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Careers At Sea

Welcome aboard the Careers at Sea information space! Here you’ll find out more about working on board ship – what roles you can do, what the training is like and what you can expect from your career in the Merchant Navy.

Fully sponsored training, a step away from 9-5 and an exciting and challenging career. Interested? We thought you might be. Start here:

Start here...

Did you know that over 90% of all goods come in and out of the UK by sea? From everyday items and essential materials, to the food you eat and the technology you use, the Merchant Navy keeps us supplied. But it’s not only resources, there’s also transport – taking people from one place to another such as by ferries and cruise ships. Find out more on this page of the website:

GET READY to find your role…

Listen to one of our Careers at Sea Ambassadors speaking about their experiences at sea.

Ships come in all shapes and sizes, each with a different purpose.

Who runs these ships and monitors the sophisticated technology? Who keeps the engines running smoothly, maintaining equipment and upkeeping essential systems on board? What about the navigation and communication on board and to people ashore? Who takes care of safety?

These responsibilities could be yours. Work as part of a team on board a Merchant Navy ship, all over the world in an essential industry for our economy.


As an Engineering Officer, you operate and maintain all the mechanical and electrical equipment on board the ship. You’ll be responsible for power generation and distribution, lifts, refrigeration plant, pumping and ventilation systems.

Using a bank of high-tech instrumentation, you’ll monitor hydraulic and control equipment, and take charge of sophisticated engine management. There will be many opportunities to put your engineering problem-solving skills to the ultimate test. After all, at sea, if something goes wrong you can’t just pull in to the nearest garage. It will be up to you to diagnose the fault, get the equipment dismantled, repaired, reassembled and back into operation.


Deck / Navigation

As a Navigation Officer – also called a Deck Officer – you’ll be a crucial member of the ship’s management team. It’s a big responsibility, with the exciting prospect of being in charge of sophisticated, expensive vessels, valuable cargo or passengers.

When on duty (called a ‘watch’), it will be down to you to make decisions on steering, manoeuvring, controlling navigation and communications with the latest technological systems at your fingertips.


Electro-Technical Officer

As an Electro-Technical Officer (often abbreviated to ETO) you’ll maintain a wide range of complex onboard electronic and electrical equipment. Look forward to regularly dealing with technical challenges and equipment as diverse as the main electric generation plant and electronic communication systems.

As well as making good use of your maintenance skills, you’ll monitor all electrical equipment onboard to maximise the operational safety and efficiency of the vessel.



‘Ratings’ is a general term for a wide variety of skilled seafarers in support roles in all departments, the work can involve a wide range of tasks essential to the safe operation and maintenance of the ship.

There are several routes you can take to become a Rating, depending on the area you decide to work in. You can get paid to train through an apprenticeship, or use your current skills and experience needed for a variety of hospitality services.


How does it work?

Your studies will be split into ‘phases’ similar to terms at school. Some phases are spent studying at a specialist nautical college and some will be practical application of your learning on board ships – which ships depend on your sponsoring company (don’t worry, we’ll get to that later).

There’s a full list of nautical colleges here

Get a taster of some nautical colleges here:

There are college open days going on throughout the year – virtual and otherwise once it’s safe to do so. You can find out more about what’s on offer, meet sponsoring companies and cadets – an excellent way of getting more information. Find details here

Want more? Hear from our Ambassadors…

Our Ambassadors can visit your school for free to speak about their experiences working at sea on different ships and as different roles. Find out more here.

You can also check out our social media pages for more exciting updates about what’s on offer from Careers at Sea.

Fully Sponsored Programmes

Ready to go? We can show you how and where to apply. Your training is fully sponsored and each company will offer different experiences.

Think about the type of ships you want to work on and spend some time researching the best fit for you. There’s advice on what to look for here. Use this link too if you see yourself as a rating – there’s a list of companies offering place at the end of the page.

Find a full list of sponsoring companies here

Get a taster of some sponsoring companies here: