Scott with drill

Choose your role

Want to get away from humdrum jobs? Then a career at sea could offer the excitement and variety you crave. But before you start applying to companies, it’s important to consider what type of ship you’d like to train and work on – to make sure you get the right fit for you. There are lots of merchant ships to choose from. They include modern ferries, container ships, luxury cruise liners, oil, large commercial yachts, gas and chemical tankers – as well as support vessels for the offshore exploration industry.

Whichever maritime path – and role – you take, a unique way of life packed with challenges and responsibilities awaits.


With over 90% of goods coming in and out of the UK by sea, merchant ships are a vital national industry.


The main roles on board are Ships Officers and Ratings. Officers supervise and manage everything to do with running and maintaining the ship, carrying cargo and passengers. When you first enrol as a trainee you’ll generally work in one of the following departments: Navigation (Deck) or Engineering & Electro-Technical – mixing academic study with practical training at college or university, and at sea.

Ratings work under officers in all departments – carrying out essential tasks in the day-to-day running of the ship.


Did you know?

You can recognise the various ranks in the Merchant Navy by the epaulettes: ornamental shoulder pieces or decoration worn on the uniform. Used to identify Officers from Ratings, each insignia is worn with pride across every department.