Which engineering branch should i go for?

Hi all,

After reading through many threads, I can't make my mind up to which engineering branch is for me. I would like to know about the daily life on the ship, what the job entails, and what opportunities there are for leaving the ship, career opportunities, etc..... Now sorry if the question is abit open, but I am more hoping to spark a debate, seeing as there seems to be alot of rivalry between ME and WE. I heard various thoughts that deter me in some ways. for example WE seem to get alot of stick on these forums for sleeping and doing f*ck all. Then again, it would appear that they have alot more free time, leave and generally have a more enjoyable experience on the ship

If anyone would like to share their opinion then it would be greatly apprieciated
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War Hero
If you you want to regularly serve at sea, on ships go ME or WE.

If you want to be predominantly shore based, have a genuine desire to work on aircraft and work to the meticulous standards required in aviation, go AET.

When it comes to choosing between ME & WE, as a technician, I always liken ME to an overall-wearing, shift-working motor mechanic who gets their hands dirty. WE, joking aside, tends to be a diagnostic electronic mechanic, who works more with electronic hardware than with clunky clanky oily things, although there is a crossover with the guns bit.

There are literally dozens & dozens of threads on this subject, so it is worth having a more in depth browse. The one thing I would suggest is that about seventy percent of those intending to be technicians don't score high enough, so unless you've already cracked the recruiting test, don't count your eggs just yet.


War Hero
Just to add, one of life's anomalies - if you have an engineering degree and wish to be an engineering officer but fail AIB...Ratings Engineering Technicians need a higher recruit test score. This isn't because of the degree, it is because insufficient Officer applicants passed the mechanical comprehension element of the test, so it was removed. Therefore those failing to meet the standard for Engineering Officer may not meet the standard for rating entry either.
Why AE? It is a branch that seems to have it's head screwed on, does most of the work covered by the ME and WE branches (in terms of skills required), has a professional working environment, and their skills are transferable outside. What's not to like?
Cheers Alfred, very good points. No disrespect to WE, it's not my place to say, but I can't help by being put off by the numerous posts about them lazing around and having to get contractors in to repair equipment,etc..... I also hear ME get sh*t on at times as well. I'm just trying to a get a realist view of whats involved is all. For me, I want to have a professional, have a skilled job to perform, with various opportunities in terms of careers, whilst yet having a certain degree of travel and freedom to leave the ship and enjoy the adventurous side of what the navy offers. I am leaning towards AE at the moment.


War Hero
Personally, I've never regretted serving as a Marine Engineering Mechanic - ET(ME) in old money, but equally enjoyed working on the flightdeck on frigates & destroyers, doing the job that should've been done by NA(AH)'s.

The bit of the job I didn't enjoy was being a Whole Ship Stores Petty Officer on minehunters, doing the job that should've been done by a Supply Chain Logistician, jobby.

I did enjoy accidentally flooding the WE mess on a Type 42 on more than one occasion. Amazing how many of them had their daytime nap converted into a cold water bath, in hindsight.

In short there are cross-overs in all branches. If I had my time again, what job would I go for? Probably Aircrewman or maybe AET (at a push), but equally I'd be happy as a pig in pooh as an ET(ME) again.
Cheers Ninja, your insight of a couple of my threads have been very helpful. Hmm it's not occurred to me until now that i could apply for a less engineering biased role such as aircrewman, and i do like that there are crossovers with all branches.
Hi all, just an update for anyone who's interested....

So I had the RT today and passed :) After speaking with one of the officers, he explained that WE is more electrical, alot of PLC's, electrical diagnostic,etc...., whereas ME is more mechanical, dealing with maintenance, hydraulics, mechanical motors, bearings, shafts etc.... Now as an apprentice fitter, this would be more suited to me. I do fancy AET, however I want to travel and spend time at sea, so overall I have decided to switch to ME. I feel like this is more suited to my current experience and the skills I will be learning are highly transferable.
One thing he missed in the ME world, is it's the ME's who are responsible for all the electrical power generation and distribution. Electronics play a large role in the ME world as most machinery is electronicaaly controlled these days, which is why there are electrical amd mechanical ET(ME)'s.
As has been mentioned, there is some crossover of mechanical and electrical skills.
For example:

WE equipment - 20mm GAMBO - all mechanical

ME equipment - Static Frequency Changer* - all electrical

* representative. (I couldn't find a current RN model)

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