1. Home: Explore careers
  2. Port operative

Port operative

Alternative titles for this job include Stevedore, port worker, passenger operations worker

Port operatives work with cargo, passengers and marine craft in ports and harbours.

Average salary (a year)

£16,000 Starter


£27,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

43 to 45 a week

You could work

days / nights / weekends on shifts

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Port operative

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


You could start by doing a port operative intermediate apprenticeship.

This apprenticeship typically takes 12 months to complete.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

More Information

Direct Application

You could apply directly for cargo jobs if you've got experience in warehouse work, operating mobile cranes or using forklift trucks.

You could also work in passenger operations if you have experience in customer service or travel.

More Information

Further information

You can find out more about working in ports and harbours from Port Skills and Safety.

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 operate and control equipment
  • the ability to work well with others
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • observation and recording skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

  • pass a medical check
  • have forklift truck driver training for some jobs

Your employer will put you through port safety training.

It may be useful to have a full driving licence for cargo roles.

What you’ll do

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

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a port operative or stevedore you could:

  • load and unload cargo containers, using ship or dockside cranes
  • transfer cargoes to storage areas with trailers or forklift trucks
  • operate conveyors and pumps for bulk cargoes like grain, coal and oil

As a passenger worker, you could:

  • help passengers to get on and off boats and ferries
  • give out travel information, like sailing times or weather conditions
  • check travel documents
  • direct vehicles to and from parking bays aboard vessels

In marine operations, you would:

  • refuel vessels
  • place marker buoys in the harbour
  • navigate craft and operate VHF radio and radar equipment

Working environment

You could work at a port or at a marina.

Your working environment may be physically demanding.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

You could be promoted to foreperson or supervisor, and then move on to become a superintendent or operations manager. You could take further training to specialise in engineering to maintain the heavy machinery used in ports.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a Port operative right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

CPCS A16 Industrial Forklift - Novice Course

  • Start date: 29 July 2024
  • Location: Bridgwater

Jobs In the United Kingdom

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

Skills assessment

Take an assessment to learn more about your skills and the careers that might suit you.

Is this page useful?

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback.

Thank you for your feedback. Click here if you'd like to let us know how we can improve the service.