Marine Engineering

Marine Engineering: Routes into the Industry

Marine Engineering is wide-ranging, exciting and at the cutting edge of technology.  The challenges facing the sector including emissions, fuel diversification and communications are developing fast and you could be at the forefront of the technology.  Investment is being made in marine in the UK and as an island nation there is a shortage of need for nautical knowledge!

Want a career in marine engineering?  These are the routes we would suggest.

The Royal Navy

Joining the Royal Navy as an engineering technician is a great way to embark on your career in marine engineering, especially if you’re not planning the university route, as you don’t need any qualifications at all to join. Starting salary is around £18,000 and the military perks such as 6 weeks holiday, great pension contributions and numerous other benefits make it a sound choice. 

In the navy, you can also build your qualifications (to degree level) whilst working, so if you decide that the military life is not for you down the line you can move easily into a civilian marine engineering role.  Read more about joining the Royal Navy as an engineering technician.


Want to start earning a salary and continue to learn?  Apprenticeships have received increased government backing in the last few years and are becoming more and more of a logical step for vocational careers.  There are apprenticeships available in a very diverse range of sectors, from cruise ships to oil tankers, from sailing dinghies to superyachts.  You don’t need formal qualifications to enter Level 2 apprenticeship but you do need to show an aptitude to complete the programme.  On completion, a Level 2 is regarded as an equivalent to 5 GCSE passes. 

To get onto a Level 5 apprenticeship you generally need 3 A-levels and come out with a bachelor’s degree equivalent (Levels 5 & 6) or a masters (Level 7).  Apprenticeships certainly aren’t an easy route but unless you really want a university degree they seem an ideal choice.  Find out more about apprenticeships on the UCAS website.

The University Route into Marine Engineering

Marine Engineering courses at the top universities require competitive A-level grades.  Three As, including Maths and Physics, are normally required.  At the opposite ends of the country, both the University of Southampton and the University of Strathclyde have very well respected BEng programmes focussed on shipping and naval architecture.  More general engineering degrees often have options for marine-related modules and you certainly don’t need a specific ‘marine’ engineering degree to pursue a career in the field. 

Graduate schemes are generally on the decline but multinationals like BAE Systems and Global Marine still offer impressive programmes so it’s well worth checking out.  Engineering degrees tend to hold their value and the transferrable skills you will acquire should put you in a great position for entering the marine world.