Rule the waves with an apprenticeship

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 transports 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 ‘driving’ 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.

There are seven apprenticeships in this sector. New for this year is the marine engineer apprenticeship, which will train you 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 seafaring, boatbuilding, piloting, marine operations and more.

Interests and skills

Consider a career in marine if you enjoy being on or around water, have a desire to travel or have good practical and technical skills.

School subjects

The school subjects that may prepare you for an apprenticeship in marine include:

  • PE
  • Science
  • Geography
Further reading

To find out more about apprenticeships in marine, visit:

Apprenticeships in Marine

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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

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Boatmaster apprenticeship

For anybody who wants to work on vessels operating on inland waterways and limited distances to sea, the Boatmaster apprenticeship

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Marinas and boatyards apprenticeships

Marinas and boatyards are busy places where boats have to be moved, moored and lifted for maintenance safely and following

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Merchant Navy (deck or engineering)

The Advanced Level Merchant Navy (deck or engineering) apprenticeship is an excellent progression pathway if you are already working in

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Port operations apprenticeship

Port operations covers the work that goes on in sea, river and inland waterway ports, harbours, quays, terminals, wharves, jetties,

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Seafishing apprenticeship

The Seafishing apprenticeship pathway is an excellent way into the industry for anybody who wants to work on fishing vessels. You

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Workboat operations apprenticeship

Specialist workboats are used for a whole host of activities that support the marine industry. They operate as landing craft,

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