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
How to become a Merchant Navy deck officer
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
- applying directly
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
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
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
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.
You’ll usually need:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
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.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- 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
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
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.
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.