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What does a Marine Engineer do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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A marine engineer engages in the research, development, and construction of new marine vessels and their component parts. He or she might create blueprints, design engines and propulsion systems, test prototypes, and supervise the construction of full size ships. A marine engineer might specialize by working on certain types of vessels, such as passenger boats, sailboats, cruise ships, submarines, or military battleships and aircraft carriers.

Industries that manufacture recreational vessels, such as fishing boats, speedboats, and sailboats, hire marine engineers to design new models and make improvements to different types of on-board systems. A marine engineer might experiment with different types of fuels and fuel intake systems, outboard and inboard motors, navigation systems, propulsion devices, steering systems, and other pertinent equipment. He or she often oversees the construction of prototypes and helps to test and tweak finished boats.

Engineers who work on large seafaring ships, such as ocean liners and cruise ships, have specialized knowledge of large-scale power supply systems and propulsion devices. They may use computer-aided drafting programs to design systems and conduct simulated tests of their efficiency. A large craft marine engineer is usually very involved with the construction process, informing electricians and other workers of the exact details of a project.

Many skilled engineers are employed by the Navy or other military branches to create and improve Naval crafts, including submarines and aircraft carriers. Such marine engineers usually receive extensive training in military schools to learn about defense systems and the integration of nuclear power. They frequently work in teams with other engineers and military personnel to create very complex, technologically advanced crafts in state-of-the-art naval facilities.

To become a marine engineer, a person must typically obtain at least a master's degree, though some individuals are able to find employment with bachelor's degrees in engineering. Most states and countries require new engineers to become licensed before practicing their trade independently. Licensing requirements vary between locations, though most states and countries require engineers to gain about four years of supervised work experience and pass a written exam. Additional certification is not typically required, though marine engineers who want to work on large ships often choose to obtain professional qualifications from accredited private programs.

There is generally a steady demand for qualified marine engineers in most specialties. Individuals who design recreational boats and those who join the navy usually find the most job prospects. As marine technology advances, engineers with computer skills and electronics expertise have the best chances of landing steady employment with research and development institutions.

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Discussion Comments
By anon932095 — On Feb 11, 2014

What you are describing more accurately reflects the work of a naval architect.

By cupcake15 — On Aug 12, 2011

I was reading about career options for my son and I thought that a marine engineer would be a good choice until I read that they are normally away for long periods of time and often have to face dangerous conditions at sea.

It is a shame because my son does love math and is obsessed with ships in general. I also think that marine engineers do earn a good salary. In fact, the average salary for a marine engineer is $72,000 and many earn salaries in the six figures.

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