Obtaining engine room sea time

Is there a way to log some engine room time while working as AB, looking to take a QMED class but can’t afford to spend the money to not get the QMED rating. Anyone else make the jump from AB to QMED, looking for some pointers.

Maybe it depends on the personalities on your ship, but sometimes its enough to be a keener. If you get the one who takes the logbook readings to show you how, and prove that you can do it perfectly: someone might let you do it. Or go straighten up the workshop, maybe. We had an AB downstairs with us on my last trip: because we were short-handed and trying to prepare for inspections. He got a lot of painting tasks, but he learned something about our side of things, too.

Not sure where you are working, but the best way would be to work on a boat as an unlicensed engineer. For example, you could be keeping the boat legal with your ab, but getting legitimate sea time as an unlicensed engineer or maybe even the sole engineer on board (no license required on boats under 200 grt, however some companies still like to have a licensed engineer.)

Your sea letters have to say one thing or the other. Just so you are aware once you use documented time for one capacity you can’t down the road use it for another.

You can use a percentage of deck time towards an engine credential and visa versa. If you are looking at doing a course, I have heard a lot of the engine courses give you some sea time credit as well.

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A long time ago I remember 25% of deck time could be used to obtain engine room qualifications but I don’t think that is the case any more.

Look up the QMED checklist from the NMC website & CFR 46 12.501 & 46 12.503.

If you are really serious about it talk to the Chief and let him or her know what you want to do. If you are a hard worker and show some aptitude, any good Chief should be happy for some extra help in exchange for training and sea time.
You will need to talk to the Captain as well and make sure that the deck department can spare you during work hours or that it is OK for you to help out on your off time.
Whatever you do make sure that the company will write you a sea service letter crediting you with wiper time. This may be easier to do at a smaller company where things may be more flexible. The Captain or the Chief should be able to make that happen.
Once you make all these bargains, do your very best to work hard, learn quickly, and follow directions. You’ll find a lot of opportunities will open up for you if you do.
This is how I started out and I’m still very grateful to the people who saw some value in me and decided to give me a break and help me up the first rung of the ladder.
Hope this helps. Good luck!


Ja, there’s a lot of that going on downstairs too. Fair warning.

What will actually help you is to be a decent AB. If you are a goof off upstairs they will not want you downstairs. I have seen plenty of people try to escape deck not because they wanted to be engineers, but because they were tired of chipping and painting.

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Well that explains something I’ve wondered about for almost 40 years…


Sailed with a hawspiper first who told me he went engine because too many bosses out on deck. Bosun, CM and captain

Hey. As long as he was a good engineer. I’m just sayin’

A lot of the folks I have met over the years choose engine over deck because a. They claim it’s less boring being down below and b. They claim it’s less responsibility…which I have yet to this day to fully comprehend. Hard to compare the responsibility of being in charge of the entire vessel to ‘just having to worry about the ER.’ I feel the same pressure in either capacity.

I’ve swung back and forth between the two over the years and what I have learned is getting a job in the ER has been less competitive, but that’s just me.

I am currently working as an engineer and if I was still working using my deck license I wouldn’t be making the money I am right now. I would venture to say if we lined up all credentialed mariners there may be more deckies than engine?

Also, please point me to the ER of a vessel where painting/chipping isn’t expected! Maybe I have just been working on too many ancient relics…

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JD Cavo you are the coolest! Heh.

I immediately felt more responsibility when I made the move to the engine room. A rating always has more than​ one boss. Especially an OS - the bo’sun, the cook, the mates, the captain. A wiper answers to everyone from the experienced QMED, to every A/E, to the Chief. As an A/B I was expected to chip, paint, swab, and drag heavy things around. As a wiper I was expected to always answer to my own common sense. I was told to be ever vigilant on my rounds and report anything from fires to leaks to funny smells.
There were a lot of funny smells.


There’s plenty of responsibility down here in the dungeon. Needless to say, if we err badly, the lights go out and that thing in the back stops going round and round. We also maintain a surprising amount of deck gear. At least on the ships I work on. But to each their own. I wish the OP the best of luck in his/her endeavors.


Feh. My (teen-age) daughter certainly disagrees, and I probably do also. If it was ever true, it was well into the previous century.


I believe there is a proviso if working on a tug or some small vessel, otherwise I think you have to count something over 8 hrs. for instance; 8 hrs. to your assigned position and the rest in the eng. rm. but as mentioned above, it is in the cfr, you just have to look for ‘‘credit’’ time.
and of course, if you are serious, you can find a billet in the eng. rm. … but you have to also be a genius!