How to Become a Marine Electrician


Marine electricians assemble, install, inspect, troubleshoot and perform preventative maintenance on electrical equipment and wiring for ships and other water-based devices. They determine flaws, inefficiencies or hazards relating to electrical components, systems and equipment, and take actions to correct them. Employers require varying prerequisites for marine electricians, but tend to favor candidates with experience in the trade. For example, marine electricians should be skilled in interpreting and creating blueprints or sketches that specify locations of equipment and wires.

Learn the Essentials

  • The Virginia Ship Repair Association reports that marine electricians typically need a minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent, but employers are increasingly requiring candidates to complete technical education courses and obtain an electrician's license. Marine electrician courses teach students how to perform repairs, installations, alterations and maintenance procedures on marine electro-mechanical and electrical systems. Students learn to identify, diagnose, fix and explain complex problems with marine electrical systems.

Gain Hands-On Experience

  • Completing a marine electrical apprenticeship provides the training employers want to see, but also the opportunity to apply for an electrician's license. Apprenticeships typically are offered to candidates who are at least 18 years old and hold a minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent. Although program content varies, apprentices train in areas such as basic electricity, blueprint reading, repair of electrical boxes, propulsion system cabling, power tool skills, industrial safety and combat information center systems.

Obtain Your Certification

  • Marine electricians aren't required to be certified. However, vacancy announcements often note that certification from the American Boat and Yacht Council is preferable. The Marine Electrical Certification from ABYC is geared toward candidates who have a minimum of three years working in marine electrical installation, design or service. ABYC notes that applicants should have a general understanding of electrical fundamentals, including AC shore power systems and generators, AC and DC panel boards and cable installation and termination.

Acquire the Credentials

  • Working on ships requires its own set of documents. For example, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution notes that marine electricians must hold a U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential. According to the National Maritime Center, all Coast Guard Regional Examination Centers accept applications for the Merchant Mariner Credential, which is necessary for any mariner working on merchant vessels that weigh more than 100 gross register tons. Additionally, workers traveling the seas must hold a Transportation Worker Identification Credential, which is issued through the Transportation Security Administration's enrollment center.

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