How to Become a Marine Engineer

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Marine engineering is an important part of developing marine vehicles. It is involved with the design, building, installation, function, and support of boats, ships, and other marine equipment. Marine engineers are specialized engineers that perform these essential tasks.


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What does a marine engineer do?

Marine engineers design and oversee the building, operation, maintenance, and repair of all water vehicles such as sailboats, submarines, tankers, and aircraft carriers. They work on all the systems of ships including steering and propulsion. They make sure none of the systems will be damaged during ocean trips. Some marine engineers specialize in a specific type of equipment such as engines, pumps, heaters, gears, or desk machinery. Others focus on specific shipbuilding steps or one certain area of a ship’s functions.

Some marine engineers are inspectors and ensure ship equipment works correctly before the ship departs. Others specialize in the maintenance and repair of ships when they are docked at shore or in dry dock. Sometimes marine engineers install ship equipment and oversee installing crews. They often work with ship officers and help them choose the proper tools and spare parts needed for emergencies.

What kind of training does a marine engineer need?

Marine engineers typically need at least a bachelor degree in marine engineering, mechanical engineering, or ocean engineering. Many programs offer hands-on laboratory courses that concentrate on current engineering issues and principles. Marine engineers who wish to work as merchant marine engineering officers must be licensed. Candidates must have graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy or one of six state academies. They must have some experience at sea and pass physical and written examinations. Marine engineers must also learn and develop new knowledge about marine engineering and keep current on technological advances.

What are the prospects for a career as a marine engineer?

Employment of marine engineers is projected to grow as fast as average for all professions, increasing 11% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Growth will be driven by the increasing demand for recreational boats and ships and naval vessels.

Job prospects are expected to be good, especially for marine engineers with extensive experience. Job opportunities will also arise from the need to replace marine engineers who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do marine engineers make?

As of August 2009, marine engineers with lest than 1 year experience earned annual salaries between $53,000 and $78,200. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earned annual salaries between $55,851 and $69,866 (2).

A career as a marine engineer is a great choice for people who have a strong interest in water transportation, ships, and boats. Marine engineers must have great problem solving, analytical, creative, organization, and leadership skills. They must have strong communication and interpersonal skills and be able to work effectively as part of a team. They must also be able to be away from home on a regular basis.

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