March 22, 2021

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Marine Engineer Job Description – How to Become a Marine Engineer

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Marine Engineer Job Description

Marine engineers design, maintain, and repair the mechanical systems that are used in aircraft carriers, sailboats, submarines, cargo ships, and other marine vessels.

Because there are so many different mechanical systems on ships, many marine engineers choose to specialize in designing certain types of equipment. Engines, pumps, and electrical systems are a few areas where a marine engineer may choose to focus.

In some cases, marine engineers are responsible for overseeing the construction and installation of the equipment they design. For example, they may need to oversee the group of electricians who install an electrical system to make sure that their work meets the design requirements.

Some marine engineers advance into roles as sales engineers, where they’re able to use their knowledge of engineering to sell products. Others become engineering managers, where they lead a team of marine engineers in the design of different products.

Note: Marine engineers are different from naval architects. Naval architects design the ship itself, not the mechanical systems that make it run.

Work Environment and Schedule

Most marine engineers split their time between working in an office environment and visiting work sites.

In the office, marine engineers use advanced computer software to design engineering solutions. At work sites, they supervise the construction of engineering components and address any design issues that arise during the building process.

Some marine engineers have to travel on ships to test or maintain systems that they have designed. In these cases, it may be required to be away from home for long periods of time.

Because most engineering projects have tight deadlines, it’s often necessary for marine engineers to work overtime as deadlines approach. Additionally, problems with machinery or other equipment may require an engineer’s attention at any time of day or night.

How to Become a Marine Engineer

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field is required to get a job as a marine engineer. If you’re still in high school and thinking about a career in this occupation, taking courses in physics, calculus, trigonometry, and chemistry will help prepare you for your college coursework.

Before you enroll in an engineering program, you should make sure that it’s accredited by ABET. If it isn’t accredited, your opportunities for employment will be severely limited.

Marine engineers receive formal training from their employer at the beginning of their career, often while working under the supervision of a senior engineer. As their skills and knowledge increase, they are able to work more independently on more complex projects.

Most marine engineers take the mariner’s license exam offered by the U.S. Coast Guard.

There are multiple levels of licensing available, and each level normally increases the pay and responsibilities that marine engineers receive. The first license you will receive is the 3rd Assistant License. After that, 2nd and 1st Assistant Licenses are available. The highest license you can receive is the Chief Assistant License.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 5,900 marine engineers in the United States, with 230 new marine engineer job openings created each year.

Marine Engineer jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Marine Engineer Salaries

Overall Salaries

Marine Engineer salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most marine engineers make between $64,500 – $110,400 per year, or $30.99 – $53.06 per hour.

Career as a Marine Engineer or Naval Architect– Description, Income, & Qualification


Marine engineers work on boats, ships, as well as other vessels. They also operate on oil-rigs and other kinds of structures that operate in sea. Their job is to plan, design, and build electronic equipment including ship propulsion, navigation, and other on-board systems. Some jobs require inspecting of already installed systems. Companies often hire them as part of their sailboat crew. In such jobs, marine engineers inspect onboard electronic equipment regularly to make sure that the ship continues to operate in optimal conditions.

Naval architects first analyze building plans for boats, submarines, ships, and other marine vessels. They use their knowledge to confirm that all calculations are accurate. Before finalizing a plan, they consider several factors; for instance, shape and size of the vessel, the proposed engine strength, the speed manufacturer wants to achieve, etc.

Once the initial plans are approved, they start making designs and drawings which construction crew later use to start the building process.

Work Conditions and Timings

Marine engineers may work in offices, on ships, or both; it depends on the job you are doing. For some jobs, you just need to stay at office and use computer software to accomplish the given task. Some marine engineers not only work on ships, they also stay in it as a permanent crewmember. They travel with the ship and oversee the operation of electronic equipment. If needed, they also do repairing work.

Naval architects usually work from inside their offices, but they also visit the shipyard, or other work-sites, to monitor construction work and to offer assistance in solving design issues.

Both are full-time jobs.


To become a marine engineer or a naval architect, you need a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering, naval architecture, or any other related field.

Check following links for more information, these are ABET accredited programs:

Job Prospects

There are currently around 8,500 marine engineer and naval architect jobs in USA. BLS projects this number to increase by 9 percent between 2014 and 2024. The demand for transport ships is steadily increasing which is stimulating job growth in these occupations.


Both marine engineering and naval architecture jobs pay well. These are few of the top paying jobs in USA. Their salary is between $61,000 and $150,000. The median annual wage is approximately $93,200.

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