Careers At Sea


‘Ratings’ is a general term for a wide variety of skilled seafarers in support roles in all departments, the work can involve a wide range of tasks essential to the safe operation and maintenance of the ship.

There are several routes you can take to become a Rating, depending on the area you decide to work in. You can get paid to train through an apprenticeship, or use your current skills and experience needed for a variety of hospitality services.

There is no minimum academic standard for entering the industry as a Rating, but some companies may ask to see a minimum of three GCSEs or Scottish standard grades. This shows you’ve got the potential to obtain your professional maritime qualifications. To begin a career at sea you will be required to pass a Seafarer Medical Certificate (visit the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) website for more info) and complete basic STCW certificates (short course safety training) for each role. Some companies will provide these as part of your training so check what is required before you apply or start taking courses. A full list of MCA approved courses can be found on their website.

Below are some examples of Ratings roles on board ship:

Deck Rating

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 Rating

Spending the required time working at sea and completing professional and safety training leads to the Engine Room Watch Rating Certificate. To get the Able Seafarer (Engine Room) Certificate, Engine Room Ratings will have performed various job roles in the Engine Room department.

Hospitality and Onboard Services (OBS) Rating

Like the idea of working in a prestigious hotel, but one that floats on water? Modern cruise ships and passenger ferries could be just the ticket. Specific roles vary but having relevant qualifications and experience in any of the following are available on board: administration, receptionist, a waiter, chef, bar staff, cleaner, steward, porter, a DJ, hairdresser, entertainer, personal trainer, doctor, nurse, photographer, retail assistant, childcare assistant…the opportunities go on!

Rating Apprentice

This can be a rewarding opportunity, where by you are paid to train on board ships by experienced professionals and take time to study at a college. Apprenticeships usually last around 18-24 months, however this can vary.

There are currently three Rating Apprenticeships; you can choose a deck, engine room or maritime caterer apprenticeship depending on what interests you. 

See how to apply for ratings apprenticeships here