Merchant Navy deck officer

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Navigation officer

Merchant Navy deck officers look after the day-to-day running and navigation of ships, and take care of passengers and cargo.

Salary range: £20,500 to £80,000

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How to become a Merchant Navy deck officer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
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University

You can start your career after completing an industry-backed foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree. These courses usually include onboard practical training. Relevant subjects include:

  • nautical science
  • navigation and maritime science
  • marine engineering

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More information

The CV Writer Career Advice Guides. Helping you write a CV, guiding you to a career. Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

Apprenticeship

You could do an intermediate apprenticeship as an able seafarer (deck). This will usually take around 18 to 24 months to complete, including time at sea.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information

The CV Writer Career Advice Guides. Helping you write a CV, guiding you to a career. Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

Direct application

You can join the Merchant Navy from age 16 onwards as an officer cadet or marine apprentice and train on the job.

You will also usually need to find a sponsoring company to put you through initial training.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a Merchant Navy deck officer from Careers at Sea and the Royal Fleet Auxilliary.

The CV Writer Career Advice Guides. Helping you write a CV, guiding you to a career. Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • the ability to work well with others
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • observation and recording skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks will depend on your rank:

  • as third officer, you’ll be responsible for safety equipment and lifeboats
  • as second officer, you’ll navigate the ship using radar, satellites, computers and weather reports
  • as chief officer, you’ll manage other officers and handle financial, legal and commercial matters
  • as master or captain, you’ll have overall responsibility for the efficient running of the ship and the safety of the crew, passengers and cargo

Working environment

You could work on a ship.

Your working environment may be at height, outdoors in all weathers, cramped and you may spend nights away from home.

You may need to wear a uniform and protective clothing.

The CV Writer Career Advice Guides. Helping you write a CV, guiding you to a career. Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

Career path and progression

The Merchant Navy has clear progression routes through its ranks

You could find onshore and offshore positions with shipping companies, port authorities, maritime insurance companies and shipping brokers. Roles include logistics and fleet coordination, training and general management.

You could work for UK companies or for shipping companies based overseas.

You could also become a manager in other sectors.