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Merchant Navy rating

Alternative titles for this job include

Merchant Navy ratings carry out a wide range of jobs to help the day-to-day running of a ship.

Average salary (a year)

£13,500 Starter


£28,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

53 to 55 variable

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays away from home

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Merchant Navy rating

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


You can get into this job through an able seafarer (deck) intermediate apprenticeship.

Through this apprenticeship you can become a rating in one of the following areas:

  • deck
  • engine room
  • maritime catering

You can apply directly to shipping companies who advertise vacancies throughout the year.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More Information

Direct Application

You can apply directly to shipping companies or the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Your training will combine college-based study with placements at sea to get practical experience of working on a ship. The length of training depends on your sponsoring company.

You'll need 3 to 4 GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in subjects like English, maths and physics, or combined science, or equivalent qualifications.

Employers will expect you to have good practical skills, enthusiasm for the career and the potential to complete ratings training.

You may also find it useful if you have qualifications and experience in:

  • catering
  • engineering
  • freight handling
  • navigation

More Information

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a Merchant Navy rating from Careers at Sea.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • problem-solving skills
  • observation and recording skills
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

  • pass a medical check

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

You could:

  • load and unload cargo
  • inspect and clean holds, tanks, cranes and winches
  • repair and paint the ship's hull, fixtures and fittings
  • test fire-fighting and life-saving equipment
  • carry out routine mechanical and electrical maintenance
  • monitor equipment controls
  • prepare meals in the galley and serve food and drinks
  • clean cabins, corridors and decks
  • track stock and re-order supplies

Working environment

You could work on a ship.

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

You may need to wear a uniform and safety clothing and use safety equipment.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

You could move up through the Merchant Navy ranks of leading hand, petty officer and chief petty officer. With the necessary skills and experience, you could take further training to join the junior officer ranks.

You could also use your skills to move into onshore engineering or a hospitality and catering career.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Seafarer Deck Rating Apprentice – Marine

  • Wage: £15,000 a year Annually
  • Location: Marine Parade, Southampton

Seafarer Deck Rating Apprentice – Marine

  • Wage: £15,000 a year Annually
  • Location: C/o Drayton House, Drayton Lane, Oving, Chichester, West Sussex

Courses In England

Engineering Shipping and Maritime Operations - Level 3

  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: Fleetwood

Marine Engineering (Marine School)

  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: South Shields

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