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Career Profile: Ship Engineers

Supervise and coordinate activities of crew engaged in operating and maintaining engines, boilers, deck machinery, and electrical, sanitary, and refrigeration equipment aboard ship.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 7,800 people employed as ship engineers in the United States. The median annual salary is $76,000. Entry level employees earn approximately $43,440 per year and senior employees earn approximately $131,570 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Supervise marine engine technicians engaged in the maintenance or repair of mechanical or electrical marine vessels, and inspect their work to ensure that it is performed properly.
  • Order and receive engine room stores, such as oil or spare parts, maintain inventories, and record usage of supplies.
  • Fabricate engine replacement parts, such as valves, stay rods, or bolts, using metalworking machinery.
  • Act as a liaison between a ship's captain and shore personnel to ensure that schedules and budgets are maintained and that the ship is operated safely and efficiently.
  • Start engines to propel ships, and regulate engines and power transmissions to control speeds of ships, according to directions from captains or bridge computers.
  • Maintain or repair engines, electric motors, pumps, winches, or other mechanical or electrical equipment, or assist other crew members with maintenance or repair duties.
  • Perform or participate in emergency drills, as required.
  • Monitor engine, machinery, or equipment indicators when vessels are underway, and report abnormalities to appropriate shipboard staff.
  • Maintain complete records of engineering department activities, including machine operations.
  • Perform general marine vessel maintenance or repair work, such as repairing leaks, finishing interiors, refueling, or maintaining decks.
  • Monitor the availability, use, or condition of lifesaving equipment or pollution preventatives to ensure that international regulations are followed.
  • Install engine controls, propeller shafts, or propellers.
  • Record orders for changes in ship speed or direction, and note gauge readings or test data, such as revolutions per minute or voltage output, in engineering logs or bellbooks.
  • Maintain electrical power, heating, ventilation, refrigeration, water, or sewerage systems.
  • Monitor and test operations of engines or other equipment so that malfunctions and their causes can be identified.
  • Clean engine parts and keep engine rooms clean.
  • Operate or maintain off-loading liquid pumps or valves.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
7,800
Annual Openings:
1,000
Increase in Openings by 2030:
8%
Annual Salary Range:
$43,440 - $131,570
Education Requirements:
Some college