It’s all hands on deck for a life at sea

A career in the marine industry provides an opportunity to work in a unique and ever changing environment. Working with people from all over the world and enjoying exciting experiences not offered by any other career.

The marine industry continues to play a key part in our lives. Huge swathes of international trade come and go by sea, while millions of passengers leave and arrive every year. Boats play a part in leisure too—from rowing to sailing.

The fleet of ships that transport goods and people over the seas is called the Merchant Navy. They include massive container ships and oil tankers, cruise ships and car ferries, and specialist craft that might, for example, support offshore oil rigs or lay undersea cables. There’s also the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, which keeps the Royal Navy’s warships supplied with food, fuel and ammunition around the world, and tugs, which assist with the movement of larger ships in and out of ports.

Work on board is broadly divided between two departments. The deck department is in charge of navigating and steering the ship, while the engineering department makes sure the engines and all the machinery are running smoothly. Either way, it’s a far cry from your typical office job; you could be at sea for months at a time, although you’ll get plenty of leave when you’re back on shore. Port operations are important too. Cargo has to be loaded and unloaded at ports, harbours and quays using various types of lifting equipment and vehicles.

Marine engineers are required to install, maintain, fault find and repair marine engines, ancillary systems and equipment onboard yachts, commercial craft and superyachts.

There are also apprenticeships available in able seafaring, boatbuilding, piloting and more.

The Apprenticeship Guide sector head

Able seafarer

Work as part of the navigation department on ships and other vessels An able seafarer works on deck aboard ships and vessels, acting as the watchkeepers of the crew. During


Construct boats such as yachts, workboats and superyachts A boatbuilder constructs yachts, workboats and superyachts and refits and repairs existing boats. As a boatbuilder, you’ll train to work with and


Ensure the safe operation and passage of a vessel As a boatmaster, you could be the captain of a single vessel tourist boat or you could be working for a

Harbour master

Enforce regulations and industry codes of practice in a port, harbour or marina A port can refer to ports, harbours, jetties and marinas, and they are used for a variety

Marina and boatyard operative

Deliver a variety of operations and services, including vessel handling Marinas and boatyards support the yachting and boating sectors, which are key areas of the leisure marine industry. Marinas include

Marine engineer

Design and oversee testing, installation, and repair of marine apparatus and equipment A marine engineer works on boats such as yachts, commercial craft and superyachts. In this role, you’ll install,

Marine pilot

Safely navigate vessels from sea to berth or berth to sea within the port’s jurisdiction With safety in mind, a marine pilot trains in the use of vessel navigational and

Marine surveyor

Independently verify the structure, machinery, equipment and systems of ships and vessels A marine surveyor independently verifies the structure, machinery, equipment and systems of ships and vessels, to ensure compliance

Marine technical superintendent

Responsible for the safe and economic operation of one or more vessels A marine technical superintendent is responsible for the safe and economic operation of one or more vessels. In

Maritime mechanic

Undertake testing, fault diagnosis and maintenance A maritime mechanic is employed in the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy. In this role, you’ll work from engineering drawings, data and documentation in

Port marine operations officer

Assist in ensuring the safe transit and handling of vessels into and out of the port The port marine operations team assists in ensuring the safe transit and handling of

Workboat crewmember

Serve on the crew of a wide variety of specialist vessels As a workboat crewmember, usually working alongside two to three personnel, you’ll work on a variety of specialist vessels,