Have you ever dreamt of sailing on board of a ship to distant ports across the oceans? Have you ever dreamt of living a life on-board of a cruise ship? Are you a technical type who loves Science and Mathematics but rather than pursuing a conventional Engineering degree, could settle for a life extraordinary? If yes, then you may think of a career in Marine Engineering.

Ships, perhaps are one of the most ancient modes of transport, have a charm for many that is unmatched even by the fastest aircraft of today. Modern-day ships are like mini-cities with resident quarters, kitchens, cafés, recreational facilities, and so on.

Especially luxury cruise ships. These have everything that you can imagine. From swimming pools to tennis courts and from fine dining restaurants to casinos, these cruise ships have it all. Oh yes, you would feel like you are living in a 5-star hotel.

Who manages the operations of these floating mini cities? Deck Officers and Marine Engineers. Deck Officers lead the navigation of the ships and all other non-technical processes and services. At the top of the ladder is the Captain who is the head of all departments on board.

Marine Engineers take care of the smooth running of the engines as well as all the mechanical, electrical, and electronic equipment, machinery, systems and processes. At the top of the Marine Engineering function is the Chief Engineer who reports to the ship Captain.

What is Marine Engineering?


Marine Engineering involves working on-board of large marine vessels such as cargo carriers, passenger carriers (ships are often referred to as carriers), cruise liners (luxury passenger ships), oil and CNG tankers, as well as military ships such as aircraft carriers, frigates, and submarines).

Onboard of a ship, Marine Engineers are responsible for making sure that all the mechanical, electrical and electronic equipment, machinery, and systems of the ship work smoothly without any fault or problem. They are responsible for operations, repair, and maintenance of all these equipment, machinery, and systems.

Mechanical equipment, machinery, and systems include:

  • The diesel engines, turbines, and various engine components which power a ship to navigate
  • Propulsion systems which are critical for a ship to navigate through water
  • Navigation systems to control a ship’s navigation
  • Various pumps, hydraulic machines, and pipelines for different functions
  • Boilers for various functions

Electrical equipment, machinery, and systems include:

  • Electrical power plant which generates the electricity required on board of a ship
  • All systems for electricity transmission and distribution including transformers, electrical hubs, wiring, switching systems, etc.
  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems
  • Lighting systems

Electronic equipment, devices, and systems include:

  • Various electronic control panels, hardware, and software for operating and piloting a ship
  • Communication systems, all hardware, and software
  • Various other electronic systems used for different purposes on board

Onshore Work in Marine Engineering

You may also find work opportunities onshore after a few years of experience as an onboard Marine Engineer. You may find work at different dockyards or shipyards where ships are built and repaired. However, these opportunities are very few.

In onshore work, you will be involved in design, development, construction, installation, repair, and maintenance of the various mechanical, electrical and electronic equipment and systems of marine vessels. You will oversee the installation and inspection of the various mechanical, electrical, and electronic equipment and systems.

How’s Life as a Marine Engineer?

As a Marine Engineer you will work on-board of a large marine vessel such as a cargo carrier, passenger carriers, oil tanker, CNG tanker, and luxury cruise liner.

When on duty, you will sail with a ship and work in shifts to ensure that all the mechanical, electrical and electronic systems of the ship work smoothly.

You will often have to do things hands-on and spend time in the engine compartment which is hot and stuffy. As Junior Engineers, at the beginning of your career, such hands-on work will be more. You will have technicians to do most of the dirty works, but you will have to be hands-on too.

You will stay in living quarters on board. Living quarters are very comfortable and most important is that you will have an Internet connection! Sounds great, right? Most modern ships have communication systems which allows you to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world.

Although you will have to work in shifts of 8-12 hours, you will often have to be on guard for the most part of your day. There are a lot of facilities for the Marine Engineers and other officers onboard such as the dining room, gymnasium, recreation room, indoor games room etc.

Marine Engineer – Salaries

  • Well, all these hard work and life on-board, sailing for many months, doing the same work every day do have the rewards. You make a lot of money. On joining as a Junior Engineer – approx. Rs. 35,000 per month.
  • As a Fourth Engineer (Marine Engineering Officer IV) – Rs. 1.5 to 2 lac a month. As a Second Engineer (Marine Engineering Officer II) – Rs. 2.75 to 3.5 lac or even more a month.
  • As the Chief Engineer (Marine Engineering Officer Class I)– Rs. 3.5 lac to 5 lac or even more a month. Foreign carriers pay in US Dollars and their pay is higher than Indian carriers’ pay.

And well, all your boarding and lodging expenses on-board of a ship are taken care of by the shipping company. You spend almost nothing on-board unless you are sailing on a luxury cruise and you are spending for spa treatment. The Internet is also free for you!

How do you build a career in Marine Engineering and how do you progress in the job?

Education & Training for Marine Engineers – After Class 12th

Education & Training Pathways for Marine Engineering after 12th
Figure 1: Education & Training Pathways for Marine Engineering after 12th

Step 01: Class 11-12

Study Class 11-12 in Science Stream with Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and English – you will require at least 60% marks in aggregate in your final board examination and at least 50% marks in English.

Step 02: Graduation in Engineering OR Higher National Diploma in Marine Engineering

Option i) B.Tech. in Marine Engineering

  • Appear for the Indian Maritime University Common Entrance Test (IMU CET) and on qualifying, take admission to the 4-year B.Tech. in the Marine Engineering program at the Chennai/ Kolkata/ Mumbai campus of the University or at a Marine Engineering College affiliated with IMU.

Option ii) B.E./ B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering / Naval Architecture / Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering

  • Appear for the JEE Mains examination or any other engineering entrance examination, qualify, and then take admission to a 4-year B.E./B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering / Naval Architecture/ Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering.
  • Remember, for admission to IITs and a few other premier engineering institutions in India, you will have to qualify in the JEE Mains and be selected for appearing in the JEE Advanced examination.
  • You can do B.Tech. in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering from the Visakhapatnam campus of the Indian Maritime University after qualifying in the IMU CET.

Option iii) Higher National Diploma in Marine Engineering

Step 03: Pre-Sea Training

Option i) If you have done a B.Tech. in Marine Engineering, then you will not have to do this training. The 4-year course is considered as Pre-Sea Training.

Option ii) If you have done a B.E./ B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering / Naval Architecture / Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering

  • If you have successfully completed a 4-year B.E./B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering / Naval Architecture / Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering and obtained at least 50% marks in aggregate in the final examination, then you will have to undergo a compulsory 1-year Pre-Sea Training Course for the Graduate Mechanical Engineer (GME).
  • Remember that to be eligible for the 1-year Pre-Sea Training Course for Graduate Mechanical Engineer (GME), you must have scored at least 50% marks English in Class 11-12 final board examination.
  • You must do this 1-year Pre-Sea GME training course at an institution approved by the Directorate General of Shipping, Government of India.

Option iii) If you have done a Higher National Diploma in Marine Engineering, then you will not have to do this training. The 2-year course is considered as Pre-Sea Training.

Education & Training for Marine Engineers – After Class 10th

Education & Training Pathways for Marine Engineering after 10th
Figure 2: Education & Training Pathways for Marine Engineering after 10th

Step 01: Class 10

Pass your Class 10 Board Examination with Science, Mathematics, and English (along with other subjects). You must have passed English with at least 50% marks.

Step 02: Diploma

Diploma in Marine Engineering / Naval Architecture / Mechanical Engineering / Electrical Engineering / Electronics Engineering / Electrical & Electronics Engineering / Electronics & Communication Engineering / Ship Building Engineering

Appear for the Polytechnic Entrance Examination in your State and on qualifying, take admission to a 3-year Diploma in Marine/ Mechanical/ Electrical/ Electronics/ Electrical & Electronics / Electronics & Communication Engineering or to a 4-year Diploma in Ship Building Engineering at a Polytechnic.

Step 03: Pre-Sea Training

  • If you have successfully completed a 3-year Diploma in Marine/ Mechanical/ Electrical/ Electronics/ Electrical & Electronics / Electronics & Communication Engineering or a 4-year Diploma in Ship Building Engineering and obtained at least 50% marks in aggregate in the final examination, then you will have to undergo a compulsory 2-year Pre-Sea Training Course for the Diploma holders.
  • You must do this 2-year Pre-Sea training course at an institution approved by the Directorate General of Shipping, Government of India.

Career Progression for Marine Engineers

 Career Path of Marine Engineers
Figure 3: Career Path of Marine Engineers

Step 01: Joining as a Junior Engineer or an Engineering Cadet on board of a ship (sometimes designated as a Fifth Engineer)

After the completion of your Pre-Sea Training program, you will be able to join on board a ship for a further 6-months on-board training.

After completion of this onboard training, you will be eligible to sit for the MEO Class IV Examination conducted by the Mercantile Marine Department (MMD). For details of the eligibility, you can look at the information available on the MMD website.


Step 02: Work as a Fourth Engineer


After passing the MEO Class IV Examination (MEO stands for Marine Engineering Officer), you can join on-board of a ship as a Fourth Engineer. You may work for 1 year or more in this position and also prepare for the next level of examination. 1 year of on-board experience is essential for the next promotion.

Step 03: Work as a Second Engineer


After at least 1 year of on-board experience as a Fourth Engineer, you will be eligible to sit for the MEO Class II Examination conducted by MMD. On passing this examination as well as after completion of various mandatory training courses, you can join on-board of a ship as a Second Engineer.


Some marine vessels which navigate in the coastal region require passing the MEO Class III Examination conducted by the MMD. But for this too, one has to have at least 1-year of experience as a Second Engineer.

Step 04: Work as a Chief Engineer


After at least 1 and 1/2 years of on-board experience as a Second Engineer, you will be eligible to sit for the MEO Class I Examination conducted by MMD. After passing this examination and a few more years of experience as well as completing various other mandatory training programs, you can join on-board of a ship as the Chief Engineer.

Step 05: Further progression

  • After becoming a Chief Engineer, you may undergo various competency training programs approved by the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS). You may obtain various certificates after completion of such training programs. Then, you can apply for the certification as the Extra First Class Engineer.
  • Remember that you will have to continuously undertake various competency training programs approved by the DGS. Continuous training and certification are mandatory to keep your job on-board of a ship.

Top Marine Engineering Colleges in India

  1. Indian Maritime University, Kolkata
  2. Indian Maritime University, Chennai
  3. Indian Maritime University, Mumbai Port
  4. Indian Maritime University, Visakhapatnam
  5. Tolani Maritime Institute, Pune
  6. Coimbatore Marine College
  7. Hindustan Institute of Maritime Training, Chennai
  8. International Maritime Institute, Delhi
  9. Samudra Institute for Maritime Studies, Mumbai
  10. Euro Tech Maritime Academy, Cochin
  11. School of Maritime Studies, Vels Institute of Science, Technology, and Advanced Studies, Chennai
  12. BP Marine Academy, Navi Mumbai

B.Tech. in Marine Engineering Syllabus

Semester ISemester II
EnglishSeamanship, Elementary Navigation &
Survival at Sea
Mathematics – IMathematics – II
Basic ThermodynamicsApplied Thermodynamics – I
Basic Electrical & Electronics EngineeringStrength of Materials – I
Engineering Mechanics – IComputer Science
Workshop TechnologyEngineering Mechanics – II
Geometrical DrawingEngineering & Machine Drawing
Basic Electrical & Electronics LaboratoryApplied Mechanics Laboratory
Workshop Practical – IWorkshop practical’s – II
Communicative English LabComputer Laboratory – I
Semester IIISemester IV
Computational MathematicsMarine Boilers
Analog Electronics & CommunicationDigital Electronics & PLC
Applied Thermodynamics – IIMechanics of Machines – II
Strength of Materials – IIElectrical Machines – II
Mechanics of Machines – IFluids Mechanics
Electrical Machines – IMarine Heat Engine & Air Conditioning
Marine Engineering DrawingApplied Marine Control & Automation
Electronics LaboratoryHeat & Boiler Chemical Laboratory
Heat & Chemical LaboratoryComputer Microprocessor & PLC Laboratory
Workshop practical – IIIWorkshop practical’s —IV
Control Engineering Laboratory
Semester VSemester VI
Material ScienceShip Fire Prevention & Control
Ship Structure & ConstructionMarine Internal Combustion Engine II
Marine Internal Combustion Engine – IMarine Electrical Technology
Fluid MechanicsMarine Auxiliary Machines – II
Marine Auxiliary Machines – INaval Architecture – II
Naval Architecture – IManagement Science & Economics
Elementary Design & DrawingMarine Steam Engineering
Material Science LaboratoryFire Control & Life Saving Appliances Laboratory
Vibration Laboratory & Fluid Mechanics LaboratoryMarine Power Plant Operation —II
Marine Power Plant Operation – IElectrical Machines Laboratory
Semester VIISemester VIII
Ship Operation & ManagementON BOARD TRAINING & ASSESSMENT
Advanced Marine Control Engineering & AutomationVoyage / Training Report
IMO – Maritime Conventions & Classification SocietyProject on Environment & its Project
Advanced Marine TechnologyViva – Voce
Engine Room Management
Elective
Marine Machinery & System Design
Simulator & Simulation Laboratory
Technical Paper & Project

In Conclusion

A career as a Marine Engineer is a dream career for many. It’s difficult to get into this career as it is highly competitive. Salaries are excellent. You could be earning 5 lacs plus a month before you turn 30 or may be 35. If you are wise, you will be able to save loads of money – crores to be precise if you work for about 15 years on-board.

But life on-board is tough. All the glamour and glitz are for the cruise ships. You might get work opportunities on oil tankers which pay you higher but then there’s nothing much to enjoy life. It’s pretty boring actually. Work is monotonous. You do the same thing day after day.

Sailing on the sea for a long time has a psychological impact too. Staying away from your family for months does have its toll on your mind.

So, it is extremely important to understand whether you are fit for such a career. Does your personality suit the rigours of the job of a Marine Engineer? Do you have the aptitudes to study Marine Engineering?

To get appropriate answers to the questions, it is crucially important to take the help of professional counsellors. Do you know about yourself? Are you sure? Maybe, but taking unbiased career counseling can open up a lot of information about your own self. That will help you to decide whether Marine Engineering is for you or not. You can also avail our counselling services online.

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