Maritime engineers are involved in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of machinery and equipment used at sea, subsea and on offshore platforms. They may work on container ships, cruise liners, oil, gas or chemical carriers, submarine, oil or gas platforms or in an onshore technical department. They work across a range of engineering disciplines, including electrical, construction and mechanical.
Maritime engineers are concerned with the efficient running of marine engines and equipment for navigation, heating and ventilation and other machinery and systems. They ensure safety precautions for crew, passengers and cargo are effective. They work closely with naval officers, architects, and other professionals.
Typical job responsibilities include:
- Designing, constructing and maintaining ships' seafaring equipment.
- Developing and preserving offshore systems
- Be responsible for safety standards and ensuring that regulations are observed
- Maintaining the efficient running of marine engines and equipment for navigation, heating and ventilation and other systems
- Liaising closely with other professionals such as naval officers and architects
- Working onshore in shipbuilding companies or offshore on board ships and submarines
- Conducting marine surveys for oil companies or the leisure industry
- Producing reports on findings and presenting these to management
- Supervising other staff
Most maritime engineers work around 35-40 hours a week. Maritime engineers work in shipbuilding companies, on board ships and submarines, in marine surveying and in oil companies. Onshore they work in offices, laboratories, workshops or construction yards. At sea, they work on ships or oil rigs.
These jobs require you to spend nights away from home, sometimes for long periods. You will be required to climb ladders sometimes in rough seas.
The work environment can be noisy and uncomfortable and you will have to put up with unpleasant weather conditions at times. You will be required to wear protective clothing and there can be a risk of accidents at sea. Most jobs require you to advise, supervise and consult with other people.
Future career development opportunities for maritime engineers are good. It is possible to work for companies (e.g. small shipping businesses), leisure cruise liners or to join the Royal Navy. With experience it is possible to specialise in project management or marine research, or even to work as a consultant.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills for Maritime Engineers
- Ability to drive/operate machinery and equipment
- Ability to solve problems under pressure
- Sound technical skills
- Excellent numerical and IT skills
- Well organised and resourceful
- Accurate and precise
- Logical and careful approach to your work
- Able to work both on your own and in a closely knit team
- Sound judgement
- Enquiring mind
- Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of Maritime Engineers
Examples of major employers of maritime engineers include:
- The Merchant Navy or The Royal Navy
- Engineering companies
- Offshore companies
- The defence industry
- There may be opportunities abroad.
Qualifications and training required
To become a maritime engineer you will usually require a degree in a subject such as maritime engineering, naval architecture, marine technology or offshore engineering. Entry into a degree course requires a minimum of 5 GCSEs grades 9 – 4 (A*- C) and a minimum of 2 A levels including maths and physics.
In Scotland Higher National Certificate courses are available. These require around 3 National 5s including Maths and Physics/technological subject. Degree courses require a minimum of 4 Highers including Maths and Physics/engineering science.
It may be possible to secure a degree apprenticeship in maritime engineering provided by an appropriate company where you will receive on the job training. It is possible to enter the industry at a lower level by taking an apprenticeship as a marine engineering technician and then working your way up to marine engineer by undertaking additional training and qualifications on the job.
The Merchant Navy Training Board offer a number of training and sponsorship schemes for entrants. These are at GCSE, A level and graduate stages. It is necessary to undergo a medical before you are accepted. You should seek sponsorship from a shipping company or a training provider before you are accepted.
Trainees spend alternate periods at college and at sea, whilst working towards industry recognised qualifications and professional maritime certificates.
The Royal Navy accepts applications for engineering officers from candidates in the final year of university.