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Chart a Course for a Career in Marine Technology

From the time Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World in 1492 to the present day, sea travel has been a critical part of the United States' history and economic development. The oceans provide the means for a cruise vacation, military and naval initiatives, and a thriving import and export business.

Technology now plays a critical role in sea travel and exploration, whether for pleasure, business or military purposes. Whereas young people fascinated by the sea once ran off to scrub decks, today the field of marine technology offers many employment options. Online marine technology schools are helping prepare students interested in becoming marine engineers or naval architects. After graduation, these professionals can help lead the way in new innovations for ship building and design and the creation of propulsion machinery to help explore the oceans and their contents.

Seasickness and other concerns about a career as a marine engineer or naval architect

Both marine engineers and naval architects design and supervise the construction of everything from aircraft carriers to submarines to sailboats to tankers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Once you have decided that a career as a marine engineer or naval architect is in your future, there are a few items to consider as you pursue a degree and begin investigating job opportunities.

  • You don't have to live near the coast to find job placement. Although it is true that many marine engineering and naval architecture responsibilities are found close to the water, many employers will provide travel to project locations.
  • Don't worry if you have a tendency to get seasick. Many marine technology career opportunities can be found on land including teaching, research and security.
  • The BLS expects marine engineers and naval architects to experience employment growth of six percent between 2008 and 2018. In 2008, 8,500 individuals were employed in the field. By factoring in the six percent growth estimate, this number is anticipated to increase to 9,000 by 2018. The median annual salary for individuals in the field was $74,140 in 2008, with the highest 10 percent of salaries equaling $118,630 annually and $43,070 per year being earned by those being compensated in the lowest 10 percent.

Online marine technology schools: It's a sea of opportunity, so dive in!

The BLS reports that the majority of entry-level engineering positions require a bachelor's degree. Pursuing your degree via marine technology classes online offers many benefits. The convenience and flexibility of building your own schedule and completing work at a pace you establish allows you to continue to meet the demands of work and/or family. Commuting students no longer have to be concerned with fitting travel time into their plans and finding a parking space on campus is no longer a worry as it is when attending traditional campus-based programs. As an online marine technology school student, you will also enjoy the benefits of expert instruction without the hassle of relocating to attend the school of your desire. On-campus projects may be required by some online marine technology schools, so it is important to consult with admissions staff prior to enrolling to be sure you can meet the program's requirements.

Once enrolled in an online marine technology program to earn a bachelor's degree, you can anticipate taking courses including:

  • Mechanics of marine technology
  • Ship dynamics
  • Control circuits
  • Electric machinery
  • Marine design
  • Technical writing
  • Differential equations
  • Thermodynamics

Making a splash after graduating from an online marine technology program

Following successful completion of an online marine technology program, you may be required to earn licensure. In fact, all 50 states and the District of Columbia require engineers who offer their services directly to the public to be licensed. Once licensed, you will be called a professional engineer or PE. Licensure can be obtained as follows:

  • Earning a degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET) accredited engineering program, having four years of relevant work experience and completing a state examination; or
  • If you are a recent graduate you can take the licensure exam in two parts. Following graduation you are eligible to sit for the initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. If you pass, you may be termed an engineer in training (EIT) or engineer intern (EI). After obtaining the appropriate amount of work experience, EITs can take the second exam called the Principles for Practicing Engineering exam.

Continuing education is also an option for graduates of online marine technology programs. Two common graduate degree options are the Master of Marine Engineering and a master of science degree in Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture. Graduate programs may take two years to complete.