Home Explore Job Ideas Merchant Navy Deck Officer

Job Description

The Merchant Navy is the collective name for the UK's commercial shipping industry which is involved in the transportation of items by sea on ships including ferries, cruise and container ships. The Merchant Navy Deck Officer will be involved in leading and managing a team, looking after the day-to-day running and navigation of the ship and taking care of the passengers and cargo as well as more practical tasks on-board the vessel.

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

Entry Requirements

There are various ways in which you could get into this role:

Direct Application

You could apply to join the Merchant Navy from age 16 onwards as an officer cadet or marine apprentice and learn on the job. The Ship Safe Training Group (SSTG)  or Careers at Sea have further information about how to become a Deck Officer in the Merchant Navy.

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


You could take an industry-backed foundation degree, HND or a degree which will usually give you on-board practical training.  Relevant subjects include:

  • Marine engineering 
  • Navigation and Maritime Science
  • Nautical Engineering

You will 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

Required Skills

  • The ability to remain calm in difficult situations
  • Good team working skills
  • Able to make decisions
  • Problem solving abilities
  • A good knowledge of mechanical and electrical systems
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Resourcefulness and flexibility
  • Observation and recording skills

Salary Range

£20,500 - £80,000

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