How to Become a Marine Engineer

Marine engineers are professional engineers who design, build, repair and test all manner of naval vessels and platforms. If you have a passion for engineering, maths and also for working underwater, then this might be a good career choice for you.

What do Marine engineers do?

Marine engineers are similar to other types of engineers except that they work on maritime projects. Often working as part of a team, under the supervision of a naval architect they spend a large amount of their time helping to design, build and test new boats, ships, offshore platforms and pipelines. They also carry out maintenance and repair work on all of these different types of naval vessels and structures. Their work is extremely complex and involves extensive knowledge of engineering and very good IT and CAD skills.

Typical daily activities could include:

  • Helping to design, build, test and maintain new boats, ships and naval machinery.
  • Shipbuilding, Boat-building and repair – working on the design, development, construction and maintenance of ships, boats and machinery
  • Leisure boat manufacturing, maintenance and repair industry, in the UK this can involve anything from canal barges to super yachts
  • Helping to design, build and operate offshore platforms, rigs, pipelines and equipment for the oil and gas industry
  • Inspecting the safety, seaworthiness and maintenance needs of a ship or offshore platform
  • If you work for the Merchant or Royal Navy you can specialise in surface shipping, submarines or weapons systems. And ensure that all the engines and instruments are working correctly.
  • Supervising a team of marine technicians and craftspeople.


Marine engineers get a reasonable salary and it varies depending on the company that employs you. However, as with any career if you are employed by the government, the Merchant Navy or Royal Navy then you will be paid less than the private sector.

Entry Level/ Graduate Engineer

£24,000 – £26,000

Experienced Engineer

£28,000 - £50,000

National Careers Service

Skills Required

  • Natural ability in math and science subjects
  • To be a logical and methodical thinker
  • Great communication and teamwork skills
  • Excellent problem solving skills
  • A keen attention to detail
  • Very Good IT Skills
  • Excellent skills with Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
  • Leadership and Management skills

Qualifications Required

The most basic qualification is to get either a HNC/HND or Degree in a relevant subject such as:

  • Marine engineering
  • Marine technology
  • Naval architecture
  • Offshore engineering

You can also join either the Merchant or Royal Navy to train as a marine engineer, and once you have completed your required service, join the private sector.

Another option is to start working for a company as a marine engineering technician and work your way up through an apprenticeship programme.

Career Prospects and Development

Continual professional development is very important and it is vital that you keep your knowledge up to date. As an engineer it is also important to work towards incorporated and eventually chartered engineer status from the engineering council in order to improve your career prospects. Both of these organisations provide continual professional development:

Engineering Council

Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology

Career prospects for Marine engineers are good. The naval construction industry is very strong in the UK especially for luxury crafts, North Sea oil equipment and military vessels. As such it is a stable growth area in the UK. In fact, the number of people employed in the science and engineering sector in the UK is predicted to grow from 1440000 in 2014 to 1562000 by 2020.

Despite good career prospects, this is certainly not a career for everyone. You need to have excellent math and IT skills as well as a love for the ocean. However, if you feel that you have all of the right attributes then this may be the right career choice for you.