to create a boat cause its shape (sup,deck&hull) that I project in my head, is making me emotion feelings.It is not something I think of in terms of rentability but it is something I have the envy or strong willing to invest myself just because the shape or the style I imagined provides me good vibrations, like love thoughts. It is in fact purely egoist. The boat Xao which you can see in the gallery;I had had the envy along more than a year, to keep on going with that craft ,to keep on working maybe for nothiing, simply for the pleasure I have to for instance see that boat in rhino, that boat that I create,with all sometimes naive things,some things on that boat maybe not easy to build in reality, those weakness comes perhaps from the pictures I have of boats for a long time ( I ve got old rusted cargos in les sables,I ve got med. emergency speed boats in venezia) I have got night pictures in my head of illuminated river boat) and those pictures wich are a emmotional basis add themselves with yacht design method and rules I learn at westlawn. No doubt I am on the artistic way concerning yacht design ie that emotion comes first. Bye

11-25-2006, 04:32 PM
I can sympathize with the poster of the comments on re job prospects in naval architecture. This bleak picture has certainly not been our experience at Westlawn, however. Though Westlawn never promises employment to any student, the fact is we usually have more job listings than our graduates can fill, and many of our graduates have had (and are having) long and rewarding careers.

Here are a few excerpts from comments by our alumni:

“Westlawn gave me the training, background and confidence to make the jump from a yacht carpenter to a yacht designer. I have worked as Chief Engineer at Mako Marine, designing flats boats to cabin cruisers. As the Designer and Prototype Manager for Pursuit. And have been at Jamestown Metal Marine Sales for the past 10 years.

I started in the marine industry 30 years ago, as a carpenter building plank-on-frame sport fishing yachts in South Florida. Today I am a Project Engineer for a major outfitting company. Some of my projects include the SBX, part of our Missile defense system, the DDG program at Bath, the new Woods Hole Ferry under construction at Halter, Polar Tankers constructed at Avondale, Articulated Tug Barges under construction at Bender.

As a Project Engineer I supervise a staff of designers who have attended various institutions None match the background and depth I got from Westlawn I would like to find Westlawn students interested in ship interiors, outfitting and/or HVAC to employ here at Jamestown.

The training I received Westlawn has been responsible for my career, not only the knowledge in vessel design, but also the work habits of self motivation and extra effort.

Has my Westlawn training been useful?

Yes, worth every penny, every hour of extra effort.”
Follow the link below to read all of D.C. Reiher’s comments:
D. C. Reiher – November 2006
Project Engineer
Jamestown Metal Marine Sales, Inc.

“Occasionally someone will ask, "How did you get into yacht design?” It's not an easy question to answer to the layman as I'm sure your story and others are as detailed as mine. One thing is sure, Westlawn provided me with the advanced knowledge and inspiration I needed to pursue career interests. In hindsight, without the technical yacht design experience Westlawn taught me it would have difficult at best to even get a foot in the door. This industry, especially then, is tight-nit and requires very specialized trades to participate. Westlawn uses a practical approach to teaching and this is reflected in the course material. It is a great tool for designing because of its practicality. I use it quite often in my designs as there is no one resource that has as much information and tools available for that specific purpose. The bonus is the historic designs and designers that are often referred to in the material. All of these things are reasons why it is a valued yacht design reference."
Geoff van Aller - February 2006
Chief Designer
Trinity Yachts
Gulfport, MS

“Since I have added Yacht Design Lite to my resume I have had several job offers from different companies and even a promotion with the company I am employed with now. If any one is wondering if it would be beneficial to complete the program, I would say YES.”
Charles Bursk – November 2005
Tiara Yachts
Holland Michigan

“Just thought I'd drop you a note to congratulate you on your 75th anniversary. While I never did graduate, I did study the Westlawn course for six years. It was a great foundation for my career!

I enrolled in Westlawn in 1968 while still in the Navy, completing my lessons at sea in the chart room of the ship. I continued studying until August of 1974 when I had a design published in "Motor Boating & Sailing."

I am currently a NAMS surveyor in Annapolis and have had my own successful business for over 16 years. I have been employed by two yacht yards and the US Navy. I spent three years on the drawing board primarily working for the Navy but doing some independent smaller design projects.

In the last 20 years I have traveled to 40 countries surveying all manner of vessels from ocean going tugs and floating dry docks to yachts and high speed patrol boats.

Many thanks for helping me establish a rewarding and wonderful career.”
John Howell NAMS CMS – November, 2004
Annapolis, MD

There are many more remarkable success stories available for review on the Westlawn website at:

and at:

Dave Gerr
Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology

11-25-2006, 05:53 PM
I was told I was too short to be a specialforces paratrooper at age 17,,,wrong ,I was told you couldent catch enough fish to live on,,,,,,,,,wrong again,,I was told I was too old to start over as a powerlineman....wrong again,,if you listen to sourgrapes you will taste sourgrapes ,,,the Belgian commandos have a saying ( who dares wins ) ,,,,longliner

11-25-2006, 07:55 PM
Thank you gentlemen! I heartily agree with the last two posts, and I look forward to seeing more like them!

Looking at several marine-news websites lately, I've seen reference to the industry forecast improving over the next several years partly due to an aggresive advertising campaign by "discover boating" (maybe others); has anyone else seen that, any insight?

Consider me to not have any marine industry insight right now, so even basic insight is appropriate. :D

Also, since Asia is about to explode economically, do you (collectively) envision a surge in marine production/ a demand for boats/ships? Lately, some west coast designers seem to be working with asian boat yards (not across the board, but enough to get my attention -- Malaysia and China come to mind)...



11-25-2006, 08:42 PM
all ya gotta do is go to a boat show,,,,,,,somebodys is paying somebody to design and build these 500.000 to 100,000,000 boats, who says the industrys in trouble?,longliner

11-27-2006, 06:26 AM
Normal engineering salaries in commercial and military naval architecture can be found through the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average for NA's is mid 70K, slightly higher than engineers in general. Yacht design is too statistically small to be tracked, but in general, the offers I have seen from rec boat builders, from superyacht builders to small outboard motor boat bulders, have been 70%-80% of the comparable salary for a commercial NA. Yacht design firms are offering about 50-60%, though these jobs come up a lot less. However, these are all for degreed naval architects.

(Recently offshore has gone crazy, and some firms are offering 10 year naval architects over $100K with signing/retention bonuses of $90K, but this is pretty far from yacht design.)

As to looking at boat shows, this is a pretty good way of looking at it, but the numbers, when you get through them, aren't real encouraging, since design is such a small fraction of a boat's cost, especially for small outboard boats, and the low and average price end of the industry is in trouble, though superyachts are booming. The general feeling is that though the campaign is working, it is mainly slowing a slide that is due to limited family free time, economics, and competing activities that are more readily accessible, such as RVing, cycling, and so on.

As to Asia, the income distribution is a real problem, with a very few very wealthy people, and large masses just getting by - these latter will want a decent house, a car (or a moped), etc. before they start thinking about boats. Recreational boating is also not culturally a big item in most of Asia, so there is a generation of re-education to do first, so most very wealth folk tend to go for land-type activities first (like the Middle East). There just isn't a tradition of yachting in Asia the way there is in Western Europe and the countries settled by Europeans. There are also various regulatory and practical issues that need to be settled for recreational boating in Asia, such as water access, restrictive operator licensing regimes, etc.

11-27-2006, 11:35 AM
Many thanks Mr Barry;

As always, you're insight is very appreciated, and leaves guys like me to ponder/seek and figure out the safest avenue to approach this crazy industry. I guess hard learned operational risk management will never leave me :) ORM is a useful skill to have in San Diego, I'm finding; the drivers here are nuts, it's taken me two years to learn how to survive on the highways down here. Stay far away if you can!!

I have to agree:

In "exciting" travels through the mid and far east, there was a huge division between the rich and poor, with little inbetween. Japan was more of an exception (Okinawa was more depressed than mainland Japan). It seemed from my limited vantage point, that this held true for ALL of the middle east, southeast asia, and korea. Keep in mind these were not nice parts of these countries, very much the opposite. Masirah- Oman comes to mind, Fort Humphries S. Korea, Manama Bahrain, Islamabad Pakistan, etc... the list goes on. Mopeds were the vehicle of choice in that garden spot of Utaphao, Thailand--but they used elephants for work--so they get some cool points. Yessir, those places were a long way from having fleets of private yachts. Commercially, however, Singapore was wide open, lots of traffic in the straits. The gulf was largely military ships sprinkled with plenty of dhows providing endless hours of entertainment. Dhows were the prominent smallcraft in the far and middle east. Some were pretty large (approx. 50 feet or greater). Commercial boat building yards in Asia may be an avenue for some to seek? Western Europe seemed a much better bet. Good times.

Best Regards, and thanks again,


12-04-2006, 11:33 AM
I read this gentleman's post and it parallels what I experienced as a Controls Engineer in the special machine building field. It became so discouraging that I changed careers in my early 50s. I believe he is telling it like it is for the USA market at least.
Greg Luckett

12-04-2006, 08:04 PM

Got any sea stories about how it is in your market sector?

12-04-2006, 09:50 PM my age I suppose that is mostly what there is anymore. I try to only share them over suds.:rolleyes:

12-04-2006, 11:47 PM
Guinness goes well with sea stories, I find.

It goes well with most other things too. :D

12-07-2006, 09:53 PM
Wow, penthouse to outhouse in one thread!
Is this honesty or pesimism?
I hate this guy is unhappy, been there. Don't want my bubble burst before I get to inflate it. Don't want to piss up a rope either.
I am a boat captain and have made arrangements (financially and otherwise) to devote 1 year, starting in February to the Macnaughton YDS full time. I am 43 years old and as I am sure you can imagine it is somewhat TERRIFYING to make this career change at my age. And this tid bit has taken a bit of the wind out of my sails. I have not posted before because I wanted to wait till I was actually there, although I have already submitted my resignation, am committed totally, and already studying (devouring the required reading). But, I will pipe up now and ask for a little more input from you guys on this subject, if you wouldn t mind taking the time. This is not a spur of the moment decision and has taken much planning as I have a family and bills and love what I do, blah, blah, blah,.
Also, if you don t mind, your opinions on the school.
Thank you in advance for your valuable time.

12-08-2006, 05:18 AM
Cap'n Clay;

Forgive me, I haven't had a drop of coffee yet and it's 3 am...

I think you'll find alot of kindred spirits on this forum. :)

I was thinking the same thing when I saw this post a month ago, and responded in much the same sentiment.

I'm at "the other" design school, just starting out, and not wanting to hear about trouble in the industry. I have noted what the man was saying in the first post, and will try to avoid that situation. I note his advice just like you might note the casualties in the back of professional mariner. I did this same type of thing in the equivalent publications of the aviation industry, and it works pretty well (gives you a pre-loaded game plan if a similar situation arises).

I take what he said as a snapshot of his experience alone in the industry. I know from a small amount of personal experience that this one post doesn't speak for the entire industry. At any rate, it's not stoppin' me. I need some coffee!


12-08-2006, 06:50 AM
Please do not be discouraged, just be sure to go into something with your eyes open to reality rather than the schools' hype (remember how they make their living). I think that there is a need for small boat designers and always will be. In my previous career as a Controls Engineer (something I loved doing in many ways) there are many people making very good livings. I got burned out by the long hours, time away from home, and scumbag company managements and then decided I did not want to live what is left of my life that way. I think many people arrive at this point despite whichever field they have been in. I still do controls engineering work on a contract, small job, basis only.

My recommendation is to live your dream and go with it as long as you can. Tom will teach you a lot and get you started on the path. I am currently taking the Rhino course from YDS as I have ways to make money from those skills. I am uncertain at this point whether to pursue the designing education from YDS or anyone. I like to build small craft and work from existing plan sets more than I like designing of boats. I also like to understand the designer's perspective with boats I build, ergo the probable later taking a COI for small craft design.

Good luck and keep in contact as you pursue your new field/dream:)
Greg Luckett

12-13-2006, 06:22 PM
CaptainClay, I'm a vessel master also and there is a great need for designers of commercial vessels. Most of the Gulf Coast yards would snap you up in a heartbeat once the course is completed. The money is better with commercial vessels also and state of the art design is continually moving forward in creating more efficient vessels for the commercial world.. It's a great place to get experience.
I've known Tom MacNaughton and his family for years since he lived on a schooner in Hilton Head and he is at the top of the heap in yacht design.
Captain D. Lang

12-13-2006, 07:46 PM
Capt. D. Lang,
Your post is very inspirational and provides hope. Thank you.:)

What yards on the Gulf coast are you speaking of? It would be great to know who to send the resumes and job applications to.
Thanks again,
Greg Luckett

12-14-2006, 08:49 AM
Greg, one of the best resources for getting in to the commercial design field is WORK BOAT MAGAZINE. This is a work boat trade journal and it's free. You could try Halter Marine, Engles Shipbuilding and several others. Cruise the internet for shipbuilding companies and make a list. Another good academic resorce is the Seamans Church Institute in New York. I took a shipbuilding course there several years ago and it was excellent.
Being that you have a captains license, get your STCW and radar endorsements. If your license is for 100 tons or higher, you can also work on some of these commercial vessels in the Gulf and make $250 per day plus expenses (starting pay) while you're taking your course. This is excellent exposure to the actual commercial vessel design, powerplants and drives such as Voght Schneider, Z-drive and others. I am on my 6th license renewal and still learning. Almost all deck officers study on their off watch to accomplish higher educational requirements.
The world of yacht design is harder to break into due to the number of people going in that direction. Almost all potential yacht and small boat designers are working at some other job while they're learning. Why not work in the trade that you are also studying for. You'll get to the goal quicker and with a lot more practical experience and knowledge.
With probable plans for starting your own yacht design office in the future, it's always better if you have contacts established in the trade. As an example, DeJong and Lebay Naval Architects in Jacksonville, Florida do a great business in both yacht design and commercial vessels. Commercial vessel design generally brings in higher income than boats or yachts unless you get a contract for a large yacht, and those type commissions are few. I can justify this statement by the yacht market today. Look at only one source,, and you will see almost a 104,000 boats and yachts for sale and few being sold. Conversely, the demand for commercial vessels has created a big back log at almost all of the yards for offshore supply vessels, pushboats, tugs, security RIBs and many other designs.
D. Lang

12-15-2006, 05:30 AM
Susie Bush is a recruiter at Sirius Technical Services, Inc. in Mobile, which recruits into the marine industry.

She would probably be willing to give you some information about what is needed and what is available in the Gulf.

12-15-2006, 07:28 AM
You might contact John Dane, CEO of the Trinity Shipbuilding Group. Vince Almerico is the Chief Naval Architect. They also own Moss Point Marine and some other yards. Lockheed Shipbuilding in Seattle also employs several Naval Architects and Engineers as does Electric Boat Company. You have to exert some personal effort to compile a list of shipbuilding companies and contact them. With a desire to work in the field of ship and boat design, the very first step is to find out if there's a market need for the profession before spending a lot of time and money achieving the educational goal. While the forum can be helpful, personal effort usually pays larger and more meaningful dividends.

12-15-2006, 07:33 AM
Marine Trading International, Toms River, New Jersey, has been working with Taiwan for over 20 years in building Marine Trader Trawlers as have many other boat buildong companies. The opportunities are there, you just have to look for them and develop a network within the industry.

12-17-2006, 08:42 AM
Having pondered these last msgs, I suppose no one is really "snapping up" designers? It sounds like the normal job searching in a limited market at this point. Thanks for the leads, they should be really helpfull to those looking for the work. An interesting fact that has come up here is the demand in the commercial market for designers vs. the non-commercial market. This thread has been very enlightening.:)
Greg Luckett

12-19-2006, 02:06 PM
Yes, experienced designers in the commercial field are being snapped up big time, especially NAs or ME with engineering degrees or trade designers with CAD and ShipConstructor/Tribon/Rebus/Foran etc. There's also some need in superyachts, especially.

But they want experience/degrees or both.

See the job board on

12-27-2006, 06:06 AM
Here is the Bureau of Labor Statistics page for NAME.

It probably mainly represents commercial NAME, not yachts

01-01-2007, 08:22 PM
Sorry it has taken so long to say thanks for the replies, info. and encouragement. I have been offshore for a bit.
I have decided to take this poor guys words with a grain of salt, appreciate his opinion and wish him the best.
I have run bare boat sail charters in the caribbean, live aboard sail/dive charters in the Bahamas, a mini cruise ship in Alaska, N.Z. made jet boat thrill rides, sport fish boats, a head boat, crew boats, utility boats, lightering boats, supply boats,including D.P, in the oilfield, (never did find the gravy boat). I have lived aboard on and off for over 5 years on both power and sail. His post says that you need to have a background in boating or be from a well heeled family... I guess I'll just try and make a go at it with my measley 50 per cent worth of prerequisites and hope for the best.
I am very much looking forward to learning from Mr. Macnaughton and I actually think his "steaming cups of coffee" are a nice touch.:p
Thanks in advance for everything I am sure I will learn from you all as well.
Captain Clay

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