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Marine Engineering Careers

Career Description

Marine Engineers design, develop, and evaluate the operation of marine vessels, ship machinery, and related equipment, such as power supply and propulsion systems.

Common Work Tasks

  • Design and supervise the construction of everything from aircraft carriers to submarines, and from sailboats to tankers
  • Work on the propulsion, steering, and other systems of ships
  • Apply knowledge from a range of fields to the entire design and production process of all water vehicles
  • Prepare, or direct the preparation of, product or system layouts and detailed drawings and schematics
  • Inspect marine equipment and machinery to draw up work requests and job specifications
  • Conduct analytical, environmental, operational, or performance studies to develop designs for products, such as marine engines, equipment, and structures
  • Design and oversee testing, installation, and repair of marine apparatus and equipment
  • Prepare plans, estimates, design and construction schedules, and contract specifications, including any special provisions
  • Investigate and observe tests on machinery and equipment for compliance with standards

Other Job Titles

Marine Engineers are also known by other titles, including:

  • Mechanical Engineers
  • Ship Engineers
  • Naval Architects
  • Electrical Engineers

Education, Training, and Experience

Education and Training
A bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs. College graduates with a degree in a natural science or mathematics occasionally may qualify for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties in high demand.

Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Many programs also include courses in general engineering. A design course, sometimes accompanied by a computer or laboratory class or both, is part of the curriculum of most programs. General courses not directly related to engineering, such as those in the social sciences or humanities, are also often required.

Graduate training is essential for engineering faculty positions and many research and development programs, but is not required for the majority of entry-level engineering jobs. Many experienced engineers obtain graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology and broaden their education. Many high-level executives in government and industry began their careers as engineers.

Certification and Licensure
All 50 States and the District of Columbia require licensure for engineers who offer their services directly to the public. Engineers who are licensed are called professional engineers (PE). This licensure generally requires a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, 4 years of relevant work experience, and successful completion of a State examination. Recent graduates can start the licensing process by taking the examination in two stages. The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination can be taken upon graduation. Engineers who pass this examination commonly are called engineers in training (EIT) or engineer interns (EI). After acquiring suitable work experience, EITs can take the second examination, the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Several States have imposed mandatory continuing education requirements for re-licensure. Most States recognize licensure from other States, provided that the manner in which the initial license was obtained meets or exceeds their own licensure requirements. Many marine, marine, mechanical, and marine engineers are licensed PEs. Independent of licensure, various certification programs are offered by professional organizations to demonstrate competency in specific fields of engineering.

  Engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail oriented. They should be able to work as part of a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing. Communication abilities are becoming increasingly important as engineers frequently interact with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.


The median annual salary for a marine engineer is $76,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $114,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $48,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of marine engineers are:

  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services - $70,970
  • Ship and Boat Building  - $75,840
  • Federal Executive Branch  - $94,740
  • Scientific Research and Development Services - $85,110
  • Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services - $64,280

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  11%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 1,000
  • Employment 2006 : 9,000
  • Employment 2016:  10,000
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