Opportunities for Ratings

Ratings is a general term for skilled seafarers who carry out support work for officers in all departments. The work involves a wide range of tasks essential to the safe operation and maintenance of the ship.


Deck Ratings steer the ship, keep watch and assist the Navigation (Deck) Officer in a range of navigational, operational and cargo duties. In port, you would secure the ship to the dock, carry out maintenance and contribute to the security of the vessel.

Engine Room Ratings are responsible for maintaining shipboard machinery through routine oiling, greasing and servicing, stripping, repairing and fitting equipment parts and assisting engineering officers monitor the smooth and safe running of the main plant (ship’s engine) and other essential equipment.

Catering, Hospitality and Onboard Services Ratings perform a variety of jobs in the ship’s kitchen, restaurants, bars and mess rooms (crew canteen and social space). On passenger vessels, they sort bedding and upkeep passenger accommodation. On non-passenger vessels the Catering Rating will likely be the Ship's Cook or Cook/Steward, feeding and taking care of the entire ship's complement.

To become one of these skilled seafarers you need to be passionate about going to sea. You'll be motivated and willing to learn new skills in order to work as part of a team. Accepting responsibility, working unsupervised and getting on well with others will also come naturally.

The work of Deck or Engine Room Ratings is mainly practical, so you'll need manual dexterity to operate technical equipment you will be working on.

Find out about Rating Seafarer Grades and specific job roles


What Grades or qualifications do I need?

There is no minimum academic standard for entering the industry as a Rating but a minimum of three GCSEs or Scottish standard grades is preferred. This shows you've got the potential to obtain your professional maritime qualifications. To begin a career at sea, you'll need to satisfy some basic physical health and fitness standards, including eyesight.


Seaman Grade 1 (Able Seafarer)

A member of the deck crew may be referred to as Able Seafarer, Ordinary seafarer or Trainee Rating. Duties include deck and accommodation patrols, steering the vessel, standing lookout and assisting the officer on watch. They also moor and unmoor the vessel in ports, secure/unsecure cargo, as well as cleaning and maintaining the deck.

As the most senior and experienced rating, Seaman Grade 1 can have foreman-like responsibilities. These duties would include directly supervising maintenance operations and allocating tasks. Others at this level may be qualified to work on the deck or engineering side, and are classed as 'General Purpose Ratings.'

What you'll need

An Able Seafarer's Certificate. You receive this once you've served the required amount of time at sea, got your Efficient Deck Hand Certificate and taken further professional and safety training.

Seaman Grade 2 (Ordinary Seaman)

A member of the deck crew may also be referred to as Able Seafarer, Ordinary seafarer/seaman or Trainee Rating. They carry out similar tasks to Seaman Grade 1 while they gain experience.

What you'll need

A Navigational Watch Rating certificate. For this you'll have spent a minimum time at sea and received professional and safety training

Trainee Rating (Junior Ordinary Seafarer)

Trainee Ratings learns the role of Seaman Grades 1 and 2, while working towards the Navigational Watch Rating Certificate