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Marine Engineer

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What They Do

Marine Engineers operate and monitor the operation of a ship’s mechanical equipment. They inspect, test, maintain, repair, modify and install equipment associated with the onboard mechanical systems.

The Marine Engineer occupation forms part of a ship’s Marine Systems Engineering department. Specifically, Marine Engineers monitor, operate and maintain the following equipment:

  • Main and auxiliary high and low-pressure boilers
  • Diesel and gas turbine propulsion engines
  • Ancillary systems including: fuel, lubricating oil, main gearing, shafting
  • Auxiliary systems including: hot and cold fresh water, high and low pressure air, steam
  • Hydraulic, mechanical and electrical control systems used in monitors, alarms and other marine equipment
  • Refrigeration and air conditioning equipment
  • Reverse osmosis declinators and evaporators
  • Ship’s steering equipment
  • Filling and transfer systems for water, fuels and lubricants
  • Read and interpret engineering sketches and drawings, including electrical, mechanical and hydraulic, pneumatic and fluid drawings
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Working Environment

Marine Engineers spend much of their career on board ships with “home ports” in either Halifax, Nova Scotia or Esquimalt, British Columbia. They experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with work at sea, such as working in small spaces, on open deck surfaces and a rotating shift or watch system. Marine Engineers spend time working outside their occupation performing general duties such as cleaning, painting, working in the cafeteria, standing sentry duty or loading supplies.

The majority of the ship’s maintenance is done ashore where a Marine Engineer normally works a regular day shift and will gain much of their training through hands-on experience and with day-to-day guidance by senior staff.

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Career Development

The starting salary for fully-trained Marine Engineers is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher.

Marine Engineers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression and advancement. At various stages throughout their career, Marine Engineers must obtain Marine Engineering operating certificates, which reflect and assure a competent level of watch-keeping and technical ability.

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Related Civilian Occupations

  • Construction Millwright and Industrial Mechanic
  • Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanic
  • Equipment Mechanic
  • Stationary Engineer and Auxiliary Equipment Operator
  • Hydro Power Station Operator
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Basic Military Qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Forces physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

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Naval Environmental Training

Naval recruits attend the Canadian Forces Fleet School either in Esquimalt, British Columbia or Halifax, Nova Scotia for approximately five weeks. Training includes the following topics:

  • Naval history and organization
  • Shipboard firefighting and damage control
  • Shipboard Safety
  • Watchkeeping duties
  • Seamanship
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Basic Occupational Qualification Training

Marine Engineers attend the Canadian Forces Fleet School in Esquimalt, British Columbia. Training takes approximately 13 weeks and includes the following topics:

  • Common engineering practices and publications
  • Liquid contamination detection
  • Safe working attitudes and practices
  • Machinery lubrication
  • Use of hand tools
  • Maintenance of valves and gaskets
  • Systems familiarization


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Specialty Training

Marine Engineers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Gas Turbine Heavy Maintenance
  • Heavy Diesel Maintenance
  • Diesel Inspector
  • Non-Destructive Testing Techniques
  • Engineering Officer of the Watch Certification
  • Chief Engineering Certification

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Required Education

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec. You must also have successfully completed Grade 10 Applied or Academic math or, in Quebec, Math 436 or Math 426. Foreign education may be accepted.

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Direct Entry

If you already have a college diploma, the Forces will decide if your academic program matches the training criteria for this job and may place you directly into the any required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military occupation training is required before being assigned.

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Paid Education

Non-commissioned Member Subsidized Training and Education Plan (NCM-STEP)

Because this position requires specialty training, the Forces will pay successful recruits to attend the diploma program at an approved Canadian college. NCM STEP students attend basic training and on-the-job training during the summer months. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full-pay in exchange for working with the Forces for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the Forces and the appropriate college.  For more information, click on Paid College.