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Engineering careers

Marine Engineering

Why is marine engineering important?

It’s all about designing, building and manufacturing literally any type of vessel that travels in or on water – from the largest of aircraft carriers, oil tankers and cruise liners, to submarines, yachts and dinghies. This is the exciting world of the naval architect and marine engineer. The former designs the masterpiece and the latter works out how it will be brought to life!

Much of the world’s commerce relies on ships, whether it’s transporting oil or other precious cargo. If any of these ships encounter any technical problems, it’s imperative that experts are on hand to address any issues. Even the slightest sign of trouble can have unfavourable consequences: suppliers can miss deadlines, people can go without food or major disasters can occur. 

When it comes to international relations, peacekeeping and war, aircraft carriers, frigates, destroyers and submarines play a huge part in how world affairs are played out. If an international incident breaks out, fleets need to be mustered to ensure that national security can be ensured. It goes without saying that each of these vessels must be technologically advanced, secure and easy to maintain. Not exactly a simple task for a naval architect or marine engineer, we’re sure you’ll agree!

How do I get a job in marine engineering?

So where are the jobs and who employs these people? Our jobs board is always a good starting point as we’re constantly updating our list of engineering roles.

Additionally, given the size of the British fleet, the Royal Navy is understandably a huge employer of marine engineers. Furthermore, leisure boat yards, engineering consultancies, equipment manufacturers, the government and the big players in the gas and oil industry are all regularly on the lookout for great designers and engineers.

Don’t expect to spend all of your days cozied up in an office, drinking lattes and eating fresh fruit. Depending on the project, you’ll be working in the yard, by a port, on a ship, underwater or at a testing centre. In short, it’ll be anything but humdrum.

What are the different roles in the marine engineering industry?

There’s certainly more to this industry than meets the eye. It’s not all about naval architects and marine engineers. There are many other roles in this industry: from ship builders and site managers, to carpenters, welders, metal workers and carbon fibre technicians. Suppliers also play a huge part in this industry. The size of the ships and the massive variety of materials used to create these vessels necessitates a complex system of suppliers and contractors from various different disciplines. For example, Roman Abramovich employed the finest interior designers to kit out his super-yacht, Eclipse.

So what does being a marine engineer involve? You’re entrusted with taking a plan and delivering on it, and helping to bring it into reality. In short, it’s a very tricky process and requires people with very mathematical, problem-solving brains. Naval architects are responsible for conceptualising an idea, producing workable designs and liaising with engineers on its feasibility. When it all comes down to it though, it’s the marine engineer that needs to create the monster!

Most routes to becoming a naval architect or marine engineer tend to involve studying for a relevant university degree. However, you can also progress by doing an HND, a diploma or an appropriate apprenticeship.

While it’s not entirely clear sailing to get into a career in marine engineering, there’s no need to fly the white flag just yet! Scope out our job profiles and sea for yourself.