Skip to Main Content
Browse Careers

Marine Systems Engineering Officer

OFFICER | Full Time

In Demand

Apply Now


As a member of the military, Marine Systems Engineers are responsible for the readiness, operation and maintenance of propulsion and ancillary systems, power generation and distribution, auxiliary systems, ship’s service systems, ship and machinery control systems, hull structure, ship’s stability, damage control, and the integration of these systems.

They analyze the state of their systems, equipment and personnel, predict their requirement for naval operations and advise Command accordingly. The primary role of a Marine Systems Engineer is to provide technical expertise, advice and leadership in support of:

  • Day-to-day naval operations and maintenance of marine systems in ships and submarines
  • The continuous renewal of the Fleet through modernization and replacement of naval marine systems and equipment, including:
    • Design
    • Development
    • Acquisition
    • Construction
    • Disposal
  • Maintenance of infrastructure needed to support naval operations and missions in times of emergency, mobilization and war

Work environment

Marine Systems Engineers are employed in ships and submarines as the Head of the Marine Systems Engineering Department, where they are responsible for the leadership and well-being of a large team of highly trained technical professionals committed to assuring the equipment’s peak performance.

Marine Systems Engineers may work in a range of roles in support of the continuous maintenance and renewal of the fleet including providing expert engineering advice, project management, advising on the acquisition of new equipment, training and administrative positions requiring engineering expertise.

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview




LIEUTENANT NAVY ALICIA SCHICK: I'm Lieutenant Navy Alicia Schick from Pickering, Ontario, a Marine Systems Engineering Officer currently serving onboard HMCS Montreal.

A Marine Systems Engineering Officer is responsible to the Commanding Officer for the technical state of the ship. We're responsible for pretty much anything that makes a ship float and move. To do that, we of course have a whole team that actually gets in there and makes this happen.

In the engineering department, we have a team of Marine Technicians with both mechanical and electrical backgrounds, that actually, from the bottom up, act as on-watch personnel 24/7, manning and doing rounds on the equipment to ensure it’s operating as it should, as well as maintainers and technicians that either maintain the equipment to prevent any failures, or should we encounter any problems, go in there and try to rectify them.

My job is more to act as a translator then for the technicians who are the experts on the equipment, and essentially translating what they're seeing and doing to the command team in a manner that makes it more approachable and understandable what the impact is to them in the operations.

Warships are fighting ships and Marine System Engineering Officers play a role in that, too. As damage control officers, they coordinate the repair of damage from fires, floods or explosions while maintaining essential equipment so that the ship can continue to manoeuvre and fight as necessary.

LIEUTENANT NAVY ALICIA SCHICK: We're also responsible for anything that makes it more like a floating city or your home away from home: power generation, sewage treatment, freshwater production and distribution. If you don't have functional sewage treatment or fresh water provided to the crew for basic food services and showers, it becomes unsustainable in very short order.

It’s a huge area of responsibility. Marine Systems Engineering Officers lead a team of over 55 crewmembers on the ship. With more than 250 people on board, that’s a large component of the ship’s daily activities under their watch.

LIEUTENANT NAVY ALICIA SCHICK: I like what I do every day here, and I find it's that much easier to put time into it, get to know the systems and interact with the people working on those systems. And I find that's part of what makes someone a good engineering officer.   ­  

LIEUTENANT NAVY ALICIA SCHICK: This job can take you throughout the country to places that you might not otherwise have seen. I got the chance to explore some of the communities up north, which would be pretty hard to get to otherwise, or across the world where I had the opportunity to deploy to the Mediterranean in the Black Sea. Seeing places like Crete and meeting the people there, interacting with the other navies and just seeing a different country and how things are both the same and different from home.

On completion of their military and occupation training, Marine Systems Engineering Officers will be ready for their first posting to a Canadian warship or submarine. They’ll be assigned as a member of a ship’s company sailing out of either Halifax, Nova Scotia or Esquimalt, British Columbia.

They’ll spend a year as a junior officer in the Engineering Department. During that year, they’ll acquire extensive system knowledge, learning a bit about the administrative side of the job and taking on some very basic divisional responsibilities.

That first year is typically followed by a shore posting on the east or west coast. This could be working at a coastal Fleet Maintenance Facility, teaching new engineers at the Naval Fleet Schools, or providing their expert engineering assessments towards new ships and equipment purchases for the future fleet.

This shore posting is followed by another one-year posting on board a ship – this time as the Assistant Head of the Engineering Department. It’s an opportunity to focus more on the leadership and management parts of the job and to learn how to run your own engineering department.

After that, the career progression can include both land and sea postings. There can also be opportunities for engineering specialization through fully funded post-graduate education in Canada or abroad. 

LIEUTENANT NAVY ALICIA SCHICK: Part of what I'm looking at doing in the future is potentially doing an engineering management degree. With that, there's lots of opportunities within the military to go for further post-secondary education. And that's the one I'm looking at.

LIEUTENANT NAVY ALICIA SCHICK: Part of the things I like about being in the Navy as Marine Systems Engineering Officer is the variety of positions available and that you never feel stagnant with any of them. So there's still lots of things I get to go try after this that I haven't been exposed to yet

Related Civilian Occupations

  • No directly related civilian jobs


After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 12 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Forces, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.

Naval officer training

All officer candidates in the Navy attend a nine-week Naval Environmental Training Program held at the Naval Officer Training Centre in Victoria, British Columbia. This course introduces the naval environment and includes four weeks on board a minor war vessel for officers to experience life at sea.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

The professional training for Marine Systems Engineers consists of several courses held at the Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The first course, Naval Engineering Indoctrination, lasts 11 weeks and introduces the systems, equipment and personnel of the two engineering departments of the ships in the Fleet. This course includes seven weeks on board a major warship.

The next course, Marine Systems Engineering Applications, lasts 22 weeks and provides detailed instruction in the theory, application, operation, maintenance, personnel and management of Marine Systems Engineering in the Navy. On completion, officers join the ships of the Fleet for one year in order to consolidate their skills and knowledge of Marine Systems Engineering.

Throughout training, officers develop the general and personnel management skills required to successfully fill engineering positions.

Marine Systems Engineers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered specialized training in the following fields:

  • Marine propulsion control system analysis
  • Cargo management
  • Vibration analysis
  • Gas turbine engineering
  • Reliability centered maintenance
  • Advanced ship production

Marine Systems Engineering may also be offered the opportunity to further enhance their engineering credentials through fully funded post-graduate education in Canada or abroad, in the following fields:

  • Naval architecture
  • Marine engineering
  • Heavy electrical engineering
  • Control and instrumentation engineering

Entry plans

If you already have a university degree, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will decide if your academic program matches the criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.

Regular Officer Training Plan

Due to the requirement for CAF officer to obtain a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program in the Royal Military College System. Recruits will receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working in the CAF for a period of time. Typically, candidates enter the Canadian Military College System as an Officer Cadet where they study subjects relevant to both their military and academic career. In rare instances, based on the needs of the CAF, candidates may be approved attend another Canadian University. A determination will be made on a case by case basis. If you are applying for this program, you must apply to the CAF and it is recommended to apply to other Canadian universities of your choice should you not be accepted for ROTP.

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.