Ocean Engineering and Technology

Ocean engineering professionals study the ocean environment and create new technologies for ships. Keep reading to learn about job options in this field in addition to employment outlook and salaries for related careers.

Is Ocean Engineering and Technology for Me?

Career Overview

Studies in ocean engineering focus on designing new technologies and modifying existing equipment used in the ocean. These technologies can include ships, submarines, underwater robots, sub-surface vehicles and platforms that operate offshore. Sometimes referred to as marine engineers, ocean engineers might work on objects as large as oil drilling rigs or as small as sailboats. You can find job opportunities working for the government, private companies and defense contractors if you study ocean engineering.

Work Environment

As an ocean engineer, you can expect to work 40 hours each week, although you may work extra hours if there is a deadline approaching. You might spend your time designing underwater sensors, corrosion-proof materials or oil recovery devices. While some of these projects can be completed in an office setting, you might spend some time at construction sites, which can require a significant amount of travel time.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that marine engineers and naval architects were expected to experience a 10% increase in job opportunities from 2012-2022, which is as fast as the average of all occupations (www.bls.gov). The demand for naval vessels, along with fewer engineers than job openings, should provide some decent job prospects for engineering graduates. Marine engineers earned a median yearly salary of $89,550 in May 2013.

How Can I Work in Ocean Engineering and Technology?

Education Requirements

Employers require you to have a bachelor's degree to qualify for most ocean engineering positions. Some research positions may require a master's degree. When you are checking out engineering programs, it can be useful to see if a program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Most states require you to have a degree from an ABET-approved school in order to become licensed as an engineer.

Undergraduate Programs

A bachelor's degree program in ocean engineering can prepare you to build submarines, advanced ships and offshore structures. After you complete the necessary math and science courses, you can take courses in naval architecture, ocean wave mechanics and ship dynamics. Some programs allow you to work on an ocean engineering project with a team of other students.

Graduate Studies

To prepare for a career in this field, you can also pursue a master's program in naval engineering or ocean engineering. Course options for these programs include ship structure analysis, fluid mechanics, acoustics, dynamics of offshore facilities and marine structure mechanics. If you are interested in an ocean engineering doctoral program, some schools may allow you to choose an emphasis in coastal or offshore engineering. In coastal engineering programs, you might be able to take courses in harbors or marine dredging. You can study structural reliability or hydrodynamics in ocean engineering if you focus on offshore engineering.

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