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How do I get a career at sea? The first thing is to actually get out on the water and to find out if it’s for you!


The Thames Marine Academy offers a 3 day sailing course with Albatross Sailing to the excellent cruising waters of the Essex Coast where you can learn about life at sea and discover if it works for you.  The sea is a challenging and at times physically exhausting environment in which to work – not for the faint-hearted.  As a trainee officer I recall being seasick in a chamber pot of a Royal Navy support vessel attempting to make a passage from Plymouth to Liverpool in rough seas off Cornwall.  Leaning over the bridge wing with thoughts of “what am I doing here?”  But then nothing was ever gained without commitment and hard work – 8 years later as Operations Officer of HMS Scylla I was one of only 2 officers capable of keeping a watch during the south west monsoon in the Indian Ocean whilst we ploughed through mountainous seas enroute to Mombasa from the Arabian Gulf (who planned that??).  Once you have been “bitten” by the bug of adventure and opportunity then you need to decide if you want to go deep sea, private yachts or the workboat industry.  These vocations require 3 different certificates of competence and commensurate experience – they are very different careers!

1. Deep Sea

2. Private Yachts

3. The Workboat Industry

Let’s examine these further…

deep sea

This is the route of an STCW Certificate of Competence (an International Driving Licence).  In short, you will ply the oceans of the world carrying various cargoes according to your experience between pilot stations.  The glitch is that time alongside is minimal so the opportunity to get ashore and experience the wonderful cultures of the world is limited.  Regrettably, the use of containers to replace break-bulk cargo and tanker terminals miles from civilisation has meant that the romantic image of the charismatic, drunken sailor ashore has long passed.  In short, great for saving money, but not the adventure it once was.  The best way to pursue a career deep sea is to gain a cadetship with a major company such as Maersk.  These companies will attend open days at marine colleges such as Warsash, Glasgow and South Shields where staff will provide guidance and support to young people.


A great way of earning a large sum of tax-free money, but a closed road since the certificates of competence for this sector of the industry are strictly applicable to the toys of the pseudo-rich.  If you follow this route then be prepared for 30 years of being a private chauffeur, but if you want sun, beautiful people and wonderful destinations then this may be for you.


This career has become the mainstay of those from western economies since due to the highly skilled nature of work it will pay the salaries necessary to ensure a decent standard of living with the opportunity to work abroad.  The Thames Marine Academy has established an apprenticeship scheme which delivers the training and qualifications to gain a rewarding career in this sector of the marine industry and courses which cover the subject content of MCA oral examinations.


Need advice or just to discuss options?  Please give me a call or send an email!  John Spencer and myself and have established the Thames Marine Academy with the express intent to help you achieve your personal ambition – just remember “you can”.

Be brave. Take risks. nothing can substitute experience

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