Ship engineers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Ship engineers operate and maintain a vessels propulsion system, which includes the engine, boilers, generators, pumps, and other machinery. Large vessels usually carry a chief engineer, who has command of the engine room and its crew, and a first, second, and third assistant engineer. The assistant engineer oversees the engine and related machinery when the chief engineer is off duty. Small ships might have only one engineer. Engineers typically do the following:

  • Maintain a ships mechanical and electrical equipment and systems
  • Start the engine and regulate the vessels speed, following the captains orders
  • Record information in an engineering log
  • Keep an inventory of mechanical parts and supplies
  • Do routine maintenance checks throughout the day
  • Calculate refueling requirements
Education Required
Sailors and marine oilers usually do not need formal education. Other types of water transportation workers often complete U.S. Coast Guard-approved training programs to help them obtain their required credentials.
Training Required
Ordinary seamen, wipers, and other entry-level mariners get on-the-job training for 6 months to a year. The length of training depends on the size and type of ship and waterway they work on. For example, workers on deep-sea vessels need more complex training than those whose ships travel on a river.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 8% (As fast as average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
After obtaining their MMC, crewmembers can apply for endorsements that may allow them to move into more advanced positions.
All mariners working on ships with U.S. flags must have a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) from the Transportation Security Administration. This credential states that a person is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and has passed a security screening. The TWIC must be renewed every 5 years.
Median pay: How much do Water Transportation Workers make?
$54,870 Annual Salary
$26.38 per hour

Careers for Water Transportation Workers

  • Able seamen
  • Barge captains
  • Barge engineers
  • Barge masters
  • Boat pilots
  • Boatswain
  • Captains
  • Car ferry captains
  • Car ferry masters
  • Chief engineers, marine
  • Coastal tug mates
  • Cruise ship workers
  • Deck cadets
  • Deck hands
  • Deck officers
  • Docking pilots
  • Ferry captains
  • Ferry engineers
  • First mates
  • Harbor boat pilots
  • Harbor pilots
  • Harbor tug captains
  • Launch operators
  • Marine oilers
  • Mates
  • Merchant mariners
  • Merchant seamen
  • Motorboat operators
  • Ordinary seamen
  • Outboard motorboat operators
  • Pilots
  • Port captains
  • Pumpmen
  • QMEDs
  • Qualified members of the engine department
  • River boat captains
  • River pilots
  • Sailboat captains
  • Sailors
  • Ship officers
  • Speedboat drivers
  • Speedboat operators
  • Towboat captains
  • Towboat engineers
  • Tugboat captains
  • Tugboat engineers
  • Tugboat mates
  • Tugboat operators
  • Tugboat pilots
  • Water taxi operators
  • Wipers

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