How to Become a
Marine Engineer

Man with headphones looking at gauges in a room filled with pipes

There are a lot of considerations when picking a career. If you are thinking about becoming a Marine Engineer, this article will provide you with information about career prospects and earning potential, as well as what is needed to find a job in this field.

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, as well as their equipment. Their job is to make sure the vessel works and functions properly, and to troubleshoot any potential problems that may arise with engines, pumps, propulsion systems, etc. 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 Engineers are shore based, which requires them to travel to different sites. Others, especially those that specialize in design, work regular hours in office settings.

Being a Marine Engineer requires technical knowledge of naval construction, as well as in electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering systems. Other responsibilities of Marine Engineers include:

  • Maintenance and inspection of marine vessels and equipment

  • Designing and building vessels and parts

  • Supervising over the construction process

  • Selecting appropriate materials

  • Teaching clients how to operate vessels

Marine Engineer Skills

Other than technical skills, it takes a special kind of person to succeed in this role. Many Marine Engineers have to travel for work, and must 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. Other key Marine Engineer skills include:

  • Problem solving skills

  • IT skills

  • Math skills

  • Multitasking skills

  • Communication skills

How Do You Become a Marine Engineer

Education and Training

As Marine Engineers are responsible for the safety and efficiency of marine vessels, they must complete specific educational requirements to enter this field. To start, a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering; mechanical, electronic or electrical engineering; naval architecture; physics, or math is required. It is highly recommended to complete a master’s and doctoral programs to advance in this industry. As Marine Engineers often have to oversee other employees, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can pave the way to management and senior positions.

Employers showed a preference for candidates with some relevant work experience, so internships or cooperative education programs may be beneficial in securing a job.

Finding a job

There is expected to be a growing need for Marine Engineers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts jobs to grow by 9 percent through 2024, with 290 new jobs becoming available. This growth is fueled by interest in the design and creation of environmentally friendly ships and parts.

A Marine Engineer resume needs to highlight educational experience, as well as technical expertise. Get resume-writing tips in JobHero’s resume library.

After you’ve perfected your resume, visit JobHero’s job listings to find a suitable position.

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.

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

    $127,800

    Maryland

    $115,200

    Texas

    $107,100

    California

    $97,400

    New York

    $94,200

    Florida

    $92,900

    Virginia

    $89,000

    New Jersey

    $87,000

    Washington

    $86,500

    Massachusetts

    $81,300

    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.

    Books

    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.