Job type

Merchant Navy rating

£16k - £30k

Typical salary

37 – 55

Hours per week

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

More info

  • Work onboard a ship, helping out with the day-to-day running and maintenance
  • Opportunities to travel and build experience
  • Progress to become a petty officer or move on into junior officer roles

As a merchant Navy rating, you'll be responsible for the day-to-day running of a ship, from catering for onboard staff to cleaning the deck.


  • Loading and unloading cargo
  • Inspecting and cleaning holds, tanks, cranes and winches
  • Repairing and painting the ship's hull, fixtures and fittings
  • Testing fire-fighting and life-saving equipment
  • Carrying out routine mechanical and electrical maintenance
  • Monitoring equipment controls
  • Preparing meals in the galley and serving food and drinks
  • Cleaning cabins, corridors and decks
  • Tracking stock and re-ordering supplies


You'll travel often and spend nights away from home, and your work may take place in cramped conditions, at height and outdoors in all weathers. 

You'll need

For this role, you'll need the ability to work well with others, sensitivity and understanding, thoroughness and attention to detail, patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations, good initiative, excellent verbal communication skills, physical skills, and observation and recording skills.

You can get this job through an able seafarer (deck) intermediate apprenticeship or advanced apprenticeship in maritime occupations.

Direct application to shipping companies or the Royal Fleet Auxiliary is possible. Your training will combine college-based study with placements at sea to gain practical experience of working on a ship. The length of training depends on your sponsoring company. You'll need 3 or 4 GCSE grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in subjects like English, maths and physics, or combined science, or equivalent qualifications.

Employers will like if you have good practical skills, enthusiasm for the career and the potential to complete ratings training. Qualifications in catering, engineering, freight handling and/or navigation may also be useful.


With experience, you could progress through the ranks to leading hand, petty officer and chief petty officer. With the right skills and experience, you could take further training to join the junior officer ranks. You could also use your skills into onshore engineering or a hospitality and catering career.