Marine Engineer: Employment Info & Career Requirements
Marine engineers design, construction, 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. A bachelor's or master's degree in marine engineering is required for most work in this field.
Career Definition of a Marine Engineer
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 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov.
Becoming a Marine Engineer
Required Education for a Career in Marine Engineering
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 for a Career as a Marine Engineer
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 for Marine Engineering
Demand for marine engineers was expected to grow by 17% from 2010-2020, due to demand for vessels that create less pollution, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The average salary for marine engineers as of May 2012 was $88,100.
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