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How to apply for an officer cadetship

cadet-cap-400pxIf you wish to undertake an officer cadetship and you meet the necessary entry criteria, the next step is to apply direct to a shipping company to sponsor you (do not apply to us or through UCAS), so that you can complete the sea service elements of the training programme.

There are a number of UK sponsoring companies that recruit UK/EU nationals as officer cadets to work in the various shipping sectors of the merchant navy (eg, cargo, container, cruise, tanker etc). These are either individual shipping companies recruiting to fulfil their own staffing needs or training organisations that recruit on behalf of their clients.

Where to start

You must apply direct to the shipping companies or their training management agencies for details of their recruitment policies and the availability of sponsorship.

View a list of sponsoring shipping companies. 

We do recommend you fully research individual shipping companies' websites to learn about the types of vessels they operate, and what type of ship you might like to work on.

Our intake months are in January and September. Companies normally start the recruitment process around January each year for entry in the following September or January. Shipping companies or their training management representatives conduct their communication and interview process directly with applicants.

Come to our next open day to find out more about a career at sea and speak to the sponsoring shipping companies.

Academic entry requirements

You'll need to meet the relevant academic requirements for entry on to the specific officer cadet training programmes.

Medical requirements

Officer cadets must have good health and be capable of passing the Merchant Navy medical examination (ENG1).  Navigating officer cadets must also have normal colour vision and be able to pass the MCA sight test, although corrective lenses may be acceptable in some cases.

Anybody contemplating a career as a ship’s officer would be well advised to take a medical examination and sight test as soon as possible to find out if there are any physical bars to their career aspirations.

The MCA holds a list of approved doctors throughout the UK who are able to provide ENG1 seafarer medical examinations.

Age limits for entry

The minimum age is 16 and companies may vary the upper age limit according to their own individual policies


British shipping companies will normally only recruit UK or European Union nationals. However, MCA certificates of competency may be awarded to people of any nationality and the training programmes are open to all. 

If you're a potential international candidate from outside the UK and EU you should secure sponsorship from one of your own country's shipping lines (approved by the MCA).

International students should also hold a formal International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate of at least 5.5, as a good knowledge of written and spoken technical English is required to enrol on the officer cadet programme.

Superyacht cadetship

We have introduced a new officer cadet training programme specifically tailored to the superyacht industry. The programme follows the Merchant Navy deck officer cadet foundation degree route, with the fundamental MCA underpinning knowledge units such as bridge watchkeeping, chartwork, ship stability and cargo work, but includes additional superyacht specific units such as superyacht operations, paint care and hospitality. The academic entry requirements are the same as the Merchant Navy cadetship programme, and sponsorship is available to students who wish to enrol. For more information visit the Warsash Superyacht Academy website.

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