I do not know what age you are but assuming you are still at school as most of us are locked into what we do thereafter, might I advise looking to do a degree in naval architecture at a university which specialises in such courses. These are usually in the former shipbuilding centres and Strathclyde Uni in Glasgow is one such. Try writing or e-mailing the school of naval architecture there (via website).
Also, write to the boatbuilders and put the same question to them. They might help. You will get the addresses from their websites or possibly more quickly, from a boat magazine such as MBY.
I can't help with average salaries as I am not in that industry but like any profession, if you are good at it and rise to the top, earnings are pretty well limitless.
p.s. If you do get to be achieve your ambition, can you do something about the modern trend towards bulbous, horrible teardrop shaped windows and get back to real boat shapes.
According to MBY (the design feature, 2 months ago) "the" place to go is errr Lanchester/Coventry. That's for the styling side of boat design, rather than the naval architecture side.
But I would hesitate to recommend them. You would imho be much better getting into the best university you can (you know the pecking order). If you deliberately go to Lanchester for the design course, when you could have gone to a "better" place, and then you turn to a different career you'll regret not going to the better place.
There are two basic ways of becoming a professional yacht designer. You can either get a job in a boat yard and work your way into the profession from a practical start, or you can do a degree in naval architecture. Southampton Institute (www.solent.ac.uk) run an engineering degree in Yacht and Powercraft Design, approved by The Royal Institution Of Naval Architects (www.rina.org.uk). Be warned though, it's not about drawing pretty pictures of boats. If you do the degree expect to do maths, more maths and some more maths (in fact, you need a good pass in A-Level maths to get on the course to start with) as you learn about structural design (steel, aluminium, FRP, timber and other materials), hydrodynamics (sails, keels, mathematical theories and numerical methods) and loads of other subjects (metallurgy, control systems, engineering maths, project management, production methods and practical boatbuilding to give a few examples) you'll need, as well as drawing the occasional boat! Job prospects around the world are good if you are professionally qualified (ie registered with the Engineering Council as a Chartered Engineer, having completed a degree and suitable experience), but the pay isn't exceptional - engineering doesn't pay well but it can be very rewarding in other ways. The most important thing is not to get in the frame of mind that all you will do is draw your dream boat every day- the job is very different, and you need a high level of competancy in a wide range of disciplines to be an effective designer, especially with the current trend of lawyers and litigation! Yachts and small craft are only a very small part of the industry, in your first few years you will need to go where the jobs are, this could be anything from fishing boats to submarines, all of which are very different in terms of required skills, knowledge and ability. Contact RINA, website above, for advice on routes into the industry.
How I agree with you. There are a few regular posters on here who do not always spell correctly but whose postings I enjoy immensely and are often humorous. Lets stick to the questions in the posting instead of the schoolteacher approach then people will not be frightened to ask the questions or even answer them.
Agree let's not wory about speling. Most misspells are not thru ignorance, just thru fast typing and slipp of the keyboard. That's espeshully clear when the incorrect letter is next to the correct one on a QWERTY. Jason got an e and an r mixed up, that was a 10mm slip of keyboard no more.
Now back to the degree. Jason, a good point is made by JR. In this country unfortunately engineering rarely pays. Sad but true. There are exceptions (Dyson, Potter, et al) but they're rare. There was an initiative in 1995 to fix this (anyone remember Monty Finniston?) but it didn't work. I speak as someone who has a degree in Mech Eng from Imperial, but who chose a different career path. I dont want to put you off, job satisfaction is 100x more important than money but the 2 aren't mutually exclusive. If you're interested in nice boats and would like to OWN one instead of designing them for other people to play in then, you might think about a different career!! No-one working at Fairline can afford one. In other words, dont mix business with pleasure.
Some of us do turn our hobbies into careers...
(i was a sad geek who became an IT consultant)
- many antique dealers are really collectors who are willing to put up with temporay ownership of their collections.