What Is Marine Engineering?

Marine engineers design watercraft of all kinds, from ships to submarines. As experts in the challenges of transportation, marine engineers are the problem solvers we rely on. Read on to learn more about marine engineering. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Field Overview

Like most other specialized branches of engineering, the field of marine engineering has a solid foundation in mechanical engineering. Skill in advanced math and science is vital. To become a marine engineer, you must first study physics, fluid and material mechanics, thermodynamics, and engineering graphic programs.

Important Facts About Marine Engineering

Median Salary (2018) $92,560 ('for all marine engineers and naval architects')
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 12% growth
Key Skills Strong mathematical foundation, critical thinking, problem solving, excellent written and spoken communication, inventiveness
Similar Occupations Aerospace engineers; drafters; electrical and electronics engineers; mechanical engineers; petroleum engineers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Marine Specialization

After initial training in basic engineering theory, you'll learn how to apply these skills when dealing with problems like how to design propulsion systems that will maneuver through high seas. Hull construction is another area with its own set of issues. Hulls are designed based on the amount of weight the ship needs to bear and the depth of water it travels through. As a marine engineer, you'll decide what types of materials to use in ship construction based on factors such as durability in different aquatic environments.


Pressure stability is a marine engineering forte. To be a marine engineer, you have to understand how to design hulls in submarine and underwater exploration vehicles that will withstand increasing pressure at each new depth level. The underwater vehicles must maintain interior pressure to keep the crew safe. Your challenge may be to find sturdy materials that also provide visibility for crewmembers in underwater exploration vehicles.


Light watercraft is another area of marine engineering expertise you can master. While a shipwright or naval architect may design the basic layout of the boat or yacht, your engineering skills are required for propulsion, navigation, and steering systems. Even sailing vessels are equipped with many of these features so you won't be stranded if the wind fails.


Being a marine engineer doesn't mean you have to work on boats. You can also design systems for oceanic research bases and offshore drilling platforms. You can work in marine mechanics and design and fix marine engines. Engines that might work well on land must be able to function as well in stormy seas, and as a marine engineer, you will be the one who is best equipped to make this happen.

Education and Licensing

Most marine engineers hold a bachelor's degree in marine engineering, marine systems engineering or a closely related field, like mechanical engineering. As a prospective student, seek out a program accredited by ABET. After completion of a 4-year bachelor's program, many marine engineers pursue the U.S. Coast Guard mariner's license.

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