a dark blue TraitLab logo
Sign up

Have an account? Sign in

Career profile Ship Engineer

Also known as Assistant Engineer, Barge Engineer, Chief Engineer, Engineer, Ferry Engineer, Harbor Engineer, Port Engineer, Towboat Engineer, Tug Boat Engineer, Tugboat Engineer

Ship Engineer

Also known as Assistant Engineer, Barge Engineer, Chief Engineer

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$43,440 - $131,570 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operation and Control
  • Critical Thinking
  • Operations Monitoring
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Administration and Management
  • Engineering and Technology
Core tasks
  • Start engines to propel ships, and regulate engines and power transmissions to control speeds of ships, according to directions from captains or bridge computers.
  • Maintain or repair engines, electric motors, pumps, winches, or other mechanical or electrical equipment, or assist other crew members with maintenance or repair duties.
  • Perform or participate in emergency drills, as required.
Is Ship Engineer the right career path for you?

Would Ship Engineer be a good fit for you?

Explore how your personality fits with Ship Engineer and hundreds of other career paths.

Create your free account

What does a Ship Engineer do?

Ship Engineers supervise and coordinate activities of crew engaged in operating and maintaining engines, boilers, deck machinery, and electrical, sanitary, and refrigeration equipment aboard ship.

What kind of tasks does a Ship Engineer perform regularly?

Ship Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Start engines to propel ships, and regulate engines and power transmissions to control speeds of ships, according to directions from captains or bridge computers.
  • Maintain or repair engines, electric motors, pumps, winches, or other mechanical or electrical equipment, or assist other crew members with maintenance or repair duties.
  • Perform or participate in emergency drills, as required.
  • Monitor engine, machinery, or equipment indicators when vessels are underway, and report abnormalities to appropriate shipboard staff.
  • Maintain complete records of engineering department activities, including machine operations.
  • Perform general marine vessel maintenance or repair work, such as repairing leaks, finishing interiors, refueling, or maintaining decks.
  • Maintain electrical power, heating, ventilation, refrigeration, water, or sewerage systems.
  • Monitor and test operations of engines or other equipment so that malfunctions and their causes can be identified.
  • Monitor the availability, use, or condition of lifesaving equipment or pollution preventatives to ensure that international regulations are followed.
  • Install engine controls, propeller shafts, or propellers.
  • Record orders for changes in ship speed or direction, and note gauge readings or test data, such as revolutions per minute or voltage output, in engineering logs or bellbooks.
  • Clean engine parts and keep engine rooms clean.
  • Operate or maintain off-loading liquid pumps or valves.
  • Supervise marine engine technicians engaged in the maintenance or repair of mechanical or electrical marine vessels, and inspect their work to ensure that it is performed properly.
  • Order and receive engine room stores, such as oil or spare parts, maintain inventories, and record usage of supplies.

The above responsibilities are specific to Ship Engineers. More generally, Ship Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is a Ship Engineer salary?

The median salary for a Ship Engineer is $75,990, and the average salary is $81,110. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Ship Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Ship Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Ship Engineers earn less than $43,440 per year, 25% earn less than $55,700, 75% earn less than $99,830, and 90% earn less than $131,570.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Ship Engineers is expected to change by 7.7%, and there should be roughly 1,000 open positions for Ship Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
$75,990
Typical salary range
$43,440 - $131,570
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
7.7%

What personality traits are common among Ship Engineers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Ship Engineer are usually higher in their Realistic, Conventional, and Enterprising interests.

Ship Engineers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Ship Engineers typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Lastly, Ship Engineers typically have strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Ship Engineer tend to value Independence, Support, and Relationships.

Most importantly, Ship Engineers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Ship Engineers strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Ship Engineers strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Ship Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, analytical thinking, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Ship Engineers, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Independence
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.

What education and training do Ship Engineers need?

Ship Engineers often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Ship Engineers usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Ship Engineers

  • 7.2% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 43.7% completed high school or secondary school
  • 24.7% completed some college coursework
  • 6.1% earned a Associate's degree
  • 14.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 3.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Ship Engineers

Ship Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, administration and management, or engineering and technology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Ship Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
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.
Transportation
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Important Abilities needed by Ship Engineers

Ship Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Ship Engineers need abilities such as problem sensitivity, control precision, and near vision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Ship Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Ship Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Ship Engineers frequently use skills like operation and control, critical thinking, and operations monitoring to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Ship Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Equipment Maintenance
Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
Troubleshooting
Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.