What Does a Marine Engineer Do?

Marine engineers design the vessels that we use to navigate and explore the world's lakes and oceans. Marine engineers' work supports key activities like naval defense, environmental research, international trade, and resource extraction. Read this article to learn what it's like to be a marine engineer. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Marine engineers work closely with naval architects to design and build everything from small yachts and fishing boats to submarines and aircraft carriers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME, www.sname.org) says that naval architects design the basic structure of the boat, ensuring that it will float and remain upright. Some marine engineers also work on-board ships to maintain these systems; these workers are sometimes called ship engineers. Marine engineers are responsible for designing on-board systems such as:

  • Steering or control systems
  • Propulsion systems (gas turbine, diesel engine, or nuclear reactor)
  • Mechanical and electrical systems

Important Facts About Marine Engineers

Key Skills Proficiency in math and science, interpersonal communication, ingenuity, problem-solving
Licensure PE (Professional Engineer) designation is available for career advancement
On-the-job Training None
Work Environment Offices, oil rigs, on and off shore

Education and Licensure Requirements

If you're interested in pursuing a career as a marine engineer, an ocean engineer, or a naval architect, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in engineering, says the BLS. After graduation, you'll need several years of professional experience before taking the licensure exam to become a professional engineer. Professional engineering licensure is required for all marine engineers who provide services to the public. In addition, many marine engineers obtain the U.S. Coast Guard's mariner's license.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, the projected job growth for marine engineers and naval architects was 12% from 2016-2026. The BLS reported the median annual wage for such engineers and architects in May 2018 as $92,560.

Related Jobs

Those thinking about being marine engineers might also consider a career as a naval architect or an ocean engineer. Naval architects are responsible for the basic seaworthiness of boats (stability and hull structure) and ocean engineers build equipment that's used for undersea exploration and resource extraction.

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