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Marine Engineer: Employment Info & Career Requirements

Marine engineers design, construct, maintain and support commercial, naval and recreational vessels and the equipment that propels and controls them. Additionally, they also work with various offshore structures and other floating systems. Keep reading to learn more details of this profession.

Career Definition for a Marine Engineer

Freight carrying ships transport roughly 75% of the goods that are imported to or exported from America, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Marine engineers are responsible for the design and maintenance of these ships, which are the largest moving vessels on earth. Marine engineers apply their knowledge of mechanical engineering and hydrodynamics to ensure the steering, propulsion, aerodynamic efficiency and seaworthiness of them. In addition, marine engineers work on watercraft of all sizes and uses, including passenger, exploratory and fishing vessels, and small crafts. Marine engineers may work for shipbuilders, offshore companies, software developers or the government, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Education Bachelor's degree required
Job Skills Strong math and physics skills, independent thinking, teamwork, patience
Median Salary (2017)* $90,970 for marine engineers
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 12% for marine engineers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A bachelor's degree in marine engineering is the minimum requirement to work in this complex field, which encompasses mechanical engineering, hydrodynamics and sometimes nuclear engineering. Students begin with a foundation of calculus, chemistry and physics then proceed to specialized coursework in mechanical engineering and hydrodynamics, the study of fluids in motion. Prospective marine engineers take courses in hydrostatics, propulsion, offshore structures and hydrofoils. Those wishing to work with nuclear-powered crafts also take coursework in nuclear engineering.

Only ten universities in the U.S. offer degrees in marine engineering, according to U.S. News and World Report. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, also offers a degree for those wishing to pursue a military career.

Skills Required

Aspiring marine engineers, like all engineers, should have a strong aptitude for math and physics, and the ability to think both independently and work collaboratively. They should also have the patience for work that undergoes rounds of changes and takes years to complete.

Career and Economic Outlook

The need for marine engineers and naval architects was expected to grow by 12% from 2016-2026, due to demand for vessels that create less pollution, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salary for marine engineers and naval architects as of May 2017 was $90,970.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some other choices for engineering careers:

Petroleum Engineer

With a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering, or sometimes in chemical or mechanical engineering, these professionals then seek employment developing and designing ways to extract gas and oil from below the surface of the earth. Employment prospects should be good during the 2016-2026 decade, with 15% growth predicted by the BLS. As of May 2017, these engineers earned an annual median salary of $132,280, per the BLS.

Sales Engineer

Average job growth of 7% from 2016-2026 was projected for sales engineers who sell technological and scientific services and products to businesses, according to BLS information. They earned a median wage of $98,720 per year in 2017, per the BLS, and normally had a bachelor's degree in engineering or a similar field.


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