Do you have good practical skills and want to put them to use, are interested in engineering, and would love to be involved in shipbuilding? If yes, consider becoming a marine engineering technician.
What are the responsibilities of a marine engineering technician?
The job of a marine engineering technician is varied and long stays away from home are a norm. Marine engineering technicians design, build, service and repair boats and ships. Or they work on offshore platforms and drilling machinery. As a marine engineering technician, you should be ready to travel a lot.
According to the National Career Service, anyone who aspires to be a marine engineering technician has to have the following skills:
- the ability to find practical solutions to problems
- IT skills and knowledge of computer-aided design programs
- the ability to read plans and understand drawings
- good communication and teamwork skills
Your exact duties will depend on where you work and may include any of the following: fault-finding and repairing electronic, hydraulic and mechanical equipment on boats and ships, assisting in the design and development of new marine equipment, providing engineering support on board a dive support vessel, renovating older craft with new navigation and communications systems.
Entry requirements and qualifications needed
There are a number of different pathways for those who decided to become a marine engineering technician.
You may be able to start as a marine industry apprentice. Usually, there are different types of apprenticeships depending on where you live, what types of jobs are available, and/or skills required by local employers. To get admitted to an apprenticeship, you will need to have completed at least 4 GCSEs (A-C), including math, English and a science subject. There is a lot of useful information, career advice, and job announcements on this Apprenticeships website.
In case you don't want to start as an apprentice or could not find a suitable opportunity in your area, you can take a college course in engineering. The courses won't be an exact match to your future career options, but you will be able to get some of the key technical skills. The list of useful courses includes:
Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in Mechanical Engineering
Level 2 Certificate in Marine Construction, Systems Engineering and Maintenance
Level 2 Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technology
Level 2 Diploma in Fabrication and Welding Engineering Technology
Another option to embark on a career of a marine engineering technician is to train with the Merchant Navy or Royal Navy. After completing one of these traineeships, you will be able to move to a private employer and work as a marine engineering technician.
The work and income
As a marine engineering technician, you will normally work 38 hours a week. Overtime is common in busier periods, including during stays away from home on offshore platforms. An office, shipyard or port, offshore platform or underwater installments can all be your workplace, depending on the task you will be assigned to. As a marine engineering technician, you should be ready to work at nights and in all weather conditions.
Starting salaries will range between £15,000 and £21,000 a year. You will be able to make up to £30,000 once you become more experienced.
Employers and career development
You can look for a job in civilian and naval shipyards, boatyards and marinas, onshore marine engineering and platform construction companies, or marine engineering equipment suppliers. With experience, you can be assigned to a supervisory role, or can have a choice of a narrower area of specialisation.
For some general reading, useful tips, and current vacancies for marine engineering technicians, see: