Marine Engineer working on machine with headphones

How to Become a
Marine Engineer

Gabriela Bercenas
By Gabriela Bercenas - Content Strategist
Last Updated: April 20, 2023
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If you’re fascinated by underwater exploration and construction, this “how to become a marine engineer” article covers career prospects, earning potential and education requirements for a successful career. You’ll also find detailed resume samples for marine engineers at various experience levels.

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What Does a Marine Engineer Do?

A marine engineer is responsible for designing, building and maintaining water vessels, such as boats, ships, ferries, cargo ships, cruise ships and military vessels, and their equipment. Some marine engineers are shore based, which requires them to travel to different sites. Others, especially those specializing in design, work regular hours in office settings.

Being a marine engineer requires technical knowledge of naval construction and electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering systems. It is common for marine engineers to specialize in one area, such as designing engines, rather than work on all parts of a vessel.

Some marine engineer responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring vessel works and functions properly before, during and after deployment.

  • Troubleshooting any potential problems with engines, pumps or propulsion systems.

  • Maintaining and inspecting marine vessels and equipment.

  • Designing and building vessels and parts.

  • Supervising the construction process.

  • Selecting appropriate materials for construction or maintenance.

  • Teaching clients how to operate vessels.

  • Prepare system layouts and create detailed drawings or schematics.

How Do You Become a Marine Engineer?

There is expected to be a growing need for marine engineers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts jobs to grow by 4% through 2031. This statistic translates to an estimated 400 job openings annually, making this a highly competitive job market.

This growth is fueled by interest in designing and creating environmentally friendly ships and parts. To successfully enter this industry, we recommend how to become a marine engineer.


Develop your math and science skills in high school.

Since most marine engineering includes advanced math, science, and coding skills, consider signing up for advanced placement (AP) courses or clubs to help you develop these skills. Here’s a non-comprehensive list that can help you become a marine engineer.

  • AP Calculus
  • AP Statistics
  • AP Physics
  • Trigonometry
  • Geometry
  • Computer coding clubs
  • Academic clubs like the academic decathlon

Pursue an accredited bachelor’s degree.

To start, a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering; mechanical, electronic or electrical engineering; naval architecture; physics, or math is required. Most employers prefer candidates who graduate from accredited programs. You can find a list of accredited degrees from professional associations like ABET or a list of state-sanctioned maritime academies from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration.


Gain experience during your undergraduate program.

Employers prefer candidates with relevant work experience, so internships or cooperative education programs may be beneficial in securing a job. Consider signing up for work-study opportunities within your school’s math or physics departments to gain this practical experience or volunteer with local science or maritime museums and research centers.


Consider a master’s degree program.

Although most employers do not require it, we recommend you complete a master’s and doctoral programs to advance in this industry. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) can pave the way to management and senior marine engineering positions.

Your resume needs to highlight your educational experience as well as technical expertise. You can study these marine engineer resume samples, expertly written by our certified resume writers, to learn how to showcase your engineering experience best.

Write a compelling cover letter to explain to an employer why you are interested in becoming a marine engineer and what you can offer in this role.

Marine Engineer Skills

It takes a highly trained and knowledgeable person to succeed in marine engineering. Many Marine Engineers must travel for work and work long hours and weekends. Additionally, customer service skills are essential to this role, as listening to and following the client’s directions are necessary to complete the job.

Key marine engineer technical and soft skills include:

Technical skills:

1Financial planning and budgeting.
2Math skills, particularly calculus, trigonometry and algebra.
3Professional engineering license.
4Science knowledge such as chemistry and physics.

Soft skills:

1Critical thinking to anticipate potential problems and course correct during project design, construction and deployment.
2Customer service skills to accurately listen and follow a client’s directions are necessary to complete the job.
3Problem-solving skills to accurately troubleshoot potential integrated issues with implemented software and hardware.

Insights from a Marine Engineer

We gathered thoughts and experiences from Marine Engineers and put them together here so you can get a more personalized view of this career.

What is the common career path for a Marine Engineer?

There is no real path to becoming a marine engineer. All you have to do is take the usual route of acquiring an engineering degree at an accredited institution. You may want to gain some professional experience in an internship before or after graduating before taking the licensure exam to become a professional engineer. Additionally many marine engineers acquire a U.S. Coast Guard mariner's license.

What should someone consider before becoming a Marine Engineer?

Being in the engine room of a ship up seas, you won't be able to go back home in a while. The ship can be a hazardous place. In this profession, you need to be extra careful. If you're claustrophobic, this might not be the right job for you.

What type of person excels in this job?

Curiosity is one of the most correlated characteristics of people who excel in this industry. As en engineer, it's innately a good trait to be genuinely interested in learning. Other qualities are organization, critical thinking, and good problem-solving abilities.

What are some of the most important skills for Marine Engineers to have?

Mechanical skills, good judgment and attention to detail. It would also be a perk to have good communication skills to deliver precise instructions or at least be well organized in terms of planning.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Marine Engineer?

If you're a machine enthusiast, the sound of the engines roaring can be exhilarating. And knowing that you're in charge of their maintenance gives you a sense of importance and pride.

How Much Do Marine Engineers Get Paid?

Marine Engineers earn an average salary of $93,100 yearly. The highest-paid professionals make $149,300, while the lowest-paid make $61,100.

Top 10 States for a Marine Engineer’s Salary

Marine Engineers in the following states make the highest median salary in the US.

    District of Columbia








    New York






    New Jersey






    Marine Engineer Resources

    For more information about becoming or working as a Marine Engineer, follow these sources.

    On the Web

    Maritime Insight
    Information and education about marine engineering and technical knowledge.

    Steam Esteem
    Information about the development of marine steam boilers.

    On LinkedIn

    Marine Engineer Group
    This group of Marine Engineers is to network with other professionals at all levels to share relevant market information and ideas.

    Marine & Subsea Network Engineering Group
    Group dedicated to marine (cable) engineering and related maritime technologies.


    Introduction to Marine Engineering

    Deals comprehensively with all aspects of a ship's machinery from propulsion and steering to deck machinery and electrical equipment with a strong emphasis upon correct and safe procedures.

    Marine, Steam Engines, and Turbines

    Deals with the principles behind how turbines and engines function, how they progressed over the years, and how they operate.