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How do I become a marine engineer?

Marine Engineer

What better way to combine a love of the sea with a passion for engineering? Find out what it takes to be a marine engineer.

What is a marine engineer?

Being a marine engineer involves designing, building, servicing and repairing boats, ships, underwater crafts and offshore platforms and equipment.  You can work for private companies, the Ministry of Defence, the Merchant Navy or the Royal Navy.

Which qualifications do I need to be marine engineer?

There are several ways to become a marine engineer but generally, you’ll need a degree, a foundation degree, an HNC or an HND in marine engineering.  These qualifications are offered by several colleges and universities around the UK, including: Falmouth, Plymouth, Newcastle, Southampton Solent, and South Tyneside College.

Progression onto these higher education qualifications is possible by having suitable A-levels, having attended a full time college course, such as the Level 3 Diploma in Shipping and Maritime Occupations (engineering pathway) or by doing a marine engineer apprenticeship.

Marine engineering is an available pathway on both the Level 2, intermediate apprenticeship and the advanced, Level3 apprenticeship. On the marine engineer apprenticeship programme you could work as a Merchant Navy Officer Trainee (engineering), assisting in the engine room with maintenance and repair. A higher marine engineering apprenticeship is also being developed.

The Royal Navy and Merchant Navy – marine engineer options

For anyone considering a career as a marine engineer, the Merchant Navy and the Royal Navy offer fantastic entry points and training as well as the option of sponsorship to attend specialist maritime training colleges throughout the UK.

Marine engineers in the Royal Navy ensure the smooth and efficient operation of the ship’s on-board mechanical and electrical equipment and carry out repairs, inspections and the maintenance of propulsion systems, refrigeration machinery, desk machinery and passenger systems.

Further marine engineer qualifications

Engineering Officers are required to undertake training involving spending time at both college and at sea, to work towards gaining an Engineering Officer of the Watch Certificate of Competence. They are also required to complete STCW basic safety training courses, covering personal survival techniques, fire prevention and firefighting, basic first aid and personal safety and social responsibilities and hold an ENG1 seafarer’s medical certificate. Additionally, as a marine engineer you will need training and certificates in Medical First Aid, Advanced Fire Fighting and CPSC & RB (Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats).

Offshore and onshore roles for a marine engineer

Whilst at sea or working offshore, as a marine engineer you will be a crucial part of a team, working with the Weapon Engineering, Logistics and Warfare departments, to make sure the ship can operate efficiently and as required by the Captain and Government.

Onshore, as a marine engineer you could join an integrated project team, reviewing and improving the current fleet or designing the fleet of the future. You could also be involved in the designing, building and maintenance of docks and harbours. The job of being a marine engineer is varied and you could be working for long periods away from home, so you must be willing to travel. For further information on all sorts of engineering careers, go to our Engineering web page.

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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