Types of Jobs in the Maritime Industry

As we have mentioned you can either get a maritime job in the wheelhouse or the engine room of any vessel. Below you will find the details on each marine job you can get on any vessel in the engineering department which is working below deck in the engine room.

Chief Engineer

The Chief Engineer aboard a vessel, also called "Chief" or "The Chief," is responsible for supervising all the engineering aspects of the ship including the repair, maintenance, safe operation, and efficacy of all the main propulsion systems, water making equipment, electrical appliances, and the deck equipment. This maritime job will also require extensive knowledge of the inventory needed for any length voyage and you will be in charge of ordering and collecting these necessary supplies. The Chief Engineer is in charge of the entire engineering crew, and is a vital crew member during any maneuver or emergency, where he must be inside the engine room and in charge. This maritime position will see you working in various locations across the world, mostly on merchant vessels, but also on cruise liners, fishing trawlers, oil rigs and more.

DDE (Designated Duty Engineer)

The DDE or Designated Duty Engineer is the first assistant to the Chief. You are responsible for supervising the duties of the rest of the engineering crew, and you must make sure that everything is running smoothly and efficiently. All the engineering equipment and other aspects must be operated, maintained, and repaired safely to ensure maximum efficiency of the ship’s main engine systems and other on-board equipment. As DDE you will also be responsible for the logging of all consumables and supplies aboard the vessel when needed to help the Chief Engineer. You must also supervise all the engine room protocols, emergency drills, and other procedures, and you must assist the crew with crane operations, heavy lifting, and other ship duties.

Assistant Engineer (First, Second or Third)

The Assistant Engineer can hold the rank of First, Second or Third on-board a vessel depending on how many crew are employed, but the job responsibilities are almost the same for each of these maritime jobs. You must report directly to the Designated Duty Engineer or the Chief Engineer whilst assisting the rest of the engineering crew in maintenance, repairs, operations, and other workings of the ship regarding its main propulsion systems, water supply, electrical supply, and other equipment. To become a Chief Engineer, you have to start out as one of the Assistant Engineers and you will progress as you gain more sea experience. You can work anywhere in the world where there is a port, and you will usually find jobs on board a merchant vessel, container ship, cruise ship, fishing trawler, oil rig or yacht among other vessels.

Engineer (Third or Fourth)

On board a vessel like a cruise ship, trawler, oil tanker, or merchant liner, or commercial ship, there are various engineer jobs, one of the lower level being the Third Engineer or the Fourth Engineer. This is the entry level position, and you will be designated the lower jobs on board the vessel. You will help the rest of the crew to perform repairs, maintenance tasks, and other duties for the ship’s engine room and propulsion systems. The First and Second Assistant, the DDE and The Chief will undertake the main duties on board. You have to keep your work area clean and safe, take orders from the first assistants, give accurate reports, and endure spending time away from home for weeks if not months at a time.


The oiler is one of the two lowest positions on board a vessel. This maritime job will require you to take assignments from the Chief Engineer, DDE, or any of the Assistant Engineers and your main focus will be to ensure that all the engine oil levels are checked and maintained, ensure that the machinery is lubricated and greased accordingly for maximum efficacy and safety. General maintenance tasks like cleaning, painting, and fixing equipment and ship parts will also fall under your job description. The oiler will also deal with the main crew facilities on board such as the lighting, water supply, air conditioning, sewage and the other so called "hotel" facilities.


The wiper is the lowest maritime position you can get and your job description will consist of mainly wiping down machinery and equipment and keeping everything clean and in excellent working order. You will also need to work directly with the Chief Engineer, DDE, or Assistant Engineers to make sure that all the logs are completed accurately, as well as assisting where possible with any routine maintenance on the machinery in the engine room.

In the wheelhouse department on deck, you will find the following maritime jobs:

Master or Captain

The Master or Captain of the ship is responsible for disciplining and leading all the crew members and passengers, if any, during navigation to safety. You will also ensure that correct maintenance procedures take place to ensure the best running of the vessel at all times. The ship master or captain of the vessel is also in charge of the entire vessel and its crew. As a master mariner, you have to supervise all of the deck department, cleaning, repairs, maintenance, and more. You will also have to train offer advice to any new crew members, providing analysis of their skills and guidance where required.

Chief Mate , Chief Officer, or First Mate

There are a number of mates on board a ship, the highest of these being the Chief Mate, also known as the Chief Officer, or First Mate. As a Chief Mate you must report directly to the ship’s captain with regards to the navigation of the vessel, and your main task is to ensure the stability of the vessel, whilst also being responsible for the deck crew. Your maritime jobs duties include overseeing any cleaning, repairs, and maintenance to the vessel, as well as assisting the captain in the evaluation and training of any new crew members when needed. This will be specifically in areas of firefighting, safety, as well as search and rescue.

Second Mate or Third Mate

The Second Mate has the job of the watch keeper on board, which is a huge responsibility as part of the navigation of the vessel, and you will also be considered the medical officer on board. You are in charge of the distress signal equipment and must watch out for the safety of the other crew members and passengers at all times. The Third Mate is mainly responsible for the safety of everyone on board the vessel including all of the safety equipment and supplies. This maritime job is also known as the watch stander.

Able Seaman (AB Deckhand)

The Able Seaman, otherwise known as the AB deckhand, is usually at the helm of the vessel or watching from another vantage point for any obstructions in the way which must be reported immediately to the captain or first mate. You are also responsible for performing continued maintenance services on the ship’s exterior and interior as the watch stander. You will serve in various other positions, such as a day worker where general operating and maintaining the deck machinery is needed, as well as anchoring and mooring the vessel, loading and unloading equipment and supplies, and storing the supplies and equipment. The AB deckhands are usually responsible for the launching and operating of the lifeboats and various other safety equipments.

Ordinary Seaman (OS Deckhand)

The OS deckhand, or Ordinary Seaman, has always been the apprentice to the Able Seaman. Your other responsibilities will include cleaning and repairing deck equipment, the general maintenance, and cleaning of the deck department. You must also assist with the loading and unloading of equipment and supplies, as well as the storing of supplies or whatever else is needed at any time during a voyage. This position requires you to work at sea for a long period of time before you get promoted, and you have to complete a series of courses and certificates. Being a helmsman is one of the courses covered, so during your sea time, although not part of your duties, you should get experience in standing watch at the helm.


The Deckhand is an entry level position and you are responsible for performing general maintenance to the ship interior and exterior, as well as cleaning the vessel, loading and unloading supplies and equipment, and any other duties that may be required on deck. The deckhands are normally the riggers and pullers who are responsible for handling and fastening the mooring lines. You will also ensure that the vessel is secured to the dock and to other vessels, wash and clean the deck, do the painting, splice and repair the ropes and cables, and lubricate any equipment or machinery.


Merchant Marine Qualifications & Certifications