Rob Benoit

Marine Diesel Graduate

Marine Engineering Student

Marine Institute
St. John's, NL

Why did Rob choose this career area?

After graduating from high school, Rob wanted a career that would offer great travel, not just a 9-5 job. He liked to tinker with motors and work with his hands, so he did some research and learned that marine engineers perform hands-on duties and earn very high salaries.

What’s Rob’s educational background?

Rob chose the one-year Marine Diesel Mechanics program at Marine Institute. Once he graduated, he worked on ships sailing the eastern seaboard and Labrador waters. Rob really took to the work, the water, and the travel.

Though he was earning high wages, he decided to go back to school and complete the Diploma in Marine Engineering. Still young and keen to move up the career ladder, Rob decided to earn this higher credential.

He wanted the bigger benefits, such as earning his chief engineer ticket quickly.

What’s Rob’s job all about?

Rob is currently a student again; however, when he was working, he found travelling to different ports exciting.

Rob thrived on his shipboard duties. He was responsible for every piece of machinery onboard, and for everything that needed to be fixed. The challenges differed every day, and this meant learning effective ways to solve problems.

Rob sometimes used his skills as a plumber, welder, machinist, electrician, carpenter, refrigeration mechanic, and medic. He even had to know how to fight fires. Like he says, “You have to know a little bit about everything because when you’re sailing in the middle of the ocean, it’s pretty much up to you.”

What are Rob’s working conditions like?

As a marine diesel mechanic, Rob enjoyed working with crew from all over the world on ships sailing worldwide. Onboard the vessels, Rob worked 8-12 hours a day.

Accommodations were good, usually a private room with washroom; and some ships had weight rooms and recreational facilities for use during off hours. When at work, he was able to leave the stresses of home behind; but when at home, he could shut out work completely. With approximately six months on/off every year, Rob was happy with the work-home balance.

What benefits are associated with Rob’s job?

Marine diesel graduate salaries are good, but Rob observed that most marine engineers are approaching retirement age. He saw the projected shortage as an opportunity and was encouraged to go back to school in order to move up in salary and in responsibility.

Money and duties aside, Rob enjoyed the shipboard life. Having three meals prepared every day made life easy, and the friendships made were awesome. Most importantly, he thrived on the travel opportunities.

Many companies pay all work-related travel expenses, so employees live wherever they choose. For Rob, home became St. John’s.

What’s exciting or cool about Rob’s career area?

Rob found the travel exciting and work interesting. He also learned to appreciate how important shipping is to society. As he pointed out, almost everything not manufactured in NL is brought here by ship.

Most importantly for Rob, this career is cool because he could go back to school to upgrade his qualifications. He expects to have tons of positions to choose from when he graduates.

What advice would Rob give to people considering a marine transportation career?

Rob advises keeping an open mind and learning from others. He feels that good listening and people skills are critical, no matter what career is selected. These skills make all the difference for those who work on ships or offshore rigs because fellow crew members become like family during long shifts away from home.

Rob tells high school students to try physics and chemistry. These subjects lay a solid foundation for future studies in marine engineering technology.