Marine Engineer Job Description

Whether it’s a military vessel or a private cargo ship, a Marine Engineer has had a hand in designing, building, inspecting or maintaining the vessel and its components. Marine Engineers may work exclusively in one area, such as the propulsion system or engines, or may be more generalized and oversee all aspects of the vessel. They may also focus on one aspect, such as design, or may oversee the entire creation of the vessel from start to finish.

Marine Engineers often work as part of an engineering team and may report to a Senior Engineer, but a lot of their work is completed independently. Marine Engineers should be comfortable working with minimal supervision as well as working well in a team environment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Marine Engineers and Naval Architects jobs are expected to increase 9 percent through 2024. This will add an estimated 700 jobs to this sector during this period.


Marine Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

The duties of a Marine Engineer will differ depending on their area of expertise and the particular job they are hired for; however, there are a couple core duties most Marine Engineers perform. A review of current job listings identified the following primary tasks and responsibilities.

Plan and Implement Projects

Marine Engineers are involved in the design, specifications, budgeting and execution of various projects. This may require research, creating computer models, meeting with contractors, verifying specifications, creating documentation or presenting ideas and advice to management. The amount of responsibilities will depend on the scope of the project, but a Marine Engineer will be busy when actively working on a new project’s creation.

Conduct Inspections and Evaluations

Inspections and evaluations of a ship’s components are part of the job of the Marine Engineer. Some will have daily inspections assigned to them, and others will have less frequent reviews. It may be as simple as visually inspecting a vessel’s systems or may involve using diagnostic tools and machinery to test functionality. All irregularities and issues are then reported to the Senior Engineer and the Marine Engineer may or may not be involved in correcting such issues.


Marine Engineer Skills

Successful Marine Engineer enjoy working with their hands and has technical aptitude. They have excellent communication skills and stay up-to-date on the latest technologies in their field. They are team players who also thrive working independently. In addition to these traits, employers look for applicants with the following skills.

Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Marine Engineer with these core skills. Focus on the following, if you wish to become a Marine Engineer.

  • Read and analyze technical and complex documents and plans
  • Being familiar with shipboard operations
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office programs and computer-based design programs
  • Shipyard experience
  • Strong mathematical skills
  • Ability to work in industrial setting which includes walking, climbing, bending, and wearing appropriate safety gear

Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your skillset and broaden your career options.

  • Knowledge of Integrate Product Team (IPT) operations
  • Degree in engineering or related field


Marine Engineer Resources

There are more helpful and informational resources available on the Web for those interested in working in the maritime field. We scoured the internet and found these links full of learning opportunities and the latest industry news.

On the Web

Maritime Reporter and Engineering News – This respected magazine is the largest circulated publication for the global maritime community.

Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology Peer-Reviewed Journal – IMarEST provides their wonderful peer-reviewed journals to their members as well as limited access free for guests.


@edumaritime – Follow this feed maintained by, a company geared towards helping new maritime employees with resources and news, as they tweet about the latest events in the industry.

@Tridentis – This feed is maintained by the successful engineering firm, Tridentis. Follow their tweets to learn about industry news and information about America’s military.

@GetMarEnginJobs – This Marine Engineering recruitment company tweets about job listings and industry news.

Marine Engineer Books

Modern Marine Engineer’s Manual – A standard for engineering students and other maritime professionals, this informational book covers all aspect of the Marine Engineer’s duties and tasks.

Introduction to Marine Engineering – This book covers all aspects of a ship’s machinery. With great illustrations and diagrams, it is a wonderful resource for those studying to be a Marine Engineer as well as for those already working in the field.

Industry Groups

Marine Engineers Beneficial Association – MEBA is one of the country’s oldest unions, founded in 1875 to protect steamboat engineers. Over 128 years later, MEBA still fights to ensure its members have safe and fair work environments.

Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology – Founded in 1889, IMarEST is the UK’s union for Marine Engineers and workers. Over the years it has expanded and now has a presence in other continents and works to globally promote development in the field as well as foster training and education opportunities.


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