A.A.S. Degree in Marine Engineering

I’m a Florida resident considering going back to college to pursue an in-state A.A.S. Marine Engineering degree. I’ve reviewed the USCG requirements for wiper, oiler, QMED and 3rd A/E, however I’ve not found anything specifically referencing an associate’s degree.

The degree program includes courses in basic welding, several diesel engine courses and auxiliary systems (among others).

Would there be any advantage, other than cost, to take the training as part of an A.A.S. degree in Marine Engineering vs. taking engineering courses at MPT or similar mariner training schools?

The program indicates that several ABYC certificates are earned during the two-year program. Do ABYC certificates have any benefit as far as counting towards the requirements for QMED or 3rd A/E?

Is there any benefit to a two-year degree if one is seeking to work in the engine room of a tug, private/charter yacht, containership or tanker?



1 Like

Unless it’s an ABET accredited program, probably not, at least in terms of credit towards meeting the service requirements for an endorsement.


1 Like

I don’t think there’s any particular advantage to a two year degree in seeking work in an engine room. You still won’t be an academy grad.

The only advantage I would see is some port engineer jobs require some sort of a college degree, even if it’s a garbage one, and that could be an opportunity you want later in your career. More and more that requirement is being replaced by ‘equivalent industrial experience’ though.

1 Like

The Degree is worthless. The QMED is valuable. There are jobs where you can sail as wiper (entry level, no training) and get enough time to sit for your QMED certificate in a year, a year where you would be earning money, and not going into debt over tuition. A lot of QMED jobs are repetitive. Not much theory needed. So it really comes down to this: is the quality of the marine engineering training you would get in school worth going into debt for?

1 Like

Thanks to everyone for the good advice.

So, would an ABET approved associate’s degree in Engineering Fundamentals or Engineering Technology be of any value, perhaps as an ETO?

Probably not. It has to be in either Marine Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Electrical Engineering. See 46 CFR 11.516(a)(4) and (5).

1 Like

Unless you do your two years at an Academy such as the the 2 year program at SUNY.

It depends on what your goals/timeframe are. That A.A.S. Program can get very detailed on specific technical information for troubleshooting, then you can move to a BS later if you want. You won’t get any coast guard credit however. If you go on a ship and sail they will try to keep you cleaning, painting working as an unlicensed person and getting the information you need/want will be harder.

1 Like

Thanks for the CFR reference. I had not seen the entire section before and learned quite a bit reading it all.

Thanks cajaya. I didn’t realize a shipping company would want to keep someone unlicensed. Good to know.

Or maybe San Jacinto?

I read the link to the CFR provided by jdcavo and, if I recall correctly, 360 days of sea time is required before sitting for the QMED exams. Can you really get 360 days of sea time in only one year?

Get a job working 6 hours on, 6 hours off (tugs, fish tenders, etc.) Then you get 1.5 USCG seadays for every day worked. I’ve had wipers work enough 270 days in a year then sit for their QMED.

1 Like

While the courses from that school don’t count toward a USCG license or endorsement it all sounds great to me. If I had to pick between 2 oilers or 2 QMEDs or 2 hawspiper engineers I’d go with the guy with formal training over a guy who didn’t have it. If I worked on land & was going to hire a former mariner I would hire the one with the degree you described over a former mariner who just had a useless mariners document & a HS diploma.

Here’s what you really need to take into consideration. Right now pretty much everyone is hiring & you can get a job without additional training. The additional training might not pay for itself right away. If you already have a degree & something to fall back on then come get it when jobs are available. But if you aren’t hard up for money or adventure & only have a HS diploma consider going back to college first. You don’t want to be a 30-40 something yr old mariner with nothing but a MMC to help you find a land job if you find yourself unemployed when the maritime industry goes into the dumps again. Good Luck.

One last thing, I always enjoyed & prefer working with oilers & QMEDs who graduated from a vo-tech school. I don’t know why maritime hiring managers don’t target vo-tech graduates & attend vo-tech job fairs to fill unlicensed positions.


That program will help you learn the material and make you a far better engineer but it won’t help you get your license faster.


180 days, see 46 CFR 12.503(a).

I am pretty sure they don’t have an engineering license program.

My suggestion. Do the 2+2 and Daytona State College (in state for you) for the BS in engineering which can be done with a career in parallel. At the end of the day, you will have a degree with sea time and no student debt.
If you didn’t get the Cal 1-3 and Differentials in the AA degree, there will be a little work there to be successful in the thermo, dynamics, and strength of materials coursework.

1 Like

Thanks achorman. I had considered this very option, however, since it wasn’t marine engineering technology specific I didn’t think it would appeal to potential employers. I’ll give it another look.

Thanks sand_pebble. Your perspective is interesting and essentially what I thought before asking the question on the forum and reading the responses. It’s helpful to have multiple viewpoints to consider since (I assume) different companies have different hiring objectives.

Thanks again jdcavo. Even with the CFR as reference the requirements can be rather confusing for a newcomer. I appreciate your help.