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Qualifications for Becoming an Oiler on a Merchant Marine Ship

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The oiler is one of the rated technicians in the engine department of a Merchant Marine ship. Often, the endorsement is paired with the fireman/watertender rating. It is used as one of the key steps en route to licensing as a third assistant engineer, the most junior of officers in the engine department and the first step on the path to chief engineer.

Credential and Endorsement

You must hold a U.S. Merchant Mariner credential with an endorsement as a Qualified Member of the Engine Department, a QMED.


You must have taken the appropriate training in the maintenance and operation of boilers and marine diesel engines. Examinations are waived for those completing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved course.


You are required to have attended a class in basic and advanced firefighting offered by a school recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard as qualified to administer that training.


You must have a qualification under the Standards for Training and Certification of Watchkeepers (STCW-95 endorsement).


Upon successful completion of an approved course and presentation of proof to a Coast Guard Regional Examination Center, your credential will be endorsed as QMED, Oiler.


Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.

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