How do I Become an Ocean Engineer?

Jessica F. Black

In order to become an ocean engineer, students must focus on various areas of study which may include marine biology, oceanography, civil engineering, and marine geology. High school students who are interested in ocean related sciences should excel in mathematics, biology, and other advanced sciences that may be offered at his or her school. The education needed to become an ocean engineer is extremely specific, and students should do research to find a university that has an extensive ocean engineering program. This field differs from most engineering careers because it requires an enhanced knowledge of oceanographic topics.

An ocean engineer may test the composition and temperature of various oceans.
An ocean engineer may test the composition and temperature of various oceans.

Ocean engineering programs are not offered at all universities, and researching colleges on the Internet is the best way to find a school with the necessary accredited program. Aside from general coursework and necessary prerequisites, students should enroll in courses such as underwater acoustics, coastal engineering, ocean systems management, and hydrodynamics. Although the minimal degree requirement to become an ocean engineer is usually a bachelor's of science (B.S.) degree in ocean engineering, most students continue his or her education in order to achieve a master's degree. The benefits of a higher degree usually include salary increase, wider variety of employment options, and less training.

Future ocean engineers must study marine geology, among other subjects.
Future ocean engineers must study marine geology, among other subjects.

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Most universities that offer this program also supply listings for internships in ocean engineering. Some internships allow students to work with a team of oceanographers and engineers, which gives him or her a chance to observe daily activities, assist in testing instruments, learn how to write technical reports, and document testing results. Many of these internships are offered for extended periods of time due to the possibility of the crew being out at sea for months at a time. There are other opportunities that involve office and laboratory work for students who plan to work on land. Students should plan to spend extensive time in the field with other professionals to gain the necessary experience to become an ocean engineer.

Communication skills, leadership, and the ability to work as a team are social traits generally needed to become an ocean engineer. This is a broad field, and potential applicants should research various job details throughout his or her educational career to determine which position best suits his or her expertise. The general work of an ocean engineer is creating, building, repairing, or improving equipment used in or on all bodies of water, which may include ships, electronic measuring equipment, and offshore technical platforms, and other ocean-based vessels and construction projects.

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