After officer cadet training 

Once you've gained your initial officer of the watch certification, you’ll be able to progress to more senior roles on board ship with further training and experience. It normally takes around five or six years to achieve these senior qualifications, and promotion will depend on merit and opportunity, as well as holding higher-level qualifications. 

Deck (navigation) officers 

Newly-qualified deck officers usually join their company’s fleet as a third officer. This role involves undertaking bridge watchkeeping duties at sea and operational duties in port, with responsibility for the safety of the crew, ship, cargo and environment. As their skills and experience develop, young officers progress to higher certificates of competency, leading eventually to certification as captain and possibly commanding their own vessel.   



Many opportunities also exist for qualified navigation officers ashore. Shipping companies often recruit shore-based marine superintendents and fleet operations staff from their seagoing officers. Harbour authorities recruit experienced officers to train as pilots, harbour masters and port operations managers. Classification societies, such as Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, and marine insurance companies require the skill and experience of ship's officers to fill roles such as hull and cargo surveyors. The MCA also requires surveyors and examiners, and maritime colleges recruit lecturers and assessors. 

Find out more about being a deck officer

Marine engineer officers 

Newly-qualified marine engineer officers will usually join their company’s fleet as a fourth engineer officer, undertaking engine room watchkeeping duties and having responsibility for the safe and efficient operation of the ship's main propulsion unit and other vital services. As their skills and experience develop, young officers progress to the higher certificates of competency, leading eventually to the chief engineer officer’s certificate and possibly to the position of chief engineer, in charge of all the engineering and technical services. 



Marine engineer officers acquire a range of transferable skills through professional development and experience which have many applications in jobs ashore, both related and unrelated to the marine industries. Shipping companies often recruit their shore-based engineering superintendents from seagoing staff, and classification societies and marine insurance companies recruit machinery surveyors from the same source. The MCA also requires surveyors and examiners, and maritime colleges recruit lecturers and assessors. 

Find out more about being a marine engineer officer

Marine electro-technical officers (METOs) 

Newly-qualified marine electro-technical officers will normally work within the engineering department, assisting the marine engineer officers with their specialist knowledge of control engineering and electronic systems, including propulsion control, radio communications and electronic navigation aids. Fault diagnostics and repair of a range of electrical and electronic equipment is a prime responsibility. 
 
METOs may have the opportunity to develop their careers along a professional electrical engineering path, perhaps leading to the rank of chief electro-technical officer, with overall responsibility for controlling engineering and electronic systems, chief technical officer or electrical superintendent (company dependent). 
 
METOs also gain a range of transferable skills through professional development and experience, which have many applications in jobs ashore, both related and unrelated to the marine industries. 

Find out more about being a marine electro-technical officer