Engineering vs. Deck questions

I’m going to be applying to an academy for next fall as an older student (career change). I have a natural mechanical ability but I also love the sea and commanding vessels. So far that’s only been sail boats.

From what I’ve read on this site, the availibility of work seems higher for engineers than deck officers. I’m more drawn to the deck but I want to make the best career move. I’ve been in business for myself for most of my adult life so I know what it is like to work hard and I have a laser-beam focus. I guess my question pertains to life aboard ship as an engineer. Do engineers get the same shore leave opportunities? Can they enjoy life above decks when off duty? How do the pay grades compare and is the opportuity for advancement about the same?

That’s a lot of questions but I’d really like the input of some people in the field. I would like to add that this forum is a collection of the most professional and well educated/spoken people I’ve read in any field of work. Congratulations to you and this great site.

-Brian

[QUOTE=brianj;41514] I would like to add that this forum is a collection of the most professional and well educated/spoken people I’ve read in any field of work.[/QUOTE]

That statement demonstrates your poor judgment. That means you will require close supervision. My vote: ENGINE.

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;41538]That statement demonstrates your poor judgment. That means you will require close supervision. My vote: ENGINE.[/QUOTE]

that or he was drunk when he posted it! :slight_smile:

I just started at Great Lakes Maritime Academy 2 weeks ago, I enrolled in the deck program. After talking with the Chief on board, Engineers are making more money from the start, there is always extra work to go around during lay up and fit out. if you don’t want to work on ships there is a lot more opportunity to work power plants and other shore side jobs.

I did 2 years in a Machine Shop and 5 years Doing Industrial maintenance( mostly PLC automation, vacuum pumps, lots of plumbing,a lot of boiler work and lots of 3 phase equipment.) I also have a degree in Automotive service and machine tool technology.

However I was getting tired of doing all of that stuff and only making 30k a year, I have no Wife, No kids, and I wanted to learn something new which also interested me so thats why I chose the deck route.

So Chose what you want but I would really look at engineering programs. Very good knowledge to have and lots of opportunities.

just my 2 cents.

Nate

Maybe it’s that because of my DP cert I make twice the money and have twice the job stability of the academy grads in my engine room. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to go through life deaf and smelling like SH!T. Either way my vote is deck.

I would say that just go with what interests you more. If you end up deep sea, there are going to be long days, so you better be interested in what you do. Engineering has always appealed to me more than deck operations. This isn’t to say that I am not interested in seamanship, it is just that I am more interested in engineering. Now, since you state that you are older, I don’t know which academy that you are interested in.

I don’t know how other academies do it, but I do know that when I went through KP, one made a preliminary choice of deck or engine. If you chose engine (like I did), my first quarter classes were geared toward nautical science (basic navigation, piloting, seamanship, knots, splicing deck operations, etc.). Conversely, those that chose deck initially, their track on that first quarter was geared toward marine engineering. During the second quarter, the tracks were reversed with the potential engineers taking marine engineering courses and mates taking nautical science. It was only after those first two quarters that the student then made their permanent choice.

I would say that there is probably more physical labor in engineering. I like it because there is more problem solving, trouble shooting and solution creation. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have some really rotten days when I was sailing, because I certainly did; but that will happen in any position and any job. I can say that of all the work I have done in my nearly 40 years of being in the work force, I had far more job satisfaction when I was sailing as an engineer than anything else. Pay was important, but really secondary to be honest. When I worked on ocean tugs, my pay was more than the captain, just because of the way the overtime was structured. But that really didn’t matter.

As far as day to day operations, you will get time to see the sun and seas. Most modern diesel ships, should you go deep sea, run unmanned engine rooms at night, so the engineers do their maintenance during the day, with one then designated to respond to alarms overnight. For those with watches, just like on deck. the day is broken down into six four hour segments, and watches are stood twice a day for four hours.

As far as going ashore, it all depends on your work load, assignment, etc. I found that I had just as much shore time as anyone else on any vessel to be honest. As with anything else, if you do what you enjoy, it will be a lot less like work. When I went to sea, I didn’t have a hobby. My work was my hobby.

[QUOTE=brianj;41514]I’m going to be applying to an academy for next fall as an older student (career change). I have a natural mechanical ability but I also love the sea and commanding vessels. So far that’s only been sail boats.

From what I’ve read on this site, the availibility of work seems higher for engineers than deck officers. I’m more drawn to the deck but I want to make the best career move.
-Brian[/QUOTE]

cmakin is right, going to sea can be pretty miserable at times and if you don’t like what you’re doing it is even worse. Everything else being equal engineers tend to work better hours (in an unmanned engine room) but the working conditions are worse. Going engine is probably the safer bet, more opportunities ashore. if you love the sea going deck is probably going to be more rewarding but if you decide to quit the sea you’d better have some good management skills to make in money ashore. It sounds like you want to go deck but think engine is safer, that’s about right. You pay your money and you takes your chances

[QUOTE=cmjeff;41565]Maybe it’s that because of my DP cert I make twice the money and have twice the job stability of the academy grads in my engine room. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to go through life deaf and smelling like SH!T. Either way my vote is deck.[/QUOTE]

Chief mate on a drillship with DP makes twice as much as a 1st engineer on a drillship? Most 1st engineers I know make $150-180/yr, that means DP guys are pulling in $300-380/yr???
Dayyuum.