June 12, 2020

Marine Engine Fitter

A marine engine fitter installs, repairs, services and overhauls marine engines. This could be on a ship or on a boat and there are many different types of engines.

If you are interested in this trade you will need to be good at working with your hands; have good hearing and vision; be a problem solver; be physically fit and a hard worker. You could work for a boat or ship builder installing engines on land, or you could be at sea maintaining and repairing diesel engines, hydraulics, pumps and piping systems, refrigeration systems and welding. On a large ship this work can be noisy, dirty and dangerous and you cannot suffer from sea sickness as you will need to work below decks in a hot and confined engine room. For more information on working in the engine department on board a ship, see the section on seafarers in this booklet.

Key tasks:

• Measuring and marking.
• Assembling and fitting.
• Adjusting and fitting.
• Cleaning and lubricating.
• Troubleshooting.
• Repairing equipment.
• Inspecting, maintaining and installing.   
• Keeping records.
• Interpret drawings and engine specifications.
• Install engines in position using hoisting equipment.           
• Test engines and make adjustments (both to the engine itself and the engine bed).
• Dismantle, replace and reassemble engine auxiliaries, pumps, ventilation system, steering gear and cylinder heads.
• Repair and maintain filters.
• Test and service injectors.
• Check and test cooling systems.
• Overhaul fuel pumps, carburettors, fuel filters and air cleaners.
• Do basic welding and sheet metal work.   
• Work with the lubrication system.
• Work with steering shafts and propellers.
• Work on starters, ignitions, charging systems and batteries.           
• Overhaul air compressors, fuel feeds and fuel injection systems.                  

Entry requirements/training:

The closest qualification for a marine engine fitter in South Africa is a learnership with the SA Navy: Mechanical Fitter (Machinery). This will give you sea going experience and the opportunity to work on ships engines. All junior officers receive their orientation training at the Naval College at Gordon’s Bay. Officers who have the required academic aptitude are sent to the University of Stellenbosch to be trained as engineers. Those who wish to become naval technical officers, study at the Cape Technikon. Entry requirements are a Grade 10 and you must be physically fit and bilingual. 

A generic Mechanical Fitter apprenticeship at Level 4 is also offered by the QCTO (94021) and will be offered at TVETs. You will only receive generic mechanical knowledge and would need to gain the marine specialization with on the job training.

Career advancement:

You could further your career and become a Chief Engineer on a ship. You would need to study further at a University of Technology following the international career path as defined by the International Maritime Organisation. (See the section on seafarers in this booklet for more information).

Associated job opportunities:

A fitter can work in a number of different sectors with the skills set you acquire. This could be the mining industry, the forestry industry, the transport industry, the agricultural industry and others. A good work ethic, timekeeping and accurate work and reporting will ensure associated job opportunities are available to you.