Advice for Someone Intersted in Entry Level Boat Design?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Chris Ray, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. Chris Ray
    Joined: Jan 2009
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    Chris Ray Junior Member

    Anyone have some good advice for getting into the boat design industry? I have a BFA in Graphic Design and Computer Design and am looking to make a career change. My long-term goal is to be a boat designer. Where should I start? What classes do I take? Are there any companies out there willing to help me learn on the job? What is the market for boat designers these days? What cities are best for this type of career? Any help is much appreciated.
     
  2. Tad
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Tad Boat Designer

    Chris...

    First off scroll down to the Employment and Education section of this Forum. Read every thread in the Education section....there are 430 of them...most ask the same questions you have.

    Boat design is no industry....right now hundreds of people who design/engineer and build boats are being laid off, companies are folding...prospects are dismal at best.
     
  3. Chris Ray
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    Chris Ray Junior Member

    Tad,

    Thanks for pointing out the Employment and Education section. I will read thru them carefully over time but can't get pulled down by the current state of the industry. Hopefully like my investment guru says "it will bounce back over time - you have to stay in it to reap the benifits in the long run" I am placing my bets that I am starting off at the right time and have the oppertunity to learn form someone or take the time to get a formal degree while the times are tough. Hopefully, when the industry gets going again - I will be in a position to really grab ahold of the rings and hold on for the long haul.

    Thanks again for your post!
     
  4. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    Chris...

    Okay....you passed the "gloom & doom, ya can't do it" test....good work :D

    Now...when I said boat design is no industry, what I meant was that it is filled with niche businesses. Your educational/experience path will depend on where you think you might like to end up. For instance Farr (racing sailboats) in Annapolis is hiring very different people than Trinity (mega motoryachts) in Savannah.

    With what you have you may be able to find something with a large firm or builder. I believe Christensen is (or was) building a large new plant in Tennessee. Trinity is another large builder who may need a person with your abilities. Once you're in the door start taking the Westlawn (correspondence) course to upgrade your qualifications.

    Don't send these guys an email - show up on the doorstep with a laptop and show them what you can do. Show them you are serious.

    Good luck.
     
  5. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

  6. Fanie
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Fanie Fanie

    Chris,

    If that is what you really want to do, then follow your heart. People will always want boats, if you set out to be good with what you do and you can bear the lonelyness, you may one day work for yourself building boats.

    If you're in it (any job for that matter) for any other reason then forget it.
     

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  7. Joe Petrich
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    Joe Petrich Designer

    Chris,

    Everyone here has posted good advice. It's a tough market to break into, especially now, but well worthwhile if you love boats.

    Since you already have your bachelors degree, either The Landing School or Westlawn would work. If you are not tied down as Eric mentioned, the landing School would be a good choice. With the economy in the dumper now would be a good time to go to school (if you can afford it). When things ease up in a year or two you will be ready to be employed with fresh skills.

    If you want a full Naval Architecture degree by all means go for it but try to tailor your studies to suit small craft design rather than shipbuilding if possible. This avenue will probably take the longest time.

    Geographically the Northeast, Northwest and Southeast parts of the country seem to have the most boat builders.

    From day one go out on boats of all kinds as much as you can. Experience in knowing how a vessel operates, what its motions are like, etc are invaluable. For example go to your local yacht club and offer to crew on a racing sailboat, or take a job as a deckhand on a charter fishing boat. Ask friends to take you out on their boat. Absorb all you can.

    When you are ready, make up a portfolio of your best work and start pounding the pavement. E-mail does work if you can include an electronic portfolio, but follow up with a resume and 8.5" x 11" prints of your work as well.

    Good luck on your endeavor,
    Joe
     
  8. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Chris,

    You may wish to contact my friend, Michael Schacht at his website, http://proafile.com

    Micahel came up through a similar education and interest path as you and may be able to share some thoughts with you on the process he experienced along the way. Michael is one very talented guy with a strong desire to produce sustainable products. We need more folks like him.

    I have come out of a photography and cinema education and lengthy work experience to arrive at my boat design present. I'll be happy to share any of that background and what I've learned while involved with boat design, if you might find it useful for your journey.

    Best,
     
  9. Fanie
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    Fanie Fanie

    Geezzz we're only preaching to the poor bloke :D Now when I was your age... :D

    I think too many people that get degrees and all these fancy qualifications just end up being pen pushers.

    Nothing like the smell of polyester and getting really dirty, tacky and itchy every now and again to open up the veins, and that's exactly what I said to the neighbour's wife in the shower the other day ;)
     
  10. Joe Petrich
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    Joe Petrich Designer

    Oh yeah, and go work in a boat shop so you know how to design the details.

    Joe
     
  11. robherc
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    robherc Designer/Hobbyist

    Heck, while you're doing all this learning (if you have the money), try designing and building your own (small) boat. Being about 75% through this process myself, I can tell you with absolute certainty that you'll gain an immense amount of "understanding" by going through the entire process, from concept to finished boat, single-handedly one time. Then, if you're as crazy as me, you'll already have designs for at least 2 more boats drawn up, and a healthy (or is that UNhealthy) urge to begin construction on the next one.

    For me, it quickly became a love-affair with simply CREATING something...the journey is worth more than the destination. But, then again, I'm retired military, so I have nothing but time. ;)

    Oh yeah, fair warning, the learning curve is STEEP if you go about it this way...much better to have a bit of education under your belt before you start!
     
  12. Ad Hoc
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    "..good advice for getting into the boat design industry.."

    Well, which area of the industry for a start, it is eclectic..!
     
  13. alex folen
    Joined: Jan 2009
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    alex folen Flynpig

    Nice site ya got there Eric Spon. I’d think like I do with experimental airplane design. I don’t look at it as a career if I’m the instigator. It’s a hobby with rewarding results, and get this, I’m not getting paid! >>>Buying fiberglass for a fuselage modification, $255.00. Buying 25 gallons of fuel at Palatka for the test flight, $75.00. Flying something you built, Priceless!

    A lot may come out of the passion, money also.
     
  14. Chris Ray
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    Chris Ray Junior Member

    Thanks for the replys

    Thanks again to all that have taken the time to reply to my post. I was fortunate enought to cross paths with an Edmond Glowacki in Jacksonville FL in my phone and internet searches towards reaching my goal. He was the one that recommended this site and I am greatful for his time and honest advise. This forum is a great place for me to learn and pick up any tidbits that you are willing to provide and thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts. I look forward to reading future posts and hopefully getting a chance to meet each of you during the course of the next few years.
     

  15. Chris Ray
    Joined: Jan 2009
    Posts: 5
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    Location: Memphis

    Chris Ray Junior Member

    Thanks for the replys

    Thanks again to all that have taken the time to reply to my post. I was fortunate enought to cross paths with an Edmond Glowacki in Jacksonville FL in my phone and internet searches towards reaching my goal. He was the one that recommended this site and I am greatful for his time and honest advise. This forum is a great place for me to learn and pick up any tidbits that you are willing to provide and thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts. I look forward to reading future posts and hopefully getting a chance to meet each of you during the course of the next few years.
     
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