Marine Engineer Career Information
What a Marine Engineer does
If you thought you got to be a sailor to have a career in the sea, then read this. There are various options you can choose from. In fact there are more career gateways in the shipping industry than most of us realise. This branch of engineering stands out from others mainly because of the job opportunities that lie at the end.
As a marine engineer, you will be responsible for the ship's machinery and equipment and its engine department. This includes all the mechanical, electrical and electronic systems on board a ship. At sea you will be responsible for the smooth working of all systems and be able to solve problems quickly, should anything go wrong.
On shore you will be responsible for over seeing the maintenance and any refits that you may consider necessary. Yours will be an important job as without its propellers a ship is as good as a big piece of metal! Later on, you could move on to designing next generation ships, or specialise in the repair and maintenance of boats.
The life of a marine engineer is not an easy one. You will mostly be below the deck of the ship. You will have to memorise your way through the main engine, boilers and pumps, hydraulic and fuel systems including the ships electrical plant and distribution system. If any part of a ship's systems fails, it must be dismantled, assessed, repaired, reassembled and put back into operation. This will be your responsibility.
You will get an opportunity to work on passenger liners and ferries, ships carrying cargo, offshore oil and gas supply and pipelining vessels, warships and submarines, and a variety of other specialised craft. So you better be prepared to get your hands dirty.
A seafaring career begins as a Junior or Fifth engineer. The ranks progress to Fourth Engineer, Third Engineer, Second Engineer and finally at the apex - Chief Engineer. At this level you will be the technical equivalent of the captain.
Marine Engineers for the most part of their lives work at sea. But there are plenty of shore-based jobs available. You can work in the shipping industry for trading, buying, freighting and selling cargo.
A marine engineer may find opportunities in: -
• Merchant Navy carrying cargo and passengers
• Luxury cruise liners
• Defence forces like Indian Navy, Coast Guard
In large passenger ships you could function as a Hotel Services Engineer. You will take care of galley equipment, air conditioning and passenger lifts.
In ships that carry perishable items such as frozen foods etc., you could function as the refrigeration engineer.
On scientific survey ships or those involved in cable laying you will be in charge for the use and maintenance of diving equipment. In the Indian navy, in addition to maintaining the ship's engines, you will also have the opportunity to operate complex weapon systems on ships and even submarines.
Offshore, you could find employment in dockyards as well as companies engaged in ship building. You can also take up jobs with a harbour or port department. But for these offshore posts some experience at sea is required.
Shipping has always been a big industry. Although there isn't much indication of any great surge in the industry, there isn't any decline either. The job opportunity has remained stable and the demand supply ratio has remained constant. A large number of engineering graduates opt for this field and so competition remains high.
Abilities & Traits Required
This is what you need if you are planning a career as a marine engineer.
• Ability to adjust with people
• Ability to handle stress
• Should be level-headed
• Practical and cool in times of crisis
For starters, Mechanical and Electronic Engineers qualify for training in Marine Engineering.
However, those of you who want to start early need to take the IIT entrance exams after the 12th standard. The course is conducted at Marine Engineering Research Institute (MERI), in Calcutta and in Mumbai. It offers a government recognised BE Marine Engineering. There are also some courses offered at other institutes.
You course will include practical training including operating, overhauling and testing auxiliary power plants in addition to the fundamentals of marine engineering.
In the beginning of your career, expect a salary of Rs 40000-50000 a month as a Fifth Engineer on a merchant marine vessel. The pay scales are much lesser in Indian Navy.
Heading for the Merchant Navy is extremely lucrative. Just look at the money - a First Officer in the Merchant Navy gets up to Rs 150000 every month! And the Chief Engineer earns as much as Rs 250000 per month!