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.

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Career Definition

Freight carrying ships transport roughly 75% of the goods that are imported to or exported from America, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, www.bts.gov. 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).

Becoming a Marine Engineer

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, www.usnews.com. 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 was expected to grow by 10% from 2012-2022, due to demand for vessels that create less pollution, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The average salary for marine engineers as of May 2012 was $88,100.

Alternate Career Options

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 very good during the 2012-2022 decade, with 26% growth predicted by the BLS. As of May 2012, these engineers earned an annual median salary of $130,280, per the BLS.

Sales Engineer

Average job growth of 9% from 2012-2022 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 $91,830 per year in 2012, per the BLS, and normally had a bachelor's degree in engineering or a similar field.

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