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Smooth sailing

education Updated: Jul 24, 2012 16:23 IST

The lowdown
Modern ships use the latest technology and equipment that the marine engineer has to understand, operate and maintain. The job demands a high degree of discipline, since a chief engineer will be in charge of a ship and cargo worth millions of dollars. This is different from the job of a deck officer, which involves navigation of the ship, receiving and discharging cargo and administrative work. A marine engineer can be assigned to a cargo ship, a container ship, or an oil and gas tanker. To work on a gas-carrying ship, one will be required to do a certification course. Marine engineers must keep themselves updated on the latest technology, says Vivek Kumar, director, Applied Research International

Clockwork
The junior engineer keeps watch and other engineers carry out repairs and maintenance from 8am to 5pm. While the ship remains at the port, all engineers and crew members are allowed to go ashore and visit local places of interest

The payoff
The salary of a marine engineer at the operational level (first rung after six-month training) is $1,000 to $2,000 a month (average Rs. 70,000 for a junior engineer).

A chief engineer gets about $10,000 (about Rs. 5.5 lakh) a month. These figures could change depending on the size, type and flag of the ship

Skills/TRAITS
* Physically and mentally strong
* Be resolute and ambitious, since progression depends on regular exams
* Get along with all kinds of people, since the crew is your family
* Physically fit

Getting there
Study science in Class 11 and 12. Then take up a BTech in marine engineering or a mechanical engineering degree and a one-year bridge course. The admission criteria generally is Class 12 with physics, chemistry and maths along with a rank in the IIT entrance exam/ another national-level test

Institutes and URLs
* Indian Maritime University, Chennai, www.nipm.tn.nic.in
* LBS College of Advanced Maritime Studies & Research, Mumbai, www.dgshipping.com
* Marine Engineering & Research Institute, Kolkata
www.merical.ac.in

Pros and cons
* It is a very highly-paid job
* Post-sailing job options aplenty
* Continuous work takes a toll on your health
* It is hard for married people to be away from their families for long stretches of time

This is a disciplined and challenging field for those who are passionate about the sea and working with tools Vivek Kumar, director, Applied Research International, New Delhi