Hot Job How To: Ship Engineer

Chief Ship Enginner

Based on your feedback, we're launching weekly articles to provide more detailed information on securing some of best jobs out there for veterans, along with a list of four things you need to secure these jobs. This week's hot job: Ship Engineer.


Work on a seafaring vessel might seem adventurous if you've seen too much "Love Boat," but it requires considerably more elbow grease and perseverance. Ship Engineers specifically operate as on-call handymen who maintain and repair ship systems, start the engine and regulate the ship's speed per orders, maintain an inventory of mechanical supplies, and assess fuel requirements. You should only consider this profession if you don't mind exercising your sea-legs and giving a boat tender loving mechanical care.

The job differs depending on the size of the ship and the type of vessel. Working on a large cargo vessel might be stressful if you don't like working around stacks of shipping containers, but tweaking the air conditioning on a cruise ship can be equally tedious.


Your best educational course is to obtain a degree in marine engineering from a maritime college or academy. Engineering degrees are competitive, so you'll need to work hard and stand out. Fortunately most of these programs will have students working on ships at sea so you can start developing connections and experience before you graduate. Keep in mind that you'll need to pick a specialty and stick with it, so mull over your options before leaping into one or the other.

Marketable Skills

Unlike some professions, working on ships requires you to obtain at least two different credentials. The first is a Transportation Worker Identification Credential which serves as a vetting process before the U.S. government allows you to muck around on a hunk of floating metal. This usually requires drug tests, reference checks, and other security screening.

Afterwards, future seamen will need to obtain a Merchant Marine Credential. This credential requires significantly more time and effort to obtain, and there different avenues of approach. The amount of experience required to obtain the credential depends on the job you're trying to secure, and applicants usually have access to training. To move up in ranks, at least one year of experience is required for your current level.


Because the ladder to becoming a ship engineer is so heavily regulated, you are guaranteed to meet industry professionals along the way. While you should always seek out new connections to make, keep in mind that making an impression while you're still a student may lead to opportunities in the future. If you have to go through so many years of education and experience anyway, hard work won't go unnoticed.

Helpful Resources

If you're ready to dig into the job search, check out industrial production manager listings on

Where you can find information on obtianing your Transportation Worker Identification Card.

Be sure to dig into information about hte Merchant Mraine Credential -- there's a lot to cover!

Show Full Article