How To Become A Marine Engineer

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How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More

Marine Engineers

Marine Engineers design, develop, and take responsibility for the installation of ship machinery and related equipment including propulsion machines and power supply systems.

Becoming One
Bachelor's degree
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Table of contents
  1. Summary
  2. Steps to become one
  3. Popular degree levels
  4. How long does it take


Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree field Marine Engineering
License or certification Marine Engineers may obtain various professional and technical certifications depending on the specific duties of their job.
Duration to become one 4 years
Difficulty to become one Hard

Aspiring Marine Engineers typically need a Bachelor’s degree before entering this field.

Most Marine Engineers earn their Bachelor’s degrees in Marine Engineering.

Marine Engineers may obtain various professional and technical certifications depending on the specific duties of their job.

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Marine Engineers Requirements

Step 1: Take Science and Math Courses in High School

Aspiring Marine Engineers should continue taking science and math classes after meeting the state requirements. Algebra, Calculus, Trigonometry, Chemistry, and Physics all provide relevant skills and knowledge needed for a career in Marine Engineering. High SAT and ACT scores may also help when applying to a Marine Engineering program.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Engineering

Marine Engineers typically earn a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Engineering. However, some employers may hire candidates with related degrees, such as Mechanical Engineering or Electrical Engineering.

The program that you select should be accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). This is a requirement for most voluntary certifications and state licenses.

Along with colleges and universities, ABET-accredited Marine Engineering programs are offered at several state maritime academies. When attending a maritime academy, students learn at sea to gain onboard operating experience.

Step 3: Participate in an Internship or Cooperative Education Program

Look for internships and other cooperative education opportunities during college or immediately after graduating. Programs are often offered during the summer or winter and provide practical training. You may also use an internship to build professional connections that may help with employment after college.

Step 4: Look for Entry-Level Jobs in Marine Engineering

Most entry-level jobs involve working under the supervision of an experienced Engineer. You may also complete training programs or attend seminars.

As you gain more experience, your employer will likely assign you additional responsibilities. You may eventually develop designs and make decisions instead of following the orders of a senior Engineer.

Step 5: Earn a Professional Engineering License

As with Engineers in other fields, Marine Engineers often earn the Professional Engineering (PE) license. The PE license allows for additional responsibilities, such as supervising the work of other Engineers.

You need to start working before earning this license, as applicants require at least four years of experience. You also need to have completed an ABET-accredited Engineering program and pass two exams.

Engineers typically pass the initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam during their first few years of work. After passing this exam, you become an Engineer in Training (EIT). When you meet the work experience requirements, you may take the final PE exam to earn your professional license.

Step 6: Obtain Additional Industry Certifications

Along with the PE license, Marine Engineers may obtain various maritime certifications and licenses. Certifications such as the Standards for Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) are often needed to understand maritime laws and regulations for working on marine vessels.

There are dozens of additional certifications for specialized areas of maritime work, safety training, vessel operations, and Marine Engineering. As you progress in your career, you may need to obtain additional certifications to handle specific job responsibilities, such as operating radar equipment in marine environments.

Step 7: Earn a Master’s Degree

A Master’s degree is not required for most Marine Engineering positions. However, a graduate degree may increase your chances of obtaining a senior-level job.

Master’s programs also provide a chance to learn more about specific areas of Marine Engineering. With a Master’s of Science (MS) in Marine Engineering, students can explore various subspecialties, such as Hydrodynamics, Numerical Simulation Techniques, Applied Marine Thermodynamics, and Marine Mining and Dredging.

What degree do most Marine Engineers have

Bachelor’s degree

We did a survey to ask other Marine Engineers what degree they had when they first became one. Here are the results.

Bachelor’s degree

Master’s degree

High School Diploma

How long does it take

4 years

A Bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for most Marine Engineering jobs, which often takes four years to complete.

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