Marine Engineers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Important high school classes for marine engineers include mathematics, physics, English, speech, shop, computer science, and computer-aided design. Since marine engineers find employment opportunities throughout the world, you should also take a foreign language and social studies classes.

Postsecondary Education

You will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering, naval engineering, ocean engineering, or naval architecture to enter the field. Some marine engineers have degrees in mechanical, civil, electrical, or electronics engineering with concentrations or minors in marine engineering. A master’s or doctoral degree is required for most jobs in research and higher education, and for supervisory and administrative positions.

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) sets minimum education standards for educational programs in marine engineering and related fields. Graduation from an ABET-accredited school is a requirement for becoming licensed in many states, so it is important to select an accredited school.

Typical classes in a postsecondary marine engineering training program include Computer Techniques, Economics of Ship Design, Introduction to Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture, Naval Hydrodynamics, Nuclear Propulsion, Propeller Theory and Cavitation, Ship Design and Dynamics, Ship Model Testing, Ship Power Systems, Ship Resistance and Propulsion, Applied Marine Therodynamics, Ship Structure Analysis, Small Commercial Vessel Design, Small Craft Design, and Underwater Operations.  

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Engineers generally become certified through a licensing process. They take the exams for a mariner's license given by the United States Coast Guard. Various stages of the license are 3rd Assistant License, 2nd Assistant License, 1st Assistant License, and finally Chief Assistant.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

To be a successful marine engineer, you should have strong mathematical and technical knowledge, be able to work both independently and as a member of a team, have strong communication skills, be able to multitask, have good management skills, and meet deadlines. Some marine engineers must be willing to travel at a moment’s notice to respond to emergencies. Engineers in this type of position need to be able to work well under pressure and act quickly and decisively to solve problems. Some physical activity—such as bending, stooping, climbing, and reaching—may be required for certain positions.