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Specialist Skills Required for Seafarers

Working on a seagoing ship is going to require some academic and theoretical qualifications. Besides that, other seafarer skills and training are an essential and integral part of getting a job at sea.

Check what attributes and certifications you will need to work at sea. Information in this help guide overviews the training and certificates required for ratings and officers.

You will need to pass a certain amount of training to work on a seagoing vessel (e.g. a ship or a yacht).

Apart from needing a certain amount of experience at sea, you must also meet certain other requirements, including:

Note: The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) came into full force on in August 2014 in the United Kingdom. The MLC sets out minimum standards on seafarer working and living rights.

How to Get Seafarer Training

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) produce guidance notes on training for seafarers. It includes career information, written and oral exam syllabuses, and extra details for nautical colleges and training centres.

A different guide explains fishing certification and training you would need to work on a fishing vessel. As a rule, there will be additional and special training required by ratings and officers for work on tankers, high-speed craft (e.g. hovercraft) and passenger ships.

Training to become Engineer Officer of the Watch

The completion of MSF 4352 (letter of initial assessment) leads to the issue of a notice of eligibility for engineers.

You must apply for a letter of initial assessment before beginning your training as an engineer officer of the watch (EOOW). An exception may apply for people enrolled in the approved cadetship.

Note: You should allow a period up to twelve (12) weeks for you to get a letter of initial assessment (LIA).

How to Apply for Seafarer Certificates

Depending what you want to work as, you would need to download the relevant application forms for certificates, such as:

  • Apply for able seafarer certificates, STCW watch ratings, and yacht ratings. The guides also provide further information on gaining an efficient deck hand certificate.
  • Becoming a deck or engineer officer (includes master or chief mate in charge of a vessel).
  • Guidance for initial application and revalidation for Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) operator logbooks and supervisor or instructor endorsements.
  • Guidance on gaining or revalidating an endorsement for a Global Maritime Distress and Safety System certificate for working at sea as a radio operator on UK vessels.

Applying for Certificates of Equivalent Competency (CEC) is a process for seafarers who qualified outside of the United Kingdom. As a rule, being in possession of a CEC means you can serve on a UK-flagged vessel.

MCA Help: Training to be a Seafarer

The cost of certification fees vary, according to each individual situation. For example, it depends on whether you will be sitting exams or only getting certificates revalidated.

You can contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to get further information on seafarer training and skills.

MCA Helpline
0300 123 1142
Check call charges.

Seafarer Skills and Training System in United Kingdom