Engine room technician (oiler) career


"I could be assisting the engineer in maintenance or fixing a broken fuel line or a leaking pipe. There are a million things that can happen. That is what makes this job exciting – knowing that you are fixing problems. Whether it is a broken-down vessel or a medevac at sea, there is no greater reward than bringing someone's family member back to shore safely." –Dennis Carter, Oiler, CCGS Henry Larsen


What is an engine room technician (oiler)?

As an Engine Room Technician (also known as an Oiler), you help Engineering Officers in operating, maintaining, and repairing the vessel’s equipment and machinery. While machinery is in operation, your responsibility is to monitor the equipment, check gauges and record readings, and make sure that the machinery is operating normally. You must be able to quickly troubleshoot broken equipment and make needed repairs.


Your responsibilities as an Engine Room Technician include:

  • keeping watch in the engine room for six hours at a time
  • monitoring equipment, checking gauges, and recording readings
  • keeping an engine room log
  • helping the chief engineer in the start-up and shut-down of engine room equipment
  • cleaning and caring for equipment, machinery, and machinery spaces
  • maintaining and repairing vessel machinery and tanks
  • loading and stowing spare parts and supplies

You may also participate in firefighting, environmental response, and other drills, exercises and operations.

Career opportunities

You can move up in rank by accumulating sea time and passing Transport Canada exams. These are some of the positions available:

  • Oiler/Engine Room Technician
  • Marine Engineering Officer (several ranks)
  • Chief Engineer
  • various positions within the federal public service

Income and benefits

Ships’ crew positions in the engine room offer competitive salaries and benefits. The average income is roughly $46,000 to $52,000 a year. Salary increases with rank. Please see the collective agreement for current salary rates.

Hours of work

The hours you work will depend on the vessel and operational requirements. There are four common crewing systems:

  • Conventional – 40-hour work week, Monday to Friday, 8 hours of work per day.
  • Lay-day – 12-hour work day, 7 days per week. Each day worked earns an equal banked day off.
  • 46.6 On-Call – 8-hour work day with 16 hours on call, 7 days per week. You earn days of rest for the exact period of time worked. Days of rest cannot be banked.
  • 42-Hour Averaging system – 12-hour work day, 7 days per week. You earn days of rest for the exact period of time worked. Days of rest cannot be banked.

Most Canadian Coast Guard vessels operate on a rotational crewing system:

  • 7 days on / 7 days off
  • 14 days on / 14 days off
  • 28 days on / 28 days off
  • 42 days on / 42 days off (for vessels operating in the high Arctic)

Is this career right for me?

These qualities and interests are essential for this career:

  • mechanical training
  • good manual dexterity
  • interest in technology
  • interest in working at sea
  • dependability
  • good people skills
  • taste for adventure and travel
  • ability to work irregular schedules

Training and educational requirements

To become an Engine Room Technician (also known as an Oiler), you must complete a Marine Diesel Mechanics course at a recognized institute. You will also require an Engine Room Rating Assistance certificate. Like all crew on Canadian Coast Guard vessels, you must meet other Requirements as well.


To join the Canadian Coast Guard as an Engine Room Technician, you must meet all Requirements. You must then apply through jobs.gc.ca (do not apply directly to the Coast Guard).

Please note: Résumés and applications are accepted only when a recruitment poster is advertised on jobs.gc.ca. Applications are not kept on file for future recruitment selection processes.