How To Become A Marine Engineer
Good with your hands? Becoming a marine engineer is a popular career path for technically-minded people with a passion for boats and the sea.
There are many different types of marine engineering roles available, both at sea and ashore, and there are lots of routes you can take if you want to become qualified.
Working at sea
If you want to become a professional seafarer and work as a marine engineer onboard ships at sea, you’ll need to obtain the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Engineer Officer of the Watch (OOW) Certificate of Competency (CoC).
The most common and recommended route to doing this involves gaining sponsorship from a marine shipping company. Your employer will pay you an apprentice’s salary and sponsor your university or college course, plus give you specialist training ashore and sea-time onboard. You’ll gain either a Foundation Degree, Higher National Diploma (HND) or Higher National Certificate (HNC) depending on which course you choose, and ultimately you’ll qualify with your MCA Engineer Officer of the Watch CoC.
The Careers at Sea website has more useful information, including a list of sponsoring companies you can apply to. It’s part of the Merchant Navy Training Board which in turn is part of the UK Chamber of Shipping.
Warsash Maritime Academy is known to be one of the top maritime academies, and another useful website to look at for further information about the different qualifications and possible routes. However, industry insiders have recently been talking about a decline in Warsash’s reputation among cadet sponsors. Warsash are moving officer cadets into a new Southampton city centre base, away from the waterfront at Warsash. This has been negatively received and sponsors such as BP have stopped sending their cadets there, instead moving training up to Glasgow and North Shields.
Being a marine engineer doesn’t just mean working away at sea on ships. If you’re more interested in working ashore, there are roles available within the leisure marine industry. The types of companies that might employ you include marine engineering firms based in marinas and boatyards, and the type of work they do will involve fixing and servicing a range of machinery onboard leisure boats – from diesel engines to generators and watermakers.
A good way to get into this area of marine engineering would be to find an apprenticeship with one of these companies, and study on day-release for a Higher National Diploma (HND) or Higher National Certificate (HNC) in marine engineering.
Don’t forget that, if it appeals, the Royal Navy also has fantastic opportunities for marine engineering. They have a range of positions available including Apprentice, Technician and Officer roles depending on your current level of experience.