Sail the seven seas

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 ‘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.

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 seafaring, boatbuilding, piloting, marine operations and more.

The Apprenticeship Guide sector head

Able seafarer

“An able seafarer works as part of the navigation department on ships and other vessels, keeping watch and maintaining safety and security, and carrying out a range of practical tasks”


“A boatbuilder constructs boats such as yachts, workboats and superyachts, and refits and repairs existing boats” A boatbuilder constructs yachts, workboats and superyachts and refits and repairs existing boats. As

Marina and boatyard operative

“A marina and boatyard operative delivers a variety of operations and services that include vessel handling such as lifting, launching, high pressure washing off and the storage of vessels ashore”

Marine engineer

“A marine engineer designs and oversees testing, installation, and repair of marine apparatus and equipment” A marine engineer works on boats such as yachts, commercial craft and superyachts. In this

Marine pilot

“A marine pilot safely navigates 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

Marine surveyor

“A marine surveyor independently verifies 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,

Marine technical superintendent

“A marine technical superintendent is 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

Maritime mechanic

“A maritime mechanic works from engineering drawings, data and documentation in order to undertake testing, fault diagnosis and maintenance” A maritime mechanic is employed in the Royal Navy and Merchant

Maritime occupations

“Maritime occupations involves working aboard a vessel or at port, supporting the efficient and safe operation of maritime vehicles and equipment” The maritime sector offers a range of opportunities for

Maritime operations officer

“A maritime operations officer carries out activities required to effectively respond to maritime emergencies” A maritime operations officer works for the Coastguard, which is responsible for initiating and coordinating maritime

Port marine operations officer

“A port marine operations officer assists in ensuring the safe transit and handling of vessels into and out of the port” The port marine operations team assists in ensuring the

Workboat crewmember

“A workboat crewmember works on a wide variety of specialist vessels” As a workboat crewmember, usually along with two to three personnel, you’ll work on a variety of specialist vessels,