Able seafarer/tug rating (deck or engine room) apprenticeship

Able seafarer/tug rating (deck or engine room) apprenticeship

Tugs assist with the movement of larger ships in and out of port so that they may safely dock and undock.

Most tugs operate within the immediate area of a port or harbour, but there are opportunities for sea-going work concerned with moving disabled vessels to a safe haven and assisting with salvage work. The Able Seafarer apprenticeship pathway offers an excellent way into the industry for anybody who wants to work on board a tug or ocean-going ship.

As an apprentice, you will gain a practical insight into many different areas of vessel operations, maritime technology, navigation, safety, towage operations, leadership and management. This practical experience will be supported with off-the-job learning to provide the theoretical knowledge necessary to work safely and effectively, as well as giving a sound basis for career progression. You will have the opportunity to either work on deck or in the engine room helping to ensure the vessel’s engine and machinery function effectively. Working on an ocean-going ship will involve time spent away from home, possibly for long periods.

Career opportunities – you can continue your career along the deck route by progressing to Mate and then on to Master once you have achieved the relevant statutory qualifications.

If you wish you can move into related maritime industries such as the Merchant Navy, Sea Fishing, offshore support or a Boatmaster working on rivers or inland waterways. These industries recognise the expertise you have gained while working in the tugs sector and may provide you with further opportunities to develop your career.

You can get more information on careers at the Careers at Sea and Beyond website:

Location – There are tugs and ocean-going ships operating from all larger ports and harbours. It is likely you would chose somewhere convenient to travel to from where you live.


Intermediate (Level 2)

Starting salary:

Those working on tugs receive a good salary based on the responsibilities of their job. There are unsocial hours and you will work a shift system with time off in lieu

Job roles:

Tug deck officer or Engineer officer, Deck rating or Engine rating, Tug master or Tug engineer, Merchant Navy deck officer, Merchant Navy engineering officer, Merchant Navy rating, Boatmaster, Workboat deckhand, Mate or skipper, Royal Navy rating, Sea fish deckhand

Issuing Authority:

Maritime Skills Alliance –