- Can I apply if I'm not from Europe?
- Can I get sponsorship if I am from Europe?
- Do I have to meet the academic requirements?
- How do I apply?
- How long is the training?
- What are the eyesight requirements?
- What are the medical requirements?
- What if I do not have the qualifications?
- What if I want to work on a cruise ship?
- What if I've already got a degree?
- What is the application process?
- What qualifications do I need?
- What should I do before I apply?
- Where can I find college and university information?
- Where can I find the sponsoring company information?
- Will I be accepted if I am in the Royal Navy, am a mechanical engineer or have other similar expertise?
Can I apply if I'm not from Europe? (back to top)
Sponsorship is normally only available to EU citizens living in the UK. We suggest that you should apply within your own country to join the Merchant Navy.
Can I get sponsorship if I am from Europe? (back to top)
Sponsorship from UK companies is available for EU citizens ordinarily resident in the UK (you must be able to provide a UK address you have lived at for 'about a year'). You will also need to have the required levels of English, Maths and Physics/Combined or Dual Science, as per the 'what qualifications do I need' question.
Do I have to meet the academic requirements? (back to top)
Yes, this would usually be a requirement for you to be enrolled onto the course. The courses all have a high maths and science based content so knowledge of these subjects is essential. However, you may have other qualifications or expertise that could be taken into consideration and you would need to highlight this very strongly in your letter of application to sponsoring companies.
How do I apply? (back to top)
You apply direct to the shipping companies, who sponsor Trainee Officers for the duration of the training course. For a list of shipping companies to apply to go to go our sponsoring companies page. You can apply at any point throughout the year and there are usually two intakes a year, usually between August and January.
How long is the training? (back to top)
The duration of your training depends on your chosen discipline and the course you are doing (i.e degree or HNC/HND. Deck Officer rainees will take between 3 and 3½ years to complete training; Engineer and Electro Technical Officer trainees will take about 3 years to complete.
What are the eyesight requirements? (back to top)
For exact details of the eyesight requirements of the ENG1 medical exam you should contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, who issue the guidelines. They will also be able to give details of approved opticians in your area so that, if you wish, you can take the test before applying to shipping companies. Their contact details are as follows:
Tel: 02380 329247 and ask for seafarer standards and certification branch
What are the medical requirements? (back to top)
You have to be able to meet the seafarers medical and eyesight requirements. For exact details of the ENG1 medical exam (as it is called) you should contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, who issue the guidelines. They will also be able to give you details of approved doctors so that, if you wish, you can take the test before applying to sponsoring companies. Some companies may arrange the medical for you if they are looking to offer you sponsorship. MCA contact details are as follows:
Tel: 02380 329247 and ask for seafarer standards and certification branch
What if I do not have the qualifications? (back to top)
See 'do I have to meet the academic requirements?' You may also wish to consider training as a rating (the support staff on board) and for this you will need to show the potential to achieve the ratings qualifications. However, there are only a few companies that currently take on small numbers of ratings. These are:
- Bibby Ship Management
- Royal Fleet Auxiliary
- Carnival UK
- Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Click here for company information
What if I want to work on a cruise ship? (back to top)
There are many different jobs aboard a cruise ship, which is run along the lines of a large hotel. The 'technical' seafaring jobs are Deck officer, Engineering officer and Electro-Technical officer. You would usually need to attend a 3 year training course (or thereabouts), which is provided by the shipping company.
The 'Hotel Services' roles include pursers/receptionists, restaurant and bar staff, cruise directors, entertainers, beauticians, shop staff, childcare and more. For these jobs you will need relevant experience/qualifications in that area. For details on vacancies available and the exact entry requirements please contact cruise companies direct. You can research these online through Google and you can see some of them on our sponsoring companies page.
What if I want to do catering? (back to top)
The only company that offers catering training is the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (who provides support services for the Royal Navy). They take on around 12 trainees per year and the requirements are a minimum of Grade D in Maths & English GCSE and some evidence of interest in catering. For more details please contact the RFA direct.
Those companies that require a range of catering support services are the cruise ships and passenger ferries. Specific roles vary from company to company but prior qualifications and experience in the catering industry are necessary. Therefore, you will need to achieve catering qualifications first of all followed by experience of working in a large hotel or restaurant.
For exact details of the entry requirements for catering work on board these ships, you should contact the companies direct. . You can research these online through Google and you can see some of them on our sponsoring companies page.
What if I've already got a degree? (back to top)
Unless you have completed a Mechanical Engineering degree (or similar) and you wish to become an Engineer Officer there will not really be any transferable qualifications at degree level. However the skills you have picked up during your professional life will be extremely transferable and may aide your application form to shipping companies.
What is the application process? (back to top)
Sponsoring companies may encourage you to apply online while others will need you to apply to them in writing. You will need to decide whether you wish to train as a Navigation (Deck) Officer or Engineer Officer. There are also some places for Electro-Technical Officers. Look at the list of companies for contact details - they will advise you on their requirements. If they do not have online applications they will usually send you an information pack containing their application form.
You do not need to wait for your academic results before applying, as recruitment may be possible anything up to one year in advance of beginning the course and there are multiple entry dates, usually September and January and possibly March/April. If you meet the company's initial requirements you will be invited for an interview. For a list of shipping companies to apply to visit the shipping companies page.
What qualifications do I need? (back to top)
The main entry route for Officer Training is the 3 year Foundation Degree-based programme or Professional Diploma in Scotland, which is 'A' level /Highers entry and requires 120 UCAS points in unspecified 'A' levels/Highers. You will also be expected to have good grades in GCSE or Standard grades English, Maths, Physics/Combined Science. However there is also the HNC/HND route which requires GCSE Grades A-C/Scottish Standard grades at levels 1-3 in English, Maths, a Science based subject and at least one other subject.
What should I do before I apply? (back to top)
You should research as much as you can into the sponsoring companies and types of ships that you could be working on and apply to the ones that interest you the most. Click here for company information.
You can apply to as many of the companies as you wish; competition for places is increasing so to keep your options open you might want to apply to all those that you are interested in.
Where can I find college and university information? (back to top)
To become a merchant seafarer in the UK you need to undergo specialist training to achieve professional seafaring certification and educational qualifications. A part of this takes place at sea, and in specialist colleges and universities. The sponsoring companies usually arrange this once they have agreed to take you on. They will discuss which would be the most suitable college or university for you. You can also apply through UCAS for the degree courses, but you would still need to apply to sponsoring companies for sponsorship as that is how you will get the 'sea time' component of the course.
Where can I find the sponsoring company information? (back to top)
The following companies and organisations offer sponsorship opportunities. Applications are accepted all year. The main intakes are for the Autumn and Spring terms, see our sponsoring companies page for more.
Will I be accepted if I am in the Royal Navy, am a mechanical engineer or have other similar expertise? (back to top)
Possibly, although you will need to gain sponsorship from a shipping company. However, you first need to contact the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, giving details (and copies) of the qualifications you have already gained and your areas of expertise and whether you wish to apply for the deck or engineering department. The MCA will advise whether any of your qualifications and expertise is transferable and the additional qualifications and sea time you now need to acquire. You will need to ask them for a Letter of Initial Assessment. MCA contact details are as follows:
Tel: 02380 329231 and ask for seafarer standards and certification branch