A marine engineer designs the propulsion, auxiliary power machinery and other equipment necessary to keep the ship running. Private firms that build ships or make ship equipment employ most marine engineers. Some engineers may do consulting work at these firms, while some are civilians employed by the U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea System Command. Marine engineers may focus on certain kinds of equipment such as engines, pumps, heaters, gears or deck machinery. Others concentrate on certain steps in shipbuilding, such as estimating the cost of the equipment needed. Marine engineers may also be inspectors that make sure equipment works properly before the ship launches.
Naval architects work with equipment engineers and shipbuilders to confirm that a ship’s overall system is sound and it functions efficiently. They design the hull according to buyer or client needs. They ensure that the ship’s structural design can maintain the people who will occupy it, the speed and the stress it must withstand and many other factors. Many naval architects work for private shipbuilding companies, while some are employed by research or design firms. Others might be self-employed consultants. Many are employed by the U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea System Command, the U.S. Coast Guard or other branches of government.
- Marine engineers can be responsible for installing equipment in ships, or supervise the crews that install electrical equipment.
- Among other responsibilities, naval architects design the hull according to the needs of the buyer or client.
- A bachelor’s degree is required to enter these fields.
Work Environment for Marine Engineers and Naval Architects
Many marine engineers and naval architects work on ships. Some work in offices or at plants. Typically, marine engineers and naval architects work a 40-hour week, but deadlines or emergencies might require longer hours.
Education, Training and Licensing
A bachelor’s degree in architecture or engineering is required to enter the naval architecture or marine engineering fields. Few schools offer degree programs or courses in naval architecture, so students might be better served to major in marine engineering, ocean engineering or mechanical engineering. Undergraduate programs should include the basic courses, including materials testing, hydraulics, electrical theory and practice, and mathematics.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
Marine engineers and Naval Architects held 5,270 jobs in May 2009, according to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
BLS reports indicate that the median annual wage for both salaried marine engineers and naval architects was $74,330 in May 2009. The middle 50% earned between $55,990 and $97,800. While the lowest 10% had an annual income at or below $41,070, the top 10% earned upwards of $121,960 per year.