Marine or Naval Engineer

Marine or naval engineers are in charge of the operations, maintenance, and installation of engines and machinery on ships.

  • Entry-level education

    Apprenticeship or traineeship

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Marine or Naval Engineer do?

Marine or naval engineers are in charge of the operations, maintenance, and installation of engines and machinery on ships. This role may be also known as ship's engineer or engineering officer.


Work activities

As a marine engineer, you would:

  • install, operate, maintain and repair engines on ships and offshore structures
  • operate and maintain other mechanical and electronic equipment on ships and vessels
  • control the speed of a vessel, according to orders from the ship's captain
  • monitor and test heating, ventilation, refrigeration, water and sewerage systems on board vessels
  • repair faults in onboard electrical and mechanical systems
  • order and keep stock of spare parts, fuels and oils.

Key skills and interests

To become a marine engineer, you would need:

  • to be physically fit
  • to enjoy technical and engineering activities
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • good hand-eye coordination
  • to be adaptable and flexible in solving problems, especially when at sea.

Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

As a marine engineer you would be expected to work a set number of hours per week, but these would usually be long hours while at sea, followed by extended periods of time on offshore leave.


Marine engineers work on passenger liners and ferries, cargo and freight ships, barges, fishing vessels and research vessels. Marine engineers may spend long periods of time at sea, away from home. Conditions on board ships can be rough and you would work in all types of weather. A ship's engine room is generally hot, noisy and dirty. Marine engineers are also often required to work at heights and in confined spaces.


How to become an Marine or Naval Engineer?

Entry Level Education

To become a marine engineer you must complete an apprenticeship in an Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) approved engineering trade, followed by training to earn a certificate of competency as an engineer watchkeeper. Approved trades are fitter and turner/machinist, diesel fitter and electrical fitter.

To be eligible for a certificate of competency as an engineer watchkeeper, you must be at least 20 years of age, complete at least 36 months of practical marine engineer training (which includes training both at sea and ashore), complete a Diploma of Transport and Distribution (Marine Engineering - Engineer Watchkeeper) and complete training in fire fighting at sea, first aid and survival at sea.

When these requirements have been met you will be eligible to sit an oral exam set by AMSA. Upon successful completion of this exam you will be issued with a certificate of competency and will be able to work as a Third Engineer on an Australian or international vessel. With experience and further training you will be able to progress to become a marine engineer at a more senior level.

To become a naval engineer in the Royal Australian Navy, you must undergo Navy-specific entry requirements and training.


Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment opportunities for marine engineers are expected to grow at an average rate.

The boom in the cruising industry has increased the need for marine engineers to work on these ships. As a greater volume of international cargo comes in and out of Australian ports, more marine engineers will also be needed to help run these vessels. Potential growth may be tempered by the appointment of offshore based, rather than local, staff on internationally registered vessels.


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