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Job Description

Marine Pilots are required to assist ships when entering and leaving the harbour, they will board moving vessels from a high powered harbour launch, often climbing high ladders to access the vehicles. They will have a precise knowledge of the harbour, and will take into account weather conditions, underwater conditions, tides, weight and operational characteristics of the vessel.

Entry Requirements

Marine Pilots are traditionally Seafarers who have served on ships in the capacity of a senior deck officer.  The majority of pilots will have served as a Captain or Chief Officer on a merchant ship (or the Naval equivalent) and will have their Master's qualification.  There are exceptions to this where pilots have been recruited and trained from the local community, in some small ports it's not unusual for the pilot to also be the Harbour Master.  Entry qualifications for pilots can range from a general maritime qualification to a full Master's certificate.


This depends on the size and complexity of the port but in the UK, major ports training usually lasts 4-6 months and is generally practical with trainees accompanying qualified pilots on all the different classes of ships using the port. On completion of the initial training the candidate will be examined and granted an 'Authorisation' or 'License' to pilot.

How to get started 

A good starting point to get into the industry would be to enroll as a deck cadet, which you can do through the following organisations:

The SSTG (Ship Safe Training Group) 

Chiltern Maritime

Clyde Marine

Royal Navy

Solent University


The Maritime Training Academy have developed a Diploma that will help when looking for employment.

Required Skills

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Comfortable working on the water and working with heights
  • Good team working abilities
  • The ability to identify issues and resolve them
  • Good judgement and decision making
  • The ability to listen and understand points being made
  • Time management skills
  • Able to follow policies and procedures

Salary Range

£55,000 to £108,000

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