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Merchant Navy engineering officer

Alternative titles for this job include

Merchant Navy engineering officers maintain the mechanical and electrical machinery and instruments on board a ship.

Average salary (a year)

£27,000 Starter


£55,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

42 to 48 variable

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays away from home

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Merchant Navy engineering officer

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


You can enter the Merchant Navy as an engine room rating. You will do a Maritime Mechanical and Electrical Mechanic Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship.

This normally takes around 2 years to complete.

You'll find shipping companies that offer engine room rating apprenticeships from Careers at Sea.

You can apply for funding to take further training to qualify as an engineering officer after completing your apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More Information

Direct Application

You can apply to sponsoring shipping or engineering companies to train as an engineering officer.

You'll start on a marine engineering cadetship, which combines classroom study with training at sea. You would work towards a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in marine or mechanical engineering.

Your training will also include the Certificate of Competency, which you need to work at sea.

Your teaching and living costs will be funded through a bursary and while you're on placement at sea you'll get paid.

You'll normally need:

  • GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including English, maths, and a science, preferably physics
  • 2 or 3 A levels or equivalent qualifications, depending on the level of training you start on

If you've worked as a mechanical engineer elsewhere, for example in the fishing industry or the Royal Navy, you may be exempt from some of the training to become an engineer. You'll still need to find a company to sponsor you.

More Information

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a Merchant Navy engineering officer from Careers At Sea and Merchant Navy Training Board.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • problem-solving skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of maths
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • persistence and determination
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

  • pass a medical check

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a Merchant Navy engineering officer, you'll:

  • inspect and test electrical, mechanical and hydraulic equipment
  • read engineering diagrams to carry out maintenance
  • respond to equipment failure and repair faults
  • maintain fuel levels and stocks of spare parts
  • update record management systems

As you move up through the ranks to a senior engineering post, you'll also supervise a team of engineers.

Working environment

You could work on a ship.

Your working environment may be cramped, at height, outdoors in all weathers and you may spend nights away from home.

You may need to wear protective clothing and a uniform.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience and further training, you could work your way up to third then second engineer before taking on the role of chief engineer.

You could also work towards chartered engineer status through professional development with the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST).

You might join the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as an engineering officer.

If you decide to work onshore you could move into:

  • marine engineering design
  • naval architecture
  • ship and boatyard management
  • research

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

The Royal Navy - Weapon Engineering - Maritime Mechanical & Electrical Mechanic Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £20,400 a year Annually
  • Location: The Admiral Sir Henry Leach Building, Portsmouth, Hampshire

The Royal Navy - Comms Specialist (Submariner)-Maritime Mechanical & Electrical Mechanic Apprentice

  • Wage: £20,400 a year Annually
  • Location: The Admiral Sir Henry Leach Building, Portsmouth, Hampshire

Courses In England

Marine Engineering (Marine School)

  • Start date: 03 February 2025
  • Location: South Shields

Marine Engineering - Advanced Certificate

  • Start date: 28 April 2025
  • Location: Fleetwood

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