Marine Engineering Technician

The Job and What's Involved

Marine engineering technicians help build, convert, service and repair ships, offshore platforms, other marine structures and the equipment installed on them.

They use a range of tools and engineering skills, depending on the particular sector of the industry.

Marine engineering technicians may work at sea:

  • On the equipment used to explore the seabed for oil, gas and minerals.
  • On the operation and maintenance of offshore platforms and the equipment used to extract materials from the sea.
  • On cruise liners, leisure vessels, cargo ships or pipe-laying vessels to keep the engines, equipment and systems running properly.
  • Helping develop environmentally-friendly ways of disposing of unwanted machinery and equipment in the sea.

Marine engineering technicians may also work on dry land and this may include:

  • Shipbuilding and ship repair.
  • Making specialist equipment for boats.
  • Maintaining a fleet of leisure vessels for holiday and charter companies.
  • Checking marine safety for coastguard agencies.

Marine engineering technicians often work in teams under the direction of a professional engineer.

Working hours vary from job to job, but technicians usually work around 37.5 hours a week. There might also be overtime and shift work.

Marine engineering technicians work in a wide range of different environments, including factories and manufacturing units, shipyards, ports, marinas and coastal stations, at sea and on the seabed.

They may need to wear safety equipment, such as hard hats and protective overalls, for some jobs, and technicians working underwater need appropriate diving and underwater equipment.

Jobs at sea can mean working in rough weather conditions and some jobs can involve long periods away from home.

The starting salary for a newly-qualified marine engineering technician is around £14,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Marine engineering technicians work for a wide range of organisations:

Shipbuilders and repairers, where most of the work is based in six large commercial shipyards in the UK and in major ship repair facilities at ports around the coast.

Boatbuilders, where the work is usually in specialist firms involved in the construction and repair of yachts and small ships.

Plant equipment manufacturers which design and make equipment for use in shipyards, oil platforms and on ships and boats.

The leisure marine industry that includes small engine manufacturers, inland waterways hire fleets and marinas.

The Royal Navy where technicians are prepared for work on aircraft carriers, destroyers, mine counter-measure vessels and submarines.

The Merchant Navy, which is made up of individual shipping companies that operate ferries, cruise ships, container ships, tankers and specialised vessels.

There is a shortage of trained and skilled people and there are good opportunities for technicians at the moment.

Jobs are likely to be advertised in Marine Engineers Review, The Journal of Offshore Technology, in the local press and through employers' websites, particularly those of shipping companies.

Education and Training

The usual entry route is through an Advanced Apprenticeship leading to a technician level qualification. Some Apprenticeships lead directly to engineering technician registration by the Engineering Council UK, which means individuals can use the letters EngTech after their name.

Entry requirements for Advanced Apprenticeships vary, but are likely to be four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) including maths, science or technology, or equivalent qualifications. In some cases an A level/H grade or equivalent is required.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact

Entry requirements for marine engineering technician training in the Royal Navy or Merchant Navy may vary. Their websites and the job articles on Royal Navy and Merchant Navy jobs have full details.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

The Apprenticeship programme takes three to four years and includes training at work and at college. It leads to an NVQ/SVQ in Marine Engineering at either Level 2 or 3 and often to additional qualifications such as a BTEC national certificate/diploma.

To achieve EngTech status, technicians must register formally with the Engineering Council as an engineering technician and will need:

  • An appropriate qualification such as an NVQ/SVQ Level 3, a BTEC national certificate/diploma or an SQA national certificate group award.
  • At least three years' relevant work experience, including suitable further training and development.
  • To be a member of a relevant professional institution.
  • To take a final test called a professional review.

A Diploma will help you make a more informed choice about the type of learning that best suits you and about what kind of work or further study you may want to do afterwards.

The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) accredits training courses that lead to membership at engineering technician level.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A marine engineering technician needs:

  • Practical engineering skills.
  • To be able to understand technical drawings and information.
  • To be able to use a range of hand and power tools.
  • To be able to react quickly and find solutions to problems.
  • To be able to work as part of a team.
  • Good computer skills.
  • To be able to cope with travel or periods at sea.

Your Long Term Prospects

Promotion prospects in the larger companies and with the Royal Navy are very good.

With experience, marine engineering technicians can move into jobs with more responsibility or into supervisory roles in all areas of the industry.

With further study, technicians could progress to incorporated or chartered engineer status.

Get Further Information

British Marine Federation, Marine House,
Thorpe Lea Road, Egham, Surrey TW20 8BF
Tel: 01784 473377

Engineering Council UK (ECUK),
246 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500

Institute of Marine Engineering, Science
and Technology (IMarEST), 80 Coleman Street,
London EC2R 5BJ
Tel: 020 7382 2600

The Institution of Engineering and Technology
(formerly Institution of Electrical Engineers and
Institution of Incorporated Engineers),
Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL
Tel: 020 7240 1871

The Marine Society,
202 Lambeth Road, London SE1 7JW
Tel: 020 7654 7000

The Merchant Navy Association,
9 Saxon Way, Caistor, Market Rasen,
Lincolshire LN7 6SG
Tel: 01472 851130

SEMTA (Science, Engineering
and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance),
14 Upton Road, Watford WD18 0JT
Tel: 01923 238441

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