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Marine Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time

In Demand

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As a member of the military, Marine Technicians operate and maintain highly technical electro-mechanical, propulsion, mechanical and power generation/distribution systems, enabling Royal Canadian Navy warships to float, move and fight. They are trained to specialize in either the mechanical or electrical fields as they progress in their careers.

The primary responsibilities of Marine Technicians are to operate all marine systems engineering equipment onboard ship, troubleshoot failures, advise command on limitations and repair as required to restore system function. They execute and track maintenance schedules to keep the ship’s engineering equipment in prime condition. They respond to emergencies as the onboard experts in firefighting and damage control, including helicopter crash rescue. They are the ship’s metal workers and carry out burning, welding and machining.

Command relies on the Marine Technician’s in-depth knowledge of the following systems:   

  • Propulsion gas turbine and diesel engines and associated systems, including gearing and shafting
  • Generators and power distribution systems, including casualty power
  • Hydraulic equipment and systems
  • Electronic machinery control systems
  • Fitted and portable damage control  and firefighting equipment
  • Refrigeration, air conditioning and ventilation equipment
  • Fuel and other liquid management systems

Work environment

Marine Technicians spend much of their career on board ships based in either Halifax, Nova Scotia or Esquimalt, British Columbia. They experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with work at sea, such as working in limited light conditions and small spaces. There may be occasions when they work on open deck surfaces in a variety of weather conditions repairing or maintaining equipment. While at sea, all members of the ship's company stand watch in shifts. When the ship is alongside, Marine Technicians usually work a regular day-shift schedule.

In addition to their primary duties, junior Marine Technicians may spend time working outside their occupation performing general duties such as cleaning, painting, working in the cafeteria or loading supplies.

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




PETTY OFFICER 2nd CLASS JOANNE HARLOFF: I’m Petty Officer 2nd Class Joanne Harloff, from Niagara Falls, Ontario, a Marine Technician posted to Naval Fleet School Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

LEADING SEAMAN JEFF DUBINSKY: And I’m Leading Seaman Jeff Dubinsky from Duncan, B.C., a Marine Technician currently serving onboard HMCS Vancouver.

NARRATOR: Our ships and submarines deploy on operations both here at home and internationally. And on every one of those vessels you’ll find Marine Technicians.

HARLOFF: We talk about ships having to move, to fight and to float. As a Marine Technician, we’re in charge of move the ship and float the ship.

NARRATOR: The marine system’s engineering department is responsible for propulsion, the whole superstructure of the ship, and mechanical systems, as well as piping systems, HVAC, sewage treatment, damage control and firefighting equipment, electrical power generation and distribution, and control systems.

HARLOFF: You’ll have a rounds-person look around and just monitor the machinery. We talk to that as just our preventive maintenance on machinery, so just watching and seeing how it’s operating. You also then would have personnel that are in the machinery control room – they’ll be watching the machinery run remotely. And they’ll be directing that rounds-person on certain machinery that may not be running correctly. While one person is doing rounds, there’s other members that will be doing general maintenance on machinery that has to be done. Husbandry within there, definitely oil changes come up with a lot of our machinery, so groups of them will go do maintenance sections.

NARRATOR: This trade is a good fit for the kind of person who’s energized by troubleshooting and problem solving, and working with equipment and tools. Although a strong academic background in math and physics will serve you well, you’ve got to be ready to get your hands dirty. You’ll need the confidence to approach and tackle problems as they arise, even if it’s a situation you’ve never faced before. It’s a challenging trade both physically and mentally, but if you enjoy working with your hands, problem solving and have a passion for life at sea, then a career as a Marine Technician in the Royal Canadian Navy might be just the thing for you.

HARLOFF: On the ship there’s always something going on and something exciting that’s happening that you can always go view and see. I’ve listened to whales underwater, just because I’m onboard and they say: “Hey! Come check this out, it’s really cool!” I’ve fired 50-cal machine guns even though it’s not my job, you still get that opportunity to shadow somebody else and see different trades that are available to the Navy.

DUBINSKY: My favourite thing to do is welding and fabricating throughout the ship. It allows me the opportunity to get creative and do jobs that I really like to do.

HARLOFF: You’re always learning something new as technology and engineering practices change, and engineering changes in general – well, the Navy is staying in front of that.

DUBINSKY: Every day there’s a different job to do in different areas of the ship. So there’s always an opportunity for me to learn more about the ship, as well as get further training on those pieces of equipment.

DUBINSKY: It’s a part of my duties to be a member of the ship’s dive team. I get to jump off the back of the ship, or jump out of helicopters to pull people that have fallen overboard out of the water. Or I do hull inspections and surveys with other members of the team and make sure everything mechanically is running sound underwater.

NARRATOR: Once they complete their training, Marine Technicians will spend a good part of their career aboard ships in either Esquimalt, B.C. or Halifax, Nova Scotia.

HARLOFF: Alongside in port, it’s a normal working day, Monday to Friday, 8 till 4 PM. I go home; I have a husband and child at home that I go to after work, so it’s still a normal everyday life.

DUBINSKY: At sea, we can work a variety of shifts, usually totalling about 12 hours a day, working from being into the engine spaces to working on different systems around the ship.

NARRATOR: Sometimes Marine Techs have to work outside of their normal routine to get the job done. They’ll be involved in ship duties like refuelling at sea, bringing stores on board, or standing watch.

HARLOFF: We also fall into a regular ship’s schedule, assisting other departments on the ship; normal cleaning of the ship, because you have over 200 people living onboard a frigate, it’s just like a floating city. With the Royal Canadian Navy, we spend a lot of time training for situations where we pretend that something’s actually happening. But as a Marine Technician you actually fix things. You actually get to see the end result.

DUBINSKY: In the last year I’ve been to multiple different ports in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore. Those are the memories and those are the experiences that I value most from this job.

HARLOFF: As a young person starting out, I spent thousands of dollars backpacking through Europe, running into the same people in three different ports I was in, three different countries I went to that were doing it with the Navy. You can see the world while they pay you and while you train to get a career. It’s not just a job, you get a full career out of it.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Arc/Acetylene Welder
  • Construction Millwright and Industrial Mechanic
  • Electrician
  • Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanic
  • Hydro Power Station Operator
  • Marine Engineer
  • Marine Electrical Technician
  • Marine Equipment Electrician
  • Millwright
  • Plumber
  • Sheet Metal Worker
  • Stationary Engineer and Auxiliary Equipment Operator


The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or “basic training,” held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.


Learn more about Basic Training here.

Marine Technicians attend Naval Fleet School Pacific in Esquimalt, British Columbia. Training takes several months and includes:

  • Basic mechanical, electrical and hull systems theory
  • Basic preventive and corrective maintenance for marine systems
  • The conduct of propulsion and ancillary rounds
  • Equipment flash-up and shut-down procedures
  • Basic emergency responses to equipment failures
  • Emergency burning and welding equipment and procedures
  • Repair of watertight and non-watertight closures

Marine Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and/or on-the-job training, including:

  • Helicopter Crash Rescue Firefighting
  • Welding
  • Fabrication / Machining
  • Diesel Inspection
  • Gas Turbine Maintenance

As they progress in their career, Marine Technicians who demonstrate the required ability and potential may be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Advanced mechanical preventive / corrective maintenance
  • Advanced electrical preventive / corrective maintenance
  • Plant operation and watch supervision
  • Advanced firefighting / damage control
  • Refit management
  • Equipment lifecycle management
  • Maintenance management

Entry plans

The minimum required education to apply for this occupation is :

The completion of provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondary 4 in Quebec, including:

  • Grade 10 Academic Math or Math 426; or
  • Grade 12 Applied Math or Math 526

A General Education Development certificate (GED) would only be acceptable if applicant also has Grade 10 Academic Math (or Math 426) or Grade 12 Applied Math (or Math 526) courses completed.

The ideal candidate will already have a college diploma or Red Seal for a related civilian occupation, the Forces will decide if your academic program matches the training criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training.

Foreign education may be accepted.

Non-Commissioned Member (NCM) Subsidized Training and Education Program (STEP)

Because this position requires specialty training, the CAF will pay successful recruits to attend the diploma program at an approved Canadian college. NCM STEP students attend basic training and on-the-job training during the summer months. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the appropriate college.

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Part time options

The Marine Technician Occupation is available for part-time employment with the Naval Reserve at certain locations across Canada, including 24 Naval Reserve Divisions (NRDs). Reserve Force members may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They usually serve part- time at a Naval Reserve Division in their community and full-time for short periods of training or deployment on bases, ships and military operations within Canada or abroad.  They may also volunteer for long-term full-time contracts for up to several years. They are generally not posted or required to do a military move however, they are entitled to a military move for long-term full-time contracts. They can voluntarily transfer from one Naval Reserve Division to another as their civilian life relocates them.

Marine Technician – Reservists serve as members of the Royal Canadian Navy. Like their Regular Force counterparts, they are employed for the operation and maintenance of all mechanical, electrical and structural systems onboard RCN ships. Reserve Marine Technicians may be eligible for the same training and employment as Regular Force Marine technicians providing they have the time available; or they may choose to serve primarily part-time in their Naval Reserve Division. Reservists provide technical expertise in support of boatsheds, performing advanced preventive and corrective maintenance on small boats. In support of Naval Security Teams (NSTs), reservists conduct setup, operation and maintenance of power generation, ventilation, and related systems for portable operation centers and temporary support bases. In support of operations, Reserves may progress to taking charge of the maintenance teams and the equipment under their responsibility. Part-time employment is normally in the Marine Technician’s Naval Reserve Division and some part-time training is conducted on weekends at naval schools or in ships afloat. Short-term and long-term full-time employment in ships, NST exercises and operations, and at naval schools is normally available in the summer months.

Find a Recruiting Centre

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts for work that is common to the two components. Reservists usually begin training in their Naval Reserve Division to prepare them for the Basic Military Naval Qualification course at Quebec City, Quebec. Following basic training Reserve Marine Technicians usually start their occupational training at their Naval Reserve Division and then complete the initial occupational training and Naval Environmental Training at either Naval Fleet School Pacific in Esquimalt, British Columbia or Naval Fleet School Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia over several months.

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time within their home unit for scheduled evenings and occasional weekends. They are paid 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package including a pension plan, and may qualify for reimbursement of civilian education expenses.