Boatmaster apprenticeship

Boatmaster apprenticeship

For anybody who wants to work on vessels operating on inland waterways and limited distances to sea, the Boatmaster apprenticeship pathway is an excellent way into the industry.

As an apprentice, you will be working as a key member of the crew, assisting the Master of the vessel with navigation, steering and lookout; management of passengers and cargo; operating and maintaining deck gear; and assisting with mooring.

You will help to ensure the vessel is kept clean, tidy and ‘shipshape’. On some vessels you may be encouraged to develop your interest in engineering through active assistance in undertaking routine maintenance tasks.

Career opportunities – you can continue your career along the deck route by progressing to mate and then onto master once you have achieved the relevant statutory qualifications. You might wish to operate your own small boat and become qualified as master of a vessel carrying less than 12 passengers, or else pursue the engineering option.

If you wish you can move into related maritime industries such as the Merchant Navy, sea fishing, offshore support and tug boat work. These industries recognise the expertise you have gained while working in the inland waterways sector and may provide you with further opportunities to develop your career.

Location – There are vessels operating on most navigable inland waterways and from coastal ports including limited distances to sea. It is likely you would chose somewhere convenient to travel to from where you live. It is often the case once you are nearing completion of the qualification that your employer will offer you a permanent position. But with your qualification you can work anywhere on inland waterways and in some cases elsewhere within the European Community.

Vacancies – For current vacancies: Contact Watermen’s Company (T: 0207 283 2373)


Intermediate (Level 2)

Starting salary:

Those working on inland waterways receive a good salary based on the responsibilities of their job. There are unsocial hours and many operate a shift system

Job roles:

Mate, Master, Merchant Navy Deck officer, Merchant Navy engineering officer, Merchant Navy rating, Inshore tug deckhand, Royal Navy rating, Sea fishing deckhand, mate or skipper

Issuing Authority:

Maritime Skills Alliance –