Marine engineers are involved with the design, construction, installation, operation, maintenance and repair of the main propulsion engines and auxiliary machinery and systems found in all kinds of ships, boats and offshore installations. Depending on the job, they may also be responsible for everyone working in the engine room. Professional engineers are often supported in their work by engineering technicians. 

What does a marine engineer do?

Those operating at Incorporated and Chartered Marine Engineer level ensure that engines and systems work efficiently and develop and deal with new and emerging technology. These professional engineers need management expertise in order to employ staff and operate plant efficiently and within the law for safety and environmental protection. Engineering Technicians, deal with day-to-day engineering work, typically leading specialist teams. 

What skills and personal qualities do you need?

  • An interest in science, technology and nautical matters

  • Practical and technical skills 

  • Problem-solving ability 

  • A high level of numeracy 

  • Teamworking and leadership skills 

  • For some jobs, to be prepared to work away from home for long periods

What about entry, training and qualifications?

To become an Incorporated or Chartered Marine Engineer, you normally start by taking a degree accredited by the IMarEST in a relevant subject, such as marine engineering, marine technology or ship science, however other entry routes are available. To gain ‘Incorporated Engineer’ or ‘Chartered Engineer’ status, after graduating, you need to follow a period of on-the-job learning before an assessment of your technical and managerial competence at a professional review. It is also possible to study marine engineering at postgraduate level although you will need an engineering or science-based qualification first. 

Who employs marine engineers?

  • Shipyards, boatyards and marinas

  • Marine engineering firms

  •  Merchant navies

  • National defence navies

  • Offshore oil and gas industries and mineral extracting companies

  • Classification societies

  • Marine consultancies

What about future prospects?

It is possible for officers in the Merchant Navy and Royal Navy to progress through the ranks, eventually to chief engineer/marine engineer officer. There are routes for technicians to qualify as officers. Once you are fully trained, there are career opportunities all over the world, whilst skills can be adapted to other types of engineering.