Job prospects in NA after 40

Discussion in 'Education' started by JohnTitor, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. JohnTitor
    Joined: Apr 2015
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    JohnTitor New Member

    Hi Everyone !

    Would really appreciate if any of you guys could advise me on the job prospects as a Naval Architect after 40 (yes I'm quite old)

    I'm considering doing a MEng in NA from Canada, reason being its a one year course as opposed to two years elsewhere and I already have a family to support. I don't think I stand a chance of finding suitable employment as a NA without the MEng degree (if any of you more experienced guys think the contrary please let me know)

    I'm a marine chief engineer and sailed on ocean going vessels for most of my career earlier it used to be container ships and car carriers and then later I switched over to DP class offshore vessels (because of the shorter contracts) for a few years before completely quitting sailing. I then took up a job as a Technical Superintendent for a shipping company and was assigned to the lpg fleet.

    I'd like to make the transition to naval architect. Would this be possible at my age? Also I'm targeting Memorial University and UBC in Canada because of the one year course? I looked at UK as well (one year there as well) but unemployment is just too high.

    Does anyone have any recommendations or opinion as to whether its possible for me to make the switch at this age and if I'm going about it in the right way?

    Thanks

    JT
     
  2. Ad Hoc
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    Hi JT

    Welcome to the forum.

    If you're considering doing an MEng...does this mean you already have a BEng or BSc, in an engineering related subject?
     
  3. JohnTitor
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    JohnTitor New Member

    Hi Ad Hoc,

    Thank you for your reply.

    Yes I do have a BEng but its in Marine Engineering. Do you have any suggestions? Is it worth trying to make the transition, what are the employment prospects like?

    Thanks

    JT
     
  4. Ad Hoc
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    Hi JT

    I have several friends who are NAs but do not have a degree in NA. They have the same as you a BEng in Mech/Marine Engineering. If you wish to be a NA you can just apply directly to companies and see what response you get.

    Alternatively,if design per se, is not what you wish you can easily apply for jobs with Classification societies.

    Then there are the larger companies, like Oil & Gas....again a NA degree would not be a prerequisite.

    Your background and experience in all things related to marine would be a major advantage here, especially in the heavier engineering side, rather than the small boat design.

    Your experience will carry sufficient weight with companies who value the experience. The degree is just the "basic tools"..most of which can be acquired on the job with your background in the right company. Just depends what kind of NA you wish to do...
     
  5. cmckesson
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    cmckesson Naval Architect

    Greetings John. I am one of the instructors in the UBC M.Eng program.

    First, regarding the overlap between your Marine Engineers credential, and the NA curriculum, I think you will find that the NA curriculum contains a lot of material not covered in your license preparation. Specifically this include ship hydrodynamics that are not usually included in Mar. Eng.

    Regarding employment: I actually recently contacted my former employers and said "Now that I am approaching 60 years old, I need to meet the younger, say 40 year old practitioners in the field. Can you introduce me?" The reply was "We wish we had some."

    There is a gap, with my generation now approaching retirement, and good cadre of 20-somethings, but a lack of people in the middle. I think the job market is good. Contact me off line and I can provide you some industry people whom you could contact, yourself.

    Finally, one of the attractions of the 40 year old is the maturity and life experience. Such people are likely to end up in technical leadership roles very quickly. So much so that UBC has designed a new program aimed exactly at this market, which is described here: http://www.calendar.ubc.ca/vancouver/index.cfm?tree=12,195,968,0

    Good luck in your search. I greatly enjoyed my 30 years as an NA...so much so that I started a second career as an academic, specifically to say "I had a great time. Come on in."

    I welcome a direct contact if you would like.

    Chris McKesson
     
  6. rxcomposite
    Joined: Jan 2005
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    rxcomposite Senior Member

    40 years is not old, you are just starting.;)

    Ex Merchant mariners (retired Masters and CE) do good as Marine surveyors and most third party marine surveyors company would hire you without additional degree.

    I have seen the works of a shipping technical superintendent. Not good. Long hours, 24/7, on call call even on strange hours of the night. Ships come and go at different hours of the day.

    Well, a 3rd party marine surveyors have at least a batting average of regular working hours but they do get assigned offshore, sometimes on a 3 day stint. Travel is frequent and offshore assignment is common.

    Class societies hire from Engineers to Master Mariners. Class surveyors works regular office hours most of the time. It is the Class office that dictates time available. Only rarely when it is of a tight time constraint that they work odd hours.
     
  7. DavidJ
    Joined: Jun 2004
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    DavidJ Senior Member

    As Ad Hoc said it really depends on what kind of naval architecture you want to do.

    As others have said many naval architect grads are hired by class societies and gov't organizations, such as Transport Canada, as surveyors and inspectors. You would not require any additional education to step into those same roles.

    I don't know what specific tasks you do now in your job but I'd imagine a technical superintendent for a shipping company is probably a fairly similar job to what many senior naval architects do. Supervision, project management, report writing, proposal writing, technical document production, liaise with suppliers and subcontractors, that sort of thing. If you have a decent resume and find the right opening you could probably step right into that same sort of role without any further education. I've worked with several project managers as well as more senior managers both at shipyards and design offices who were marine engineers and did not have mechanical engineering or naval architecture degrees.

    Some naval architects (as well as other types of engineers) who don't particularly want to move into management positions often become subject matter experts. They are the guy that knows everything about stability software or structural design or regulations or 3D modeling or FEA or CFD, etc. You could still become that type of guy but you are probably looking at 10 to 15 or more years of experience doing that before you could really consider yourself to be an expert.

    Most new nav arch grads start in a similar spot. Depending on the company they are at and the projects they are involved in they may do some stability work or produce weight estimates or do structural calculations or produce construction drawings or any combination of that sort of stuff. None of this is particularly exciting work. It's all fairly repetitive and requires exacting details. Over time these nav archs will gravitate towards the aspect they are more suited for. Some people really excel at structural design while others have a good head for stability analysis or whatever. They may still bounce around from one aspect to another depending on the projects the company is working on but usually most people have a specialty. Also over time some of these nav archs move more towards the management side and some move more towards the subject matter expert side. There is always a lot of overlap with many managers also possessing a substantial amount of knowledge in certain aspects and some subject matter experts also being project managers.
     
  8. JohnTitor
    Joined: Apr 2015
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    JohnTitor New Member

    Hello Everyone,

    I am sorry for this late reply (I was traveling) & thank you all for taking the time to reply.

    Hi Ad Hoc

    I had in fact done what you suggested but I didn't receive any favorable response from any company. The best response I received was being hired as a new building inspector/ supervisor for 5 DP class vsls in china on a 12 month contract.

    I do hope to capitalize on my experience but as you rightly mentioned its more on the heavy engineering (maintenance/operation) so I don't know if it would be considered relevant as I'm more interested in the design aspect of NA

    With regard to classification societies you are correct in that they do hire master mariners and marine chief engineers, but I believe the age limit is 35-36 for the position of class surveyor as its a physically demanding job . I had considered this a few years ago and gone for the interview but the pay was just too low at the time. Anyway whats done is done.

    I was hoping if I get a masters I might be able to find work in the design department, as that's where I'd like to be and I currently know nothing about design especially computer aided design plus the degree might help me when I'm considered for promotions. As I get older I'd like to move away from the operation/maintenance, crawling in DB tanks, cycling around the shipyard from shop to shop type of job ...

    Hi Dr. Mckesson,

    I have seen the syllabus and as you rightly said it does contain a lot of coursework which was not covered in my license examinations.

    Good to hear there's a generation gap between the older and younger NA's .... might put me in a better position to find work.

    The leadership course you mentioned says "pending approval", is there any tentative date on when they would take a decision on this?

    I shall certainly contact you and would be grateful for you advice as you have decades of experience & are very well qualified. (read your profile)

    Hi Rxcomposite,

    Thanks for your kind words .... especially about my age ... gives me hope.

    Class surveyor would probably be difficult at my age ... third party surveyors is certainly possible and does involve less travel than that of my current position and they do work 0900-1700 ... you're spot on.

    I'm more inclined to get into ship design something physically less demanding, and I don't know anything about it so that's why I'd like to do the course otherwise (as far as I know) no one would hire me for this particular position. At least that's what i think. I could perhaps do the courses from westlawn or macnaughton but I don't know if they're accredited by a govt. or professional association like RINA and whether they're recognized by the industry.

    Hi David,

    I'd like to get into ship design, as I mentioned above I might be a bit old for classification societies, its a physically demanding job, so they generally want younger people. Its also more of an inspection/survey sort of job especially the first few years.

    I'd like to move away from the physical aspect and more to an office environment, other than this I also would enjoy designing or approving designs.

    As you said it probably isn't very exciting work, but I've already seen the other side (exciting side).

    Actually I should have mentioned in my first post what the chances are of me finding work at 40 in "ship design" as a NA with my background, and if it would be possible without further study.

    Thanks to all.
     

  9. cmckesson
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    Location: Vancouver BC

    cmckesson Naval Architect

    Hi John. The leadership course has just arrived at Parliament, where it has to be subjected to a public comment period of 30 days, and sundry other bureaucratic wickets. This means that nobody can say for sure when (or if) it will be approved. But I do know that the office is accept pre-applications for a January 2016 start.

    Please do contact me - my coordinates are easy to find on the internet. Remind me when you call, and I will also put you in contact with some friends in the design community so that you can get multiple opinions. Most of my career contacts are in the defense sector in Washington DC, but I have a growing collection here in the Pacific NorthWest who have a more commercial / less military perspective. I'll be happy to pass some names and phone numbers.

    Err...if you call and I don't answer, please do leave a voice mail. My schedule is very choppy due to end of term clean up on the one hand, and preparing my own boat for our summer cruise, on the other hand.

    Best wishes,

    Chris
     
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