A career as a marine engineering officer


"It is a wonderful job. You get to go to sea. The ocean is infinitely entrancing. There is a broad variety of challenges and surprises to keep the job interesting (some providing quite the adrenaline rush). There is a lot of job satisfaction and a great leave system."
– Mia Hicks, Chief Engineer, CCGS Ann Harvey

What is a marine engineering officer?

As a Marine Engineering Officer, your role is important for the safety of the vessel and the well-being of the crew. Keeping motors and machinery in good working order and quickly detecting problems is essential to making sure Coast Guard vessels remain operational and can execute their missions.

Under the direction of the Chief Engineering Officer, you are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the vessel’s propulsion machinery and auxiliary equipment. You must be able to quickly troubleshoot broken equipment and make needed repairs. You also directly supervise and coordinate the work of other engine room personnel.


The tasks and responsibilities of an marine engineering officer vary based on rank, from junior marine engineering officer to chief engineer.

Your responsibilities as an marine engineering officer may include:

  • maintaining various systems on board the ship, including electrical generation systems, pumps and fuel transfer systems, hydraulic and cooling systems, vapour circuits, water treatment systems, and compressed air circuits
  • using the latest automation and control technologies
  • making rounds to check for problems
  • quickly diagnosing equipment problems and executing the necessary repairs

A chief engineer's key responsibilities are:

  • ensuring that the machinery and systems of the vessel operate safely, reliably, and efficiently
  • ensuring personnel safety and environmental protection
  • supervising senior, second, and third engineers and oilers
  • overseeing the operation, maintenance, and repair of engine room machinery onboard

Is this career right for me?

These qualities and interests are essential for this career:

  • strong interest in science and technology
  • solid background in math and physics
  • interest in working at sea
  • good manual dexterity
  • ability to react quickly and cope with unfamiliar situations
  • ability to perform under pressure and understand rapid instructions
  • dependability
  • attention to detail
  • leadership and teamwork abilities
  • effective communication skills
  • taste for adventure and travel
  • ability to work irregular schedules

Career opportunities

You can move up in rank by accumulating sea time and passing Transport Canada exams. These are some of the positions available:

  • Marine Engineering Officer (several ranks)
  • Chief Engineer
  • fleet management
  • various positions within the federal public service
  • various marine-related positions

Training and education requirements

  • Attend the Canadian Coast Guard College four-year paid Officer Training Program. Once graduated, you are guaranteed employment.
  • Attend a Transport Canada recognized marine engineering program at another college.
  • Work on a ship in a crew position and work your way up, by gaining 36 months of sea time, doing ongoing training, and successfully completing Transport Canada exams.