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Working As a Marine Design Engineer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Getting Information
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Provide Consultation and Advice to Others
  • Make Decisions

  • $78,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Marine Design Engineer Do

Marine engineers and naval architects design, build, and maintain ships from aircraft carriers to submarines, from sailboats to tankers. Marine engineers are also known as marine design engineers or marine mechanical engineers, and are primarily responsible for the internal systems of a ship, such as propulsion, electrical, refrigeration, and steering. Naval architects are primarily responsible for ship design, including the form, structure, and stability of hulls.

Duties

Marine engineers typically do the following:

  • Prepare system layouts and detailed drawings and schematics
  • Inspect marine equipment and machinery, and draw up work requests and job specifications
  • Conduct environmental, operational, or performance tests on marine machinery and equipment
  • Design and oversee the testing, installation, and repair of marine equipment
  • Investigate and test machinery and equipment to ensure compliance with standards
  • Coordinate activities with regulatory bodies to ensure that repairs and alterations are done safely and at minimal cost
  • Prepare technical reports for use by engineers, managers, or sales personnel
  • Prepare cost estimates, contract specifications, and design and construction schedules 
  • Maintain contact with contractors to be sure that the work is being done correctly, on schedule, and within budget

Naval architects typically do the following:

  • Study design proposals and specifications to establish basic characteristics of a ship, such as its size, weight, and speed
  • Develop sectional and waterline curves of the ship’s hull to establish the center of gravity, ideal hull form, and data on buoyancy and stability
  • Design entire ship hulls and superstructures, following safety and regulatory standards
  • Design the complete layout of ships’ interiors, including spaces for machinery and auxiliary equipment, passenger compartments, cargo space, ladder wells, and elevators
  • Confer with marine engineers to design the layout of boiler room equipment, heating and ventilation systems, refrigeration equipment, electrical distribution systems, safety systems, steering, and propulsion machinery
  • Lead teams from a variety of specialties to oversee building and testing prototypes
  • Evaluate how ships perform during trials, both in the dock and at sea, and change designs as needed to make sure that national and international standards are met

Marine engineers and naval architects apply knowledge from a range of engineering fields to the entire water vehicles’ design and production processes. Marine engineers also design and maintain offshore oil rigs and may work on alternative energy projects, such as wind turbines located offshore and tidal power.

Marine engineers and naval architects who work for ship and boat building firms design large ships such as passenger ships and cargo ships, as well as small craft such as inflatable boats and rowboats. Those who work in the federal government may design or test the designs of ships or systems for the Army, Navy, or Coast Guard.

Ship engineers, who are sometimes called marine engineers, operate or supervise the operation of the machinery on a ship. Their work differs from that of the marine engineers discussed in this profile. For more information on ship engineers, see the profile on water transportation workers.

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How To Become A Marine Design Engineer

Marine engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering, marine systems engineering, or marine engineering technology, and naval architects typically need a bachelor’s degree in naval architecture. Employers also value practical experience, so cooperative education programs, which provide college credit and job experience, are valuable.

Education

Marine engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering, marine systems engineering, or marine engineering technology, and naval architects typically need a bachelor’s degree in naval architecture. Programs typically include courses in calculus, physics, and computer-aided design. Some programs are offered at one of the six state maritime academies. Courses specific to marine engineering and naval architecture include fluid mechanics, ship hull strength, and mechanics of materials. Some marine engineers have bachelor’s degrees in mechanical or electrical engineering.

Students studying marine engineering and naval architecture at the maritime academies spend time at sea, usually during the summer, to gain onboard operating experience.

Programs in marine engineering, naval architecture, marine systems engineering, and marine engineering technology are accredited by ABET.

Students interested in preparing for this occupation benefit from taking high school courses in math, such as algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; and science, such as chemistry and physics. For aspiring naval architects, drafting courses are helpful.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Marine engineers and naval architects must be able to give clear instructions and explain complex concepts when leading teams of professionals on projects.

Ingenuity. Marine engineers and naval architects must use operations analysis to create a design that will most likely perform the ship’s functions. They then employ skills of critical thinking to anticipate and correct any deficiencies before the ship is built or set to sea.

Interpersonal skills. Marine engineers and naval architects meet with clients to analyze their needs for ship systems. Engineers must be able to discuss progress with clients to keep redesign options open before the project is too far along.

Math skills. Marine engineers and naval architects use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Marine engineers must design several systems that work well together in ships. Naval architects and marine engineers are expected to solve problems for their clients. They must draw on their knowledge and experience to make effective decisions.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Along with earning a bachelor’s degree, students at states’ maritime academies take an exam for a U.S. Merchant Mariner’s license from the U.S. Coast Guard. The first stage of the license is known as the 3rd Assistant Engineer’s License. With experience and further testing, a marine engineer may get a 2nd and then a 1st Assistant Engineer’s License. The highest level of licensure is known as Chief Engineer. Higher grades of licensing usually are accompanied by higher pay and more responsibilities.

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as an engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires all of the following:

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Advancement

Beginning marine engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In larger companies, new engineers also may receive formal training in classrooms or seminars. As beginning engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move on to more difficult projects where they have greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.

Eventually, marine engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some may even become engineering managers or move into other managerial positions or sales work. In sales, an engineering background enables them to discuss technical aspects of certain kinds of engineering projects. Such knowledge is also useful in assisting clients in project planning, installation, and use. For more information, see the profiles on architectural and engineering managers and sales managers.

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Highest Marine Design Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Marine Design Engineer Enertech Services International, Inc. Houston, TX Jun 18, 2010 $110,000
Senior Marine Design Enginer Enertech Services International Houston, TX Jun 18, 2010 $76,000
Marine Design Engineer A.K. Suda, Inc. Metairie, LA Feb 01, 2010 $57,000
Senior Marine Design Enginer Enertech Services International Houston, TX Jun 18, 2010 $54,387

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Top Skills for A Marine Design Engineer

  1. Autocad
  2. ABS
  3. Hvac
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepared detailed AutoCAD drawings of mechanical and structural systems and gained experience in troubleshooting ship repair issues.
  • Used formulas to calculate surfaces, volumes, measures, circumferences and areas to solve variety of concrete and abstract variables
  • Surveyed HVAC systems for a powdered pharmaceutical facility in Wisconsin, discovering cross contamination of production areas with the existing equipment.
  • Create models using SolidWorks and participated in cross-functional product-development meetings.
  • Generate manufacturing documentation including part and assembly drawings for use by in-house personnel, and outside vendors.

Marine Design Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

77.8%

Unknown

11.1%

Female

11.1%
Ethnicity

White

61.6%

Hispanic or Latino

14.6%

Black or African American

11.5%

Asian

8.6%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Vietnamese

100.0%

Marine Design Engineer Education

Schools

Thomas Nelson Community College

9.1%

Texas A&M University

9.1%

Michigan Technological University

4.5%

Art Institute of Charleston

4.5%

University of South Alabama

4.5%

San Francisco State University

4.5%

University of Houston

4.5%

Portland State University

4.5%

Washington University in Saint Louis

4.5%

Portland Community College

4.5%

Tidewater Community College

4.5%

University of Pennsylvania

4.5%

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

4.5%

American University

4.5%

Diablo Valley College

4.5%

Bradley University

4.5%

Gannon University

4.5%

Norwalk Community College

4.5%

University of Maine

4.5%

Rochester Institute of Technology

4.5%
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Majors

Mechanical Engineering

20.6%

Drafting And Design

8.8%

Business

8.8%

Graphic Design

5.9%

Architecture

5.9%

Marine Engineering

5.9%

Engineering

5.9%

Music

2.9%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.9%

Area Studies

2.9%

Finance

2.9%

Industrial Technology

2.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.9%

Aviation

2.9%

Law

2.9%

Elementary Education

2.9%

Computer Applications

2.9%

Public Relations

2.9%

Ocean Engineering

2.9%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

34.2%

Other

26.3%

Masters

23.7%

Associate

10.5%

Certificate

5.3%
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Updated May 19, 2020