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What Are the Major Job Responsibilities for a Marine Engineer?

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A marine engineer is responsible for the maintenance and general operation of a ship's engines. He is expected to lead a team of skilled technical staff to ensure a ship runs safely and efficiently. A marine engineer should be resourceful and capable of improvising under often demanding circumstances. Marine engineers are employed by the army, in the gas and oil industry, in shipbuilding yards and by equipment manufacturers.

Main Responsibilities

Marine engineers are responsible for the design, maintenance and repair of the various mechanical systems in a ship. A marine engineer often works closely with the architect who designed the initial blueprint for a ship’s structure. A marine engineer is responsible for designing the propulsion system, auxiliary power mechanisms and other essential machinery required for a ship’s efficient functioning. He can also install new equipment in the body of a ship and assess whether it is running safely and efficiently with existing equipment.

Marine engineers perform installation and maintenance work on a ship’s water, air and hydraulics systems, as stated on the Royal Navy website. Some engineers are responsible for the construction of cooling systems to ensure important cargo is not harmed during transportation. Marine engineers must ensure that the systems they create will be impervious to damage during an ocean voyage.

Training Role

Marine engineers often operate alongside ship officers and assist them in training crew members on how to operate the ship’s equipment, says the UK Engineering Recruitment website. A marine engineer may also be responsible for aiding these officers in choosing the right mechanical tools and spare equipment parts that could be needed in emergency situations. Other marine engineers are responsible for producing detailed technical reports and instructional manuals for use by fellow engineers and various crew members.

Supervisory Role

Marine engineers can take on a supervisory role, making sure crew members install sensitive electrical and hydraulic equipment in the correct manner and on a set schedule. Marine engineers can also serve as ship inspectors, as indicated on the State University website. Inspectors ensure that all essential mechanical equipment is in good working order before a ship sets sail. Some inspectors are responsible for maintaining ships when they are docked on dry land and for overseeing any work done to a ship‘s infrastructure. A marine engineer needs to be vigilant in paying attention to every last detail of construction and maintenance of a ship‘s various devices as any oversight during construction can have disastrous consequences.

Career Prospects

According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, the median average wage for a marine engineer in the U.S. is $74,330 as of 2009. Candidates typically need a bachelor's degree in marine engineering for an entry-level position on a vessel. Significant experience in a relevant engineering-based role may also be useful. Most graduates continue their education to the master's degree level whilst employed, which will help them specialize their skills in a particular field and also improve salary prospects.

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About the Author

Jason Prader began writing professionally in 2009, and is a freelance writer with a sound academic background and experience in writing articles for online magazine Shavemagazine.com. He is highly adept at constructing academic essays and producing articles on an array of subject matter. He holds a master's degree in 20th century literature from the University of Sussex.