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.