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Ship's engineer

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Summary of occupation

Marine engineers are responsible for installing, operating, maintaining and repairing engines, machinery and other mechanical and electronic equipment aboard ships and offshore structures. They operate a ship's engine to control the speed of the vessel, according to orders from the ship's captain. Marine engineers also monitor and test the performance of the electrical and mechanical equipment of a vessel, including the heating, ventilation, refrigeration, water and sewerage systems, and repair faults where necessary. When they are ashore they may be responsible for ordering spare parts, fuel and lubricating oil.

ANZSCO description: no description available
Alternative names: Engineer Officer, Marine Engineer
Specialisations: Mechanical Engineering Officer (Navy), Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer (Navy)
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A marine engineer needs:

  • to be physically fit
  • to enjoy technical and engineering activities
  • good problem solving skills
  • adaptability
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • good hand-eye coordination
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Working conditions

Marine engineers often spend long periods at sea, where they work shifts which include working nights, weekends and public holidays. When they return to land, they generally spend a several weeks on shore leave. While at sea they work in all weather conditions, which can include stormy weather and rough seas. A ship's engine room is generally hot, noisy and dirty. Marine engineers are also often required to work at heights and in confined spaces.

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Salary details

On average, ship's engineers, classified under marine transport professionals, can expect to earn $2 299 per week ($119 543 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a ship's engineer develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Marine engineers use a wide range of hand and power tools, including spanners, sledgehammers, angle grinders, lathes, drills and hydraulic bolt-tensioning equipment. They may also operate cranes and other lifting equipment to move heavy machinery around the ship. UHF radios are frequently used to communicate with other crew members around the vessel. Marine Engineers must also wear safety equipment including earmuffs, overalls, safety glasses, steel-capped boots and high visibility clothing. In emergencies they may also need to use fire extinguishers and other safety equipment.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a ship’s engineer you need to complete an Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) approved Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Maritime Operations, along with the completion of at least 36 weeks of seagoing experience on an appropriately sized vessel. In Western Australia, training is offered by South Metropolitan TAFE.

Contact AMSA or South Metropolitan TAFE for further details.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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