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So you wanna be an Engine Officer

by on November 12, 2020 | Top Stories, Career Guide

So you wanna be an Engine Officer -

Do you enjoy working with your hands and don’t mind getting them dirty on board a ship? Are you good at problem-solving, especially when it comes to dismantling, repairing and reassembling equipment? Are you looking for a career with good long-term prospects and a good pay?

The job of an Engine Officer

Engine Officers or Engineering Officers assist the Chief Engineer in maintaining and operating all mechanical and electrical equipment on board. This includes control of the ship’s engines, pumps and fuel systems, cargo handling equipment, lifts, computer-controlled engine management systems, refrigeration and ventilation systems, and sewage treatment and purifiers.

Among the responsibilities of Engine Officers are to:

  • operate and maintain the mechanical and electrical equipment on board
  • plan and arrange all technical maintenance and repairs needed on the vessels
  • manage power generation and distribution systems, as well as refrigeration plant, ventilation and pumping systems
  • monitor, repair and upgrade systems and equipment, e.g. air compressors, pumps and sewage plants
  • implement regular equipment inspections and maintenance programmes
  • ensure compliance of vessels with regulations and standards
  • keep up to date with developments in the marine engineering field

Is this job for you?

A career at sea is not for the shy, intimidated and fearful. An Engine Officer needs to possess courage and boldness as the job requires stepping out of your comfort zone. This is a difficult yet challenging occupation due to the complexity of the tasks and the need to make quick decisions during sea operation when replacement parts, new equipment and technical service may become scarce or unavailable.

As an Engine Officer, you will work with varying cultures and must be willing and able to adapt to connect and work effectively. The ability to thrive under pressure is important.

A collaborative spirit is vital in order to work effectively on board a ship that consists of co-workers with various responsibilities and ranks. As such, to be an Engine Officer you need to be a good team player and be able to think on your feet especially when responding to emergency situations such as leaks, fires and other dramatic events on board.

You must have good eyesight and be physically fit, as you will have to pass a medical before you can start training.

The interest code for this career is RCE (Realistic, Conventional and Enterprising).

Realistic — 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.

Conventional — 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.

Enterprising — 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.

Work Styles

To be successful in the role of an Engine Officer, you need:

  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be good at diagnosing faults in equipment
  • to have a knack for maintaining and adjusting equipment, and dismantling, repairing and reassembling equipment
  • to be very detail oriented and have excellent problem-solving abilities
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be able to coordinate and supervise quick and effective repair and maintenance processes by guiding and motivating the technical crew
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • have physical endurance and be emotionally stable
  • to be good at mediating conflicts between technical crew members

Work Values

Engine Officers enjoy being able to work on their own and make decisions. They value a supportive management that stands behind employees. Being able to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment are important to Engine Officers.

Work Environment

For Engine Officers, most of the working day is spent in the engine control room; however, they are also required to work in the engine room of the ship which may be noisy, hot and claustrophobic. Due to such close living and working conditions, everyone needs to work well within a team.

Weather conditions also have a great impact on this job. Ships usually travel all around the world and may be subject to different climates. Engine Officers need to be prepared to face the expected weather in each part of the world.

Working on a ship or vessel means long periods of time spent away at sea. Most on-board living conditions are equipped with good leisure and other facilities.

Places of Employment

Engine Officers can be hired by private companies such as cruise lines, water transportation companies, or even the Federal Government to work as part of the Coast Guard. They work in water transport vessels such as cruises, riverboats, merchant ships, oil, gas and chemical tankers, or any type of self-propelled water vehicle that transports passengers or cargo across oceans, coasts, or inland waters.

You can explore both onshore and offshore positions with shipping companies, port authorities, maritime insurance companies and shipping brokers.

Often, the maritime facility you’re training with will arrange for your job placement after you’ve completed the training.

Tired of being at sea? There are many opportunities for engine officers on shore that include:

  • Ship management and fleet operations
  • Surveying ships to check seaworthiness, for repair and maintenance purposes, to check cargo details
  • Ports and harbour work
  • Training the seafarers of the future
  • Ship repair, marine equipment production
  • Marine insurance, ship classification, maritime law and arbitration
Source: The Maritime Industry Knowledge Centre

Education and Training Qualifications:

In Malaysia, those interested in a career as a Engine Officer can enrol at a maritime training facility. Akademi Laut Malaysia (ALAM) offers a Diploma in Marine Engineering.

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