A career in shipbuilding and ship repair can take you all the way to Executive Officer.
Careers in shipbuilding and ship repair in today’s market are all about high tech, high stakes and huge earning potential. In this industry, you’ll have the opportunity to build and repair the most advanced and complex ships in the world — ships that protect our country and provide for our economic security. Wherever you are in your education or skill level, our interactive career path will get you on the right track for an exciting and rewarding career in shipbuilding and repair. Click on the button below to begin exploring your career options, and start building your future now.
At this age, you should be exploring your career options in the shipbuilding and ship repair industry. Do you want to start your career as a welder, a pipefitter, an engineer or a different craft? Although there are shipyards that build military and Coast Guard vessels and others that build commercial boats, the skills you need will depend on the craft or trade that you choose. If possible, attend a career day event and share this hands-on learning experience with your teachers, career coaches, parents and friends.
Once you decide the craft area you would like to explore further, be sure to find out what career and technical education classes your local high school offers and get started on your path to an exciting career in shipbuilding and repair!
Taking career and technical education classes in high school or at a technical center can get you on the fast track to success in meeting your career goals. You can take basic courses that relate to different careers in shipbuilding and ship repair such as welders, fitters, marine electricians, machinists and others. If you successfully complete a program taught by a certified NCCER craft instructor, you can even earn a credential!
These credentials can open the door for you to start your career with a good company that will assist in furthering your education after high school. Some colleges also recognize these credentials and will give you college credit for your successful completions. Either way, you are a step ahead on the path to success.
A degree in engineering can open many doors for you in a shipyard. A number of universities offer engineering-related degrees such as mechanical, electrical, naval architecture, environmental, project engineering, etc. These programs typically include a mix of technical, managerial and business courses. You do not need to have previous shipbuilding experience; you just need to be interested in a fast-paced industry with a lot of growth potential.
More and more colleges are offering craft training classes related to shipbuilding and ship repair. Not only are they offering these classes, but they are offering college credit for successfully completing them. Imagine learning how to master welding, pipefitting, shipfitting or machining while earning college credit. These crafts, and others like them, are taught through hands-on training to allow you to master the skill. When ready, you have the option to find a job in your field of study while attending school. The flexibility of these programs allows the best of both worlds.
Helper Assistant Laborer
If you choose to enter the workforce right after high school, chances are you will start your career as a craft helper, assistant or laborer, which will allow you to learn the technical skills and gain the experience needed to move up the career ladder. This choice will also offer you the opportunity to explore different craft areas to find the one that best fits your interests, personality and career goals.
With an engineering degree, you can start your career as an entry-level engineer. Entry-level engineers work closely with other engineering disciplines in assisting in performing technical calculations, 3D designs, researching and analyzing data such as design proposals, specifications, system testing procedures, etc.
With an engineering degree and experience within the shipbuilding and repair industry, you can advance your career as a degreed engineer. Degreed engineers work within their engineering discipline in addition to directing and coordinating with production and design engineers in the overall design and construction of marine vessels, systems, etc. They also evaluate designs and products for compliance with regulatory and contractual standards.
With advanced knowledge of CAD and 3D software, in addition to years of experience within the shipbuilding and repair industry, you can advance your career as a design engineer. A design engineer will use artistic talent, research, experience, knowledge of regulatory body requirements in designing and developing innovative and cost effective vessel designs, systems, etc. from conception to completion.
Entry-Level Craft Person
In order to become a craft professional, you must have training and experience in your field. If you did not work in the industry while pursuing a technical degree, chances are you will enter the workforce as an entry-level craft worker. If you are moving up the career ladder through on-the-job training (OJT), the entry-level craft worker is your next step. At this stage of your career, you will work with a craft professional and have the opportunity to put your OJT skills or technical training to work on the job site. It is important for you to get this type of experience before you are the one making decisions on specific craft procedures and materials on site. A craft professional must perform at a high level of expertise working against tight deadlines to maintain production schedules. Experience and additional training when skills gaps are identified are the assurances employers need to move you into the position of craft professional.
Whether you started craft training in high school or after, some shipyards offer apprenticeship programs where you can earn money while you learn a craft. At this point you would be an apprentice. While many people struggle with how to pay for postsecondary education, the shipbuilding and repair industry offers an answer. Some companies have training programs set up within their organizations where instructors hold classes at the shipyard or through local associations. Others pay for you to attend a local trade, technical or community college for training in the evening while you earn money during the day, giving you the opportunity to earn while you learn. Various shipbuilding associations offer scholarships for individuals want to launch a career in the shipbuilding and ship repair industry or to upskill for career advancement.
After learning the skills and/or completing training required to advance, you are now a craft professional. Your hard work is paying off; you are making a solid income. Many professionals enjoy the pride that this level of accomplishment offers; however, you may decide to build on your skills and knowledge and to continue to advance up the career ladder. If you are interested in management, developing your leadership skills through training and experience will allow you to advance to crew leader or foreman.
Crew Leader Foreman
You now have a solid experience as a craft professional and have completed leadership training through your company, local college or a leadership academy. You have learned communication skills and effective planning and scheduling. You are in a supervisory role where you’re in charge of a crew of craft professionals and subcontractors. It is your job to make sure that work is completed correctly and on time. You are responsible for the safety, quality and productivity of your work group. You may choose to stay at this level or choose to pursue opportunities as a craft manager/superintendent by gaining additional experience in your current role and by taking safety, supervisory or management training.
As you mature within your career, the opportunities for management positions may become available that build upon your educational background and shipbuilding and repair experience. These positions can range from project engineers, engineering managers, lead design engineers, etc.
Craft Manager / Superintendent
As a craft manager/superintendent, you oversee ongoing projects and production schedules. You are on site and in charge of multiple work groups and/or departments within the shipbuilding operations, in addition to leading, developing and ensuring the safety of all employees under your supervision. You are a craft professional that has overseen crews, completed supervisory training and has experience in the field. Depending on the company structure, the next step on your career ladder might be to become a member of upper management within an executive officer role in the company.
Regardless of where you start — on-the-job training (OJT); apprenticeship; trade, technical or community college; or a university — this level of success in a shipyard is dependent more upon your skill and dedication than the path you took to get here. There are many great stories within the shipyard industry of how a kid that loved to work with his or her hands and build things ended up a member of upper management or in an executive officer role. If there is one industry that allows multiple paths to success, it is the shipbuilding and ship repair industry. Most careers have a single path to success that specifically spells out what you do and what order in which you do it. Not shipbuilding. You are the master of your fate, no matter where you start. Whether your career goals start with college, OJT or a combination of the two, your level of success is in your hands.