Marine Engineer to Professional Engineer

I am looking into the feasibility of getting a California Mechanical Engineer’s PE license using sea time. In California they specify that engineering related experience is needed. The example they give is a construction manager with periodic engineering oversight. I feel like marine engineering would be considered engineering related but you never know how those folks interpret that kind of stuff. Have any of you successfully used sea time as an assistant engineer to obtain a PE?

You should contact the licensure board. It looks like regardless of the path you take to become licensed, there are many steps to take. I’d call them.

I don’t see how a marine engineer would qualify as a mechanical engineer.

Would you care to elaborate on that?

My degree is in mechanical engineering and as a marine engineer I maintain and operate mechanical/thermal systems(the traditional domains of mechanical engineering). I would like to eventually find design oriented work, may be at a ship yard.


I have always described Marine engineering as a specialty of Mechanical engineering. In many respects shipboard operations is not much different than Facilaties engineering which encompasses mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and other disciplines.

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Yes, that is how I see it too.

What I am confused about is the difference between “professional experience” and “subprofessional experience.” The NSPE describes, " operation, control, and testing of major mechanical installations, manufacturing plants, and power plants;" as professional experience. But, they also say, “operation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment, power plants, stationary machinery, mechanical manufacturing plants, and foundry and machine shops;” is subprofessional experience. While I am sure time on a ship is professional experience; I am not sure that time on a tug would be seen as having the same level of responsibility.

In any case, I was hoping there would be someone here whos run though this before and would have a few tips and tricks. Thanks for the input.

Cool. What school did you go to, assuming it wasn’t an academy? And did you get your license by doing the 180 days of seatime?

Cal Maritime offers an ABET accredited degree in Mechanical Engineering. It’s not much more coursework to get your 3a/e at the same time. You have the option as well of taking the FE exam, which is a precursor to taking your PE exam.

The ME program at CMA is separate from the Marine Engineering Technology program. Some fundamental classes are shared (physics, chemistry, calc) but the nitty gritty stuff (vibrations, dynamics, etc) is an independent program.

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Isn’t the FE required prior to taking the PE as well as working under a PE for some years? It used to be.
I had to take the EIT [engineer in training] exam which I think is the equivalent to the FE and then work under a PE for 5 years prior to being allowed to take the PE exam.

There are exempt fields where the supervisor does not have to be a PE, take for example HVAC or fire protection. I believe that a USCG licensed chief engineer would be seen as qualified to attest to “professional” qualifications of a candidate. Only two years is required for some one with a ME degree as the final two years of their degree is credited towards the PE. An EIT is earned by completing the FE exam. I believe qualifying experience before obtaining an EIT can be used for a PE but I am not sure on that one yet.

I doubt a USCG Chief Engineer could attest to the professional qualifications but I may be wrong. Contact NCEES National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying for the best information. They are the experts in licensing and will be happy to help.

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