If you love hard work, multi-tasking and the excitement of being at the center of the open water action, then you may want to consider becoming a marine engineer on a shipping vessel. Marine engineers work on cargo ships, aircraft carriers, tankers, submarines, sailboats and other ocean-going vessels.
The marine engineer is the on-board technical expert responsible for ensuring that the vessel can actually move! It is a hot-seat job because the ship’s ability to function as an ocean-going vessel rests with you. On the other hand, there is never a dull moment, you will not be bored, the salary is very good, and you will gain incredible hands-on experience that cannot be matched elsewhere.
As the vessel’s marine engineer, you will be responsible for the operation, installation and maintenance of all the equipment and machinery on the ship – including propulsion systems, electrical generation and distribution, air conditioning and refrigeration. You may also oversee the design, construction, and installation of the equipment you will later be monitoring and repairing once at sea. You will be the first to board a ship and the last one to depart it.
A Marine Engineer’s Day
Typically marine engineers work two to three 4-hour shifts a day, walking through the engine room and other mechanical spaces of the vessel to check all its systems. Usually you can count on sleeping at night, but you will always be “on-call,” ready to respond to any emergency.
You will be diagnosing engine and machinery problems and keeping the vessel in compliance with international environmental regulations. You must be comfortable working with extremely technical, perhaps even nuclear systems. You will also be supervising the engine room crew, so part of your day will be spent on staff management and training.
What do you need to be a marine engineer?
• Bachelor’s degree in Engineering
• Certificate in Marine Engineering
• Certificate in Pneumatic and Hydraulic Machinery
• Training in repairing electronic systems and equipment
• Training in safety regulations and procedures, including first aid, fire fighting and survival skills
• Thorough knowledge of port regulations, both at home and abroad