Career Options (Engineering and Electro-Technical)

Demand is rapidly outstripping the availability of qualified engineering and electro-technical officers to manage the maintenance of modern vessels, which are powered by an increasingly sophisticated range of electrical, electronic and engineering equipment.


The engineering department is responsible for the safety, performance and efficiency of the vessel’s machinery. It is their job to maintain the mechanical and electrical operations, ensure robust maintenance schedules are implemented and troubleshoot problems efficiently.

Well-paid jobs for people with the right qualifications and capabilities are available now.

Skills and attributes

Technically adept and versatile with the ability to take on a variety of different roles, from the engine room to hotel services. A wide knowledge of vessel systems from the main engines to refrigeration units, generators and air conditioning units.

Engineering Officers

Marine engineer officers are responsible for the maintenance and operation of the ship’s main propulsion machinery and auxiliary plant, including deck machinery, air conditioning plants, refrigeration plants, and domestic and electrical services. Depending on the type of ship and operational circumstances, engineer officers will be required to keep watches in the ship’s engine room.

The Chief Engineer is in charge of the department and is responsible to the ship’s Master for its efficient operation. Whilst the law demands that only one person can be in overall command of the ship and by tradition that person is the Master, the Chief Engineer’s status and salary is very similar to that enjoyed by the Master.

Marine Electro-Technical Officers (METOs)

These specialist officers work within the engineering department where they take particular responsibility for the maintenance of on board control engineering and electronic systems including propulsion control, radio communications and electronic navigation aids.

Marine electro-technical officers (METOs) should have the opportunity to develop their careers along a professional electrical engineering path, perhaps leading to the rank of Chief Electro-Technical Officer, Chief Technical Officer or Electrical Superintendent (company dependent).

Chief Engineer

The Chief Engineer is in charge of the engineering department and responsible to the Master for its efficient operation. They have overall control and decision making powers for the engineering department, and responsibility for ensuring that all planned mechanical and electrical maintenance takes place. The chief engineer also co-ordinates operations with shoreside engineers.

Second Engineer

The Second engineer has engineering watch-keeping responsibilities and oversees the training of more junior engineers. They are directly responsible to the Chief Engineer and have responsibility for the management of the engine room and the engine room maintenance team.

Third Engineer

The third engineer has engineering watch-keeping responsibilities and is responsible for the maintenance of certain engine room equipment (e.g. auxiliary generators). Also looks after the electrics if there isn’t an electrician or a marine electro-technical officer on board.

Junior Engineer/Fourth Engineer

Used as a familiarisation role for newly-qualified officers in some companies, a junior/fourth engineer officers supports the third engineer officer and is responsible for the fuelling and maintenance of specific engine room equipment (e.g. purifiers). Engineering watch-keeping responsibilities will be undertaken at times, alternatively undertaking general maintenance duties on a day work routine.

Engine Rating

Engine ratings are support members of the engineering department who assist with maintenance of the engine room machinery plant. This is a hands-on role which includes mechanical maintenance, engineering operations and general duties.

Marine Electro-Technical Officer (METO)

This is a specialist role supporting the electrical and electronic systems found on board modern merchant ships and superyachts, from bridge navigation equipment and engineering propulsion systems to communications and audio visual kit, including the latest in entertainment play-out, IT systems and gadgets.

Our Career Progression Charts are designed to give you a clear guide to the best route and courses required to further your career.

For further information, please select the appropriate link below:

The Merchant Navy

The Superyacht Industry

The Offshore Oil & Gas Industry

The Renewables Industry

The Ports Industry