Marine Engineer

Job Description:

Marine engineers design, build, test and repair boats, ships, underwater craft, offshore platforms and drilling equipment.

Job Category:
Engineering & Construction

What you will do:

You’ll need a detailed technical knowledge of naval construction, and mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering systems.

Depending on the industry you work in, your duties could include:

  • shipbuilding, boat-building and repair
  • working in the leisure boat industry
  • designing, building and operating offshore gas and oil platforms
  • marine surveying
  • making sure engines, instruments and systems work safely
  • keep up to date with laws for safety and environmental protection


You’ll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • knowledge of physics
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

As well as:

  • design skills and knowledge (creativity)
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • complex problem-solving skills
  • ability to manage a team (leadership skills)
  • budget management skills
  • computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) skills
  • the ability to prioritise workloads and plan effectively (organisational skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Marine Engineer, you’ll need to focus on subjects that provide a strong foundation in mathematics, science, and engineering. While there are no specific GCSE (or equivalent) subjects that are absolutely mandatory, certain subjects are highly recommended to prepare you for a career in this field. Here’s a list of relevant subjects and skills to consider:

  1. Mathematics: Mathematics is fundamental for engineering, and a strong foundation in subjects like algebra, geometry, and calculus is crucial for marine engineering.
  2. Physics: Physics helps you understand the principles of mechanics, thermodynamics, and fluid dynamics, which are essential in marine engineering.
  3. Chemistry: Basic knowledge of chemistry can be useful, particularly for understanding materials and corrosion in marine environments.
  4. Design and Technology: Courses in design and technology can introduce you to engineering principles and problem-solving skills.
  5. Engineering-related Subjects: If available, consider taking engineering-related courses, as they can provide valuable insights and hands-on experience.
  6. Computer Science or ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Proficiency in using computers and software is important for marine engineers, who often work with complex computer systems on ships.
  7. English: Good communication skills, including written and verbal communication, are important in engineering to convey ideas and collaborate with team members.

Post School

You’ll usually need an Higher National Certificate, Higher National Diploma or degree in an engineering subject to get into this career.

Relevant subjects include:

  • marine engineering
  • marine technology
  • naval architecture
  • offshore engineering

You could also:

  • train as an engineering technician with the Merchant Navy or Royal Navy, studying for a degree while on the job
  • get into this career through a marine engineering technician apprenticeship

In the UK, The Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology (IMarEST) and the British Marine Federation have more information about becoming a marine engineer.

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll be expected to work flexible hours, which may include shift work and weekends.

If you work in ship design or construction, your job would be shore based.

You could also be away from home for long periods, working on ships, submarines or offshore installations.

This job can be physically demanding.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could specialise in project management, research and development or consultancy.

There are also opportunities overseas for experienced marine engineers.