Everything You Need to Know About Motorman Jobs

May 13, 2021 · 12 mins read ·

Jobs at Sea
dials and alarm in engine room

Are you interested in finding out more about jobs at sea? Would you like to know more about what a typical life at sea is like for someone working in a seafarer job?

Perhaps you’d like to know more about certain seafarer ranks and see if they might be the right maritime career pathway for you.

If so, you’ve come to the right blog!

Here at Martide we’ve been exploring different seafarer jobs and seeing what some examples of maritime jobs are. You might have already read our articles about Able Bodied Seaman duties and responsibilities, what does a Bosun do, or what are an Ordinary Seaman’s duties?

We've also looked at some seafarer jobs which are more often found on cruise liners and passenger ships such as carpenter, waste operator, plumber, Steward and Stewardess and Chief Steward.

We’ve plenty more blog posts about different ship jobs such as Electrical Cadets and ETO Cadets and excavator drivers so don’t forget to check some out when you’ve finished this one!

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Marine Pilot Jobs

The maritime jobs list is a long one and for this blog post, we’re going to take a look at what does a Motorman on a ship do?


The Motorman might not spring to mind when you first think of different jobs at sea, but, like his or her fellow seafarers, the job is still a vital cog in the wheel of the crew!

Let’s jump right in.

Everything you need to know about Motorman jobs

What is a seafarer? It’s anyone who works onboard a vessel, whether that’s a merchant navy / merchant marine container ship, oil tanker, heavy bulk carrier or ro-ro vessel. It’s also anyone who works on other types of ships: ferries, tug boats, cruise ships and more.

In our case, because Martide helps seafarers find jobs at sea on commercial container and cargo ships, we’re going to focus on this aspect of the maritime industry.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Navigation Officer Jobs

So what is a Motorman on a ship? And what does a Motorman do on a ship?

A Motorman is part of a vessel’s engine department. And as you might have already guessed, this department is responsible for operating, maintaining, and if necessary, repairing the ship’s engine and propulsion systems.

But that’s only scratching the surface, for this also includes responsibility for the engine’s fuel oil, lubrication, water distillation, and separation process.

Not only that but the remit also includes taking care of support systems for the crew and cargo (and on a ship such as a ferry or cruise liner, the passengers). This could be anything from air conditioning to refrigeration to lighting systems.

Who works in a ship’s engine department?

Generally speaking, the engine department of a vessel is run by the Engine Officers: the Chief Engineer, the Second Engineer and Third Engineer. (How many officers and crew onboard will depend on the shipping company and the vessel.)

Working below the officers will be the ratings - a word that is used for skilled crew members who carry out support work and duties, such as Junior Engineers.

The Motorman is one of these ratings and they will normally report to the Second Engineer, when they are on watch, or if not the Duty Engineer.


A Motorman could be working alongside a Fitter (someone who specializes in welding and fabrication), an Oiler (as the name implies, this is someone who is tasked with making sure that machinery is lubricated), and a Wiper (this is the most entry level cargo ship job for a rating in the engine department and involves making sure that machinery areas are kept neat and clean.)

What are a Motorman’s duties and responsibilities?

Like many jobs at sea, a Motorman has a varied list of duties and responsibilities. They will stand watch with the Engine Officer on duty and he or she will also help with repair and maintenance as well as carry out more basic tasks in the engine room and around the vessel such as cleaning or painting.

They will also have duties that could include making routine checks of machinery, as well as of the bilge and pump rooms, and the tanks. They will inspect equipment such as turbines, condensers, and pumps and will be expected to record their findings and report any issues or problems that they find to their Officers, and safely rectify them if possible.

The Motorman could also find themselves maintaining equipment and machinery including sewage disposal systems, steering systems, lifeboats, generators and other assorted tools.

What qualifications do you need to become a Motorman?

A Motorman is one of the jobs at sea that don’t require dozens of qualifications. But like some of the other entry level cargo ship jobs, having a mechanical background, knowledge of diesel engines, and a passion for all things mechanical and how they work is a good starting point.

Some shipping companies require that a potential Motorman has worked as a Ship’s Technician or as an Oiler and are working their way up through the seafarer ranks.

Many Motormen start their careers in jobs at sea at this point and then work their way up to become a First or Second Engineer - and then maybe even into one of the Chief Marine Engineer jobs.

What else do you need to become a Motorman working in jobs at sea?

A seafarer job is hard. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the Master (Captain) of the ship or a Deck Cadet, the fact is, you will be spending months at a time away from your family, friends and other loved ones.


This takes a certain amount of mental strength to cope with and we urge anyone who is considering working in seafarer jobs to honestly ask themselves if they think they can cope with a life at sea.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Electro-Technical Officer Jobs

Not only that, but whatever the seaman job you work in, life can be not only mentally challenging, but also physically hard. Take into account the bad weather you might encounter, the homesickness, and the long hours and hard work. To build a successful career in a seafarer job, you need to be pretty tough!

What are some examples of maritime jobs? More seafarer jobs

Whatever career in jobs at sea you choose will depend upon your personal strengths and preferences. Maybe the thought of a Motorman’s duties and responsibilities don’t sound that appealing to you? Why not take a look at the maritime jobs list and see what other seafarer jobs you might be interested in?

For example, do your family and friends praise your amazing kitchen skills? Maybe becoming a Ship’s Cook might be the right job at sea for you? Or perhaps you’re more interested in electrics than engines? In that case you might want to find out more about Marine Electrician and Junior Electrician jobs.

There are lots of more seafarer jobs on the maritime jobs list, from the top paying maritime jobs like Chief Officer jobs to entry level cargo ship jobs such as Pumpman jobs at sea.

Whatever your background and interests are, if you have the essential skills and personality traits to work in ship jobs, you will be building a very rewarding career

How can Martide help you find your next seafarer job?

At Martide we’re always looking for qualified and skilled people who have a genuine passion for working in seafarer jobs.  

Whether you’re looking for entry level cargo ship jobs such as Wiper, Engine Cadet or Deckhand or you’re seeking your next Master, Chief Officer or Chief Marine Engineer job we can help.

Advert for Martide's maritime jobs website showing a smartphone with seafarer jobs on the screen and text inviting users to create an online seafarer resume

Create an account with Martide today, upload your work experience and other details to create your seafarer profile (it’s like your online seafarer resume!) and start applying for jobs at sea right away.

Even better, download our free seafarer job app which makes it even easier to apply for ship jobs. You can download the app right now from Google Play for Android or from the App Store for Apple iOS.

We look forward to seeing you onboard soon!

Read the previous article in this series: Everything You Need to Know About Messman Jobs

Read the next article in this series: Everything You Need to Know About Wiper Jobs

Eve Church

Eve Church

Eve is Martide's content writer, publishing regular posts on everything from our maritime recruitment and crew planning software to life at sea. Eve has been writing professionally for more than two decades, crafting everything from SEO-focused blog posts and website landing pages to magazine articles and corporate whitepapers.


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