The past few years have witnessed a steady growth in international trade and with that, the demand for marine engineers has increased manifold. This is no surprise considering the fact that shipping is the cheapest and easiest mode of transportation globally. Thus, marine engineering as a career is well sought after throughout the world.
Fortunately, there are lots of career opportunities in the field as well, be it private, educational, corporate, or governmental sectors. With modern advancements and computer-aided navigation, the demand for marine engineers has only increased.
What is the job of a Marine Engineer?
Marine engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with boats and ships. It includes repairing, designing, operating, and maintaining ships and the equipment used in them. It deals with the technical aspects of ships and is one of those branches of engineering with the most scope.
The responsibility of a marine engineer concerns the design, construction, and maintenance of seagoing vessels and the various equipment within. Marine engineering in itself is a very vast field with several sub-branches of study like naval architecture and nautical science.
A marine engineer is also in charge of building, installing, inspecting, and maintaining the propulsion systems and also that of the engines, pumps, and other parts of the vessel. Overall their job is to see to the effective functioning of the maritime vessels which something can be as complex as frigates, warships, and submarines.
Marine engineers are required to select an area of specialization. Suppose you are an aspirant then you would be given the choice of focussing and developing your skillset on maintaining propulsion systems and engines when the ships are in the dry docks. You also have the option of focussing on other areas of study like underwater vehicle research, cable laying work, renewable energy production in marine areas, etc.
Alternatively, if you like to work with computer-aided design (CAD) software then you can spend your time as a design engineer and make a complex system. Thanks to such designers, during the latter half of the 19th century, marine engines for propulsion made their way to the system and totally changed the method of traveling by sea vessels.
Presently several such technologies have been introduced to enhance the machines and their parts like fuel cells and magnetohydrodynamics and research in several different parts of the system is going on. They would make our journey into the seas and oceans much better in the future.
Your responsibilities will depend on the area of marine engineering you have chosen. Based on that you will be given a project whereby you have to communicate with the client regarding the specifics of the project.
Once you familiarize yourself with the requirements of the project you will be devoting yourself to the research, design development, testing, production, and all that is necessary for it along with several others who might also be working on the same project as you. Your goal would be to keep the budget and time in check while you work your way towards the completion of the project.
The discussion so far might lead you to the misconception that marine engineering is all about the hands-on approach. Senior engineers are often given the task of project management and budget planning.
Read more: Top Marine Careers – Sea Jobs On Ships
Specialties in Marine Engineering
A Naval Architect is an engineer responsible for the design, construction, and repair of all types of marines vessels like ships, boats, and offshore structures. They are one of the pillars of the shipping industry. Read more about the naval architect course.
Compared to the naval architect a naval mechanical engineer is more concerned with the essential details of the ship components like the main propulsion plant, the mechanization and powering aspect of the ship like steering, anchoring, ventilation, etc.
How the cargo is going to be loaded and unloaded into the vessel is also devised by the mechanical engineers. Ships are equipped with communication systems. That too is designed by mechanical engineers.
Oceanography or may be defined as the study of physical and biological aspects of the ocean that includes is an ecosystem, plate tectonics, lava flows, current waves, etc. They in turn help in understanding other branches of research and study. Ships that are equipped with the kind of technology that enables such research need oceanographic engineers. They develop and take care of the mechanical, electrical, and electronic, and computing technology that is used for the purpose.
Read more: Most lucrative careers on sea
What is the average salary of a marine engineer?
There is no doubt that marine engineering is a lucrative profession with starting salaries ranging from $26,000 per annum to $40,000 per annum. Senior positions can fetch you something north of $100,000 per annum. If you are a freelancing contractor, you can earn even more. The top 10% in this field earn a staggering $145,790 per annum.
How to become a Marine Engineer?
Although you can get into this profession with a degree in any relevant field like physics, maths, mechanical, architectural, or electrical engineering having a degree in marine engineering is always an added advantage. It would also do you good if you have some work experience that you can show before you apply for a job. Many companies offer graduate development programs. The good thing about this is that you get placed in different departments and organizations, giving you the opportunity to gain some hands-on experience.
These training schemes span over two to three years depending on the company policy and also to a great extent on what you would be specializing in. As you work your way towards the career of a marine engineer with a chartered status you will be given financial support alongside the in-house training.
As you gain more and more experience from your work, it is a good idea to apply for managerial roles in the same company that you are working for. If you are willing to study further, then you can take a look at naval architecture. Once you have earned enough reputation you can choose to provide consultation services. However, that will require you to be very patient as you build up your credibility.
New fields like the combination of different alternative energy sources with the traditional ones, etc. continue to create a steady demand for marine engineers. With the government taking steps to curb pollution by setting regulations regarding emissions, companies might be forced to make certain changes to their system. This will create openings for new jobs. Now is probably the best time to jump into this field because the market is yet to be saturated. But it is also necessary to keep one’s hopes and expectations in check.