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Training schemes

To become a navigation, engineer or electro-technical officer in the merchant navy in the UK, you must complete a maritime education and training programme to achieve professional seafaring certification and related educational qualifications, with training taking place at sea and at college.

All officer cadet training programmes are sponsored by a number of shipping companies and other organisations. The sponsorship covers the cost of course tuition fees and provides a salary or training allowance to officer cadets throughout their training. See How to Apply for more details.

Officer cadet training programme

Officer cadet training typically lasts for three years and the programmes consist of a number of training phases, alternating between time at the academy and time at sea on board one of the shipping company’s vessels. The detailed course programmes are outlined in our officer cadet training brochure, but a brief summary of officer cadet training is as follows: 

Year 1 – phase one

Training starts at the academy and is designed to give officer cadets the necessary skills and academic underpinning knowledge (UPK) required for professional certification by the MCA and to operate safely at sea. Officer cadets must also complete specific safety training courses required by international convention.

Year 1 – phase two

Training takes place at sea to gain practical shipboard experience. Deck officer cadets will work alongside ratings and under the supervision of qualified officers, developing practical navigation and other ship operation skills. Engineer and ETO cadets will learn from qualified engineering and electro-technical officers who'll help them put their academic theory into practice.

Years 2 and 3 – phases three, four and five

Training alternates between shore-based studies for underpinning knowledge and specialist short courses, and work at sea for professional development. Greater responsibility is given as training progresses. Phase five concludes the final exams and assessments required to complete the cadetship training.

The professional and academic qualifications you'll gain

All of the programmes lead to professional certification by the MCA and, depending on the chosen route, one of the following academic awards:

Deck officer cadets

  • Foundation Degree (FdSc) Marine Operations
  • Higher National Diploma (HND) Nautical Science

Engineer officer cadets

  • Foundation Degree (FdEng) Marine Engineering
  • Higher National Diploma (HND) Marine Engineering

Marine electro-technical cadets

  • Foundation Degree (FdEng) Marine Electrical and Electronic Engineering. 

These qualifications fulfil the academic requirements for the award of the MCA Certificate of Competency as Officer of the Watch (OOW) for deck/engineer officers; and for METOs, the award of METO certification, following an MCA oral exam.

The Foundation Degree and HND qualifications also provide the underpinning knowledge for the higher grade certificates of competency (chief mate and master or second engineer and chief engineer).

Honours degree 'top-up'

Upon successful completion of the Foundation Degree or HND programme, you'll also have the opportunity to top-up your academic qualification to an honours degree.

Our open day

Find out more and come along to our careers at sea open day. You can meet some of the sponsoring shipping companies and recruitment specialists, as well as take a look at our facilities, watch careers presentations and talk to the officer cadets studying at Warsash.