What does a Subsea Engineer do?

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  • Written By: Terrie Brockmann
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2020
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Subsea engineering, called marine or seabed-to-surface engineering, is a specialty job that deals with underwater projects. A subsea engineer generally designs and installs underwater structures, including oil well rigging, wellheads, and pipelines. Typically, subsea engineers have working knowledge of underwater procedures, vehicles, and equipment. Some of this equipment may include imaging equipment, robotic tools and vehicles, as well as traditional construction tools. Subsea engineering jobs are available throughout the world, but not all of the jobs are associated with the oil and gas industry.

Underwater engineering reaches beyond the oil and gas industry. For example, a subsea engineer may perform research projects for cable-laying companies and supervise a crew of divers. Some energy companies are proposing laying electrical cables between islands to provide power to places that do not have the resources to produce their own energy. Subsea engineers generally are responsible for studying the soil and seabed conditions and choose the best location for cables.

Engineers who are interested in science and research may find employment with an oceanography study group. Typically, a subsea engineer in an oceanography study will work with analysis equipment and techniques and use specialty software. Subsea engineers usually work to support research divers who are not engineers. A subsea engineer may design and customize underwater vehicles and equipment to conform to the project's needs, coordinate onshore and subsea operations, and properly document all procedures.


Not all companies expect the same duties of subsea engineers. Some companies hire senior engineers to spearhead projects and lead a group of subsea engineers. Other companies hire a lead subsea engineer to manage personnel and scheduling, allowing the senior engineer to concentrate on more technical work. Generally, different job positions have different eligibility requirements.

A subsea engineer usually has a degree, such as a master's degree, in engineering and has extra training in subsea engineering. Many schools offer full-time, part-time, or online or distance learning courses in subsea engineering. Specialty subsea engineering courses generally include up-to-date technology and procedures, as well as information on current environmental policies. A few companies offer apprenticeship to their subsea engineers who do not have formal schooling beyond a high school diploma or its equivalent. Frequently, apprenticeships are open only to candidates who have worked in the subsea industry for several years.

Other subsea engineer careers include jobs that specialize in hydraulic jumpers or umbilical systems and risk management of undersea projects. Some subsea engineers own or work for consultation businesses. They help companies plan projects, maintain underwater equipment, or analyze potential problems through risk management and may be required to work in other regions of the world. Another job that often requires travel is freelance subsea engineering, which normally involves structure repair and upkeep.


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Post 3

@brockmann: thank your for your views. You said that i need to be "certified." You see, my employer is not involved in subsea operations. Can the course in MSc Subsea Engineering "solely" satisfy my training needs?

Post 2

I believe you answered your own question when you said you "have not had any exposure on subsea technology." You can ask your employer to train you in subsea techniques. Don't forget that you need to be certified, which generally means that you need schooling in subsea operations. Good luck!

Post 1

I am a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, and have 3 years' experience in the offshore oil platform industry.

I have not had any exposure on subsea technology.

Can I consider myself for MSc Subsea Engineering ?

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