Shipbuilding is the art of designing and constructing ships and other floating vessels. The U.S. shipbuilding industry is comprised of organizations that are primarily engaged in operating shipyards— fixed facilities with drydocks involving activities that include ship construction, repair, conversion and alteration. Shipbuilding manufacturing is a labor intensive industry that produce tugs and towboats, passenger vessels, commercial fishing vessels, inland tank barges, and related parts.

Quick Facts

US Industry Revenues (2013): 22 Billion 
US Industry Revenues (2015 Estimate): 25 Billion 
US Industry Employment (2014): 111,905 


Common Careers 


Working Conditions

The working conditions in the shipbuilding industry have improved drastically in recent years due to new policies regulating the control of hazardous energy. Many shipbuilding jobs now boasts state-of-the-art facilities that maintain good housekeeping (no clutter, slippery walking surfaces, etc.) and safety measures.

There are no fixed times for working in the shipbuilding industry. Although work schedules typically vary from 8-12 hours, overtime and flexible hours are commonly required to meet production schedules and departmental needs. The annual mean wage for shipbuilding employees is $50,860.

Shipbuilding manufacturing jobs often entail exposure to all weather conditions, high noise levels, dust, and smoke. Physical requirements include the ability to frequently stoop, kneel, and stand for long periods of time and lift a minimum of 50 lbs.



Important locations of the shipbuilding industry within the U.S. include the following:

  • Virginia
  • California
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Texas
  • Alabama
  • Washington


Industry Outlook

In 2013, the U.S. shipbuilding industry contributed $22 billion in revenue to the U.S. economy.  Industry revenue is anticipated to rise to $25 billion in 2015 after receiving a boost from renewed funding for military ships and continued demand for energy industry related vessels within the next five years. Additionally, the industry has run a trade surplus of $410 million combined over the last ten years.

Most of the industry's revenue is generated from the construction and support of military vessels. These vessels are highly specialized, sophisticated and expensive, which allows them to account for most of the industry's revenue. With a projected annual growth of 0.6%, the U.S. shipbuilding industry will continue to grow as a result of the strong demand from the U.S. Navy and long project lead times.