Salary Range
€30k - €60k
Job Zone

In Brief...

Works on the design, development, production, maintenance and repair of machinery and equipment used at sea and on board sea vessels such as ships.


  • Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Physics Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Knowledge areas are ranked by their importance to this career


  • Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Skills are ranked by their importance to this career

Work Environment

Marine Engineers typically work in the following Career Sectors:

Marine Science & Technology
Maritime, Fishing & Aquaculture
Shipping and Maritime Transport
Maritime, Fishing & Aquaculture

Videos & Interviews

Brendan Cavanagh, Ships Engineer

Brendan is currently a second engineer operating out of Killybegs in Donegal. He completed his Leaving Cert in Carndonagh Community School in 2001. He has studied several courses at the National Fisheries College and expects to complete his Class 1 Certificate next year.

Cathal Quigley, Marine Engineering Officer

Lieutant Cathal Quigley is a Marine Engineering Officer (MEO) leading a team of 15 people on board an Irish Navy Vessel. At sea, ships need to make their own fresh water and electricity and maintain all other services that a small town would require. It’s the MEO's job to provide these services, from treating waste water to maintaining the ships two engines. The marine engineer is also the ships fire officer, responsible for fighting fires onboard.

Videos on the Web

Most commonly reported Work Activities

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analysing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Organising, Planning, and Prioritising Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritise, organise, and accomplish your work.
  • Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Provide Consultation and Advice to Others Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Analysing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organisation Communicating with people outside the organisation, representing the organisation to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorising, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.



The Work

The Marine Engineer's principal concern is to carry out continuous maintenance and repairs to keep the main propulsion machinery operating safely and economically.  
The Marine Engineer's responsibilities also involve the maintenance of the ship's auxiliary machinery, including electricity generators, pumps, refrigerators, winches, and the ventilating system together with a range of other electronic and electrical equipment. At sea, the routine work in the engine room department is divided into watches.  
Merchant shipping legislation requires all Irish ships with a registered power in excess of 750kw to carry Engineer Officers with the appropriate certificate of competency.


Most commonly reported Work Tasks

  • Prepare, or direct the preparation of, product or system layouts and detailed drawings and schematics.
  • Inspect marine equipment and machinery to draw up work requests and job specifications.
  • Conduct analytical, environmental, operational, or performance studies to develop designs for products, such as marine engines, equipment, and structures.
  • Design and oversee testing, installation, and repair of marine apparatus and equipment.
  • Prepare plans, estimates, design and construction schedules, and contract specifications, including any special provisions.
  • Investigate and observe tests on machinery and equipment for compliance with standards.
  • Coordinate activities with regulatory bodies to ensure repairs and alterations are at minimum cost, consistent with safety.
  • Conduct environmental, operational, or performance tests on marine machinery and equipment.
  • Prepare technical reports for use by engineering, management, or sales personnel.
  • Maintain contact with, and formulate reports for, contractors and clients to ensure completion of work at minimum cost.

Further Information

Qualities - Marine Engineer

If you are someone who loves machinery, tinkering around and figuring out what makes things work, you might be just the kind of person who would take great satisfaction out of a career as a Marine Engineer. 

You will need a curious, analytical mind and a strong interest in how things work. You will need the ability to solve problems using the combination of a logical approach with creativity, imagination and an open mind.  
Marine engineering is a fast-changing area, so you must be willing to learn and develop new knowledge and keep up to date with advances in technology.  
You will need strong communication and interpersonal skills to work well in a team, especially if you serve at sea.  
You may be responsible for planning timetables and budgets, so you need good organisational, written and numerical skills. Computer skills to use a wide range of sophisticated information technology are helpful.  
You may supervise or train other engineers or engineering technicians, so you must have good leadership skills; you need to be able to encourage and motivate others. This job will also require normal colour vision.

Interests - Marine Engineer

This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:


Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.


The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.


Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalist's interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.

Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results and prefer action to talking and discussing.

Entry - Marine Engineer

NFQ Level 7 Marine Engineering is available at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) - see CR095

BIM also offer Marine Engineering courses - Level 5 Marine Engineering Processes; Compentency Engineer Officer (Fishing Vessel). Details available here.

It is possible to train as a Marine Engineering Cadet with the Irish Merchant Marine or the Navy.

Irish Engineer Cadets study for a B Eng. in Marine Engineering. This degree course, together with one further year spent at sea, constitutes the full programme for the Marine Engineers Cadet Training Scheme. Success in the Degree Examination merits consideration for exemption from certain parts of the Irish Department of the Marine’s Second Engineer Officer and Chief Engineer Officer Certificates of Competency The course aims to provide a sound knowledge of marine engineering and all aspects of maritime affairs. Additionally it provides a comprehensive engineering education as required by Marine Engineering Officers. Detailed information is available on the college website - See NMCI

Last Updated: July, 2015

Pay & Salary - Marine Engineer

Salary Range (thousands per year)* €30k - €60k

Entrants 30k - 35k Experienced up to 60k

Data Source(s):

Last Updated: March, 2017

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.

View Salary information from
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Labour Market Updates - Marine Engineer

Useful Contacts - Marine Engineer

Career Articles

Bridget Gavin - Marine Engineer
Bridget Gavin - Marine Engineer
Posted by Marine Institute