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Merchant Navy deck officer

Merchant Navy deck officers look after the day-to-day running and navigation of ships, and take care of passengers and cargo.

Potential salary
£20,500 to £80,000
Working hours
52 to 54 variable
  • the ability to work well with others
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • observation and recording skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Your day-to-day tasks will depend on your rank:

  • as third officer, you'll be responsible for safety equipment and lifeboats
  • as second officer, you'll navigate the ship using radar, satellites, computers and weather reports
  • as chief officer, you'll manage other officers and handle financial, legal and commercial matters
  • as master or captain, you'll have overall responsibility for the efficient running of the ship and the safety of the crew, passengers and cargo

You may need to wear a uniform and protective clothing.

You could work on a ship.

Your working environment may be at height, outdoors in all weathers, cramped and you may spend nights away from home.

The Merchant Navy has clear progression routes through its ranks

You could find onshore and offshore positions with shipping companies, port authorities, maritime insurance companies and shipping brokers. Roles include logistics and fleet coordination, training and general management.

You could work for UK companies or for shipping companies based overseas.

You could also become a manager in other sectors.

You can find out more about becoming a Merchant Navy deck officer from Careers at Sea and the Royal Fleet Auxilliary.

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