Marine engineer

subsea engineer

Career outlook for marine engineer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would design, build and repair ships, boats and offshore oil and gas platforms. You’d make sure their systems and machinery work effectively and safely.

You would design, build, test and repair:

  • Boats
  • Ships
  • Underwater craft
  • Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs)
  • Offshore platforms
  • Drilling equipment

You’d use your technical knowledge of naval construction, and mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering systems to work on systems and equipment in different marine industries.

If you worked in shipbuilding, boat-building and repair, you’d work to design, develop, construct and maintain ships, boats and machinery.

The UK has a strong leisure boat industry: in this field you’d help to manufacture, maintain or repair a range of craft from canal barges to super yachts.

In the offshore oil and gas industry you would design, build and operate offshore platforms, rigs, pipelines and equipment.

For marine surveying, you’d examine ships and offshore installations and look at their seaworthiness, safety and maintenance needs.

You could join either the Merchant Navy or the Royal Navy. You’d make sure engines, instruments and systems work safely and efficiently. In the Royal Navy you could specialise in surface shipping, submarines or weapons systems.

You would normally be responsible for a team of marine technicians and craftspeople. You’d need to follow health and safely procedures. You need computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) skills and have to keep up to date with new developments in your field.

Working conditions


You would be expected to work flexible hours, which may include shift work and weekends.


If you work in ship design or construction, your job would be shore based. Outdoor work could sometimes be physically demanding.


You could also be away from home for long periods, working on ships, submarines or offshore installations.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Adaptability
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Evaluating
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You would need:

  • a Marine Engineering Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7)
  • or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8)
  • or a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (SCQF level 9/10)
  • or an Engineering degree and Marine Engineering postgraduate qualification (SCQF level 11). 

You can enter a Marine Engineering Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) with National 4/5 qualifications and one Higher or a NC in Maritime Operations.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of 4 Highers at AAAB or above, or a relevant HNC/HND. To enter a Postgraduate course (SCQF level 11) you will usually require an Honours Degree in a relevant subject.

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by many courses and employers)
  • Science subjects, in particular physics (required by many courses and employers)
  • English
  • Technologies subjects such as engineering science

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show understanding of the navy, engineering, structural design and building such as Skills for Work Engineering Skills (SCFQ level 4) could be useful when applying to courses.

Alternatively you can gain qualifications while you work as a trainee engineer with the Merchant Navy or the Royal Navy.