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Officer cadet recruitment

There are a number of sponsoring companies that recruit 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.

If you wish to undertake an officer cadetship and meet the associated entry requirements (as detailed below), the next step is to find a company to sponsor you so that you can complete the sea service elements of the training programme.

Companies normally start the recruitment process around January each year for entry in the following September or January.

How to apply

You should apply direct to the sponsoring companies (not Warsash or through UCAS) for details of their recruitment policies and the availability of sponsorship.

Academic entry requirements

The minimum academic entry requirements to be considered for officer cadet training is four GCSEs at grade C or above. Please see the officer cadet training careers section for a detailed summary of academic requirements for entry on to the specific training programmes.

Medical requirements

Officer cadets must be in 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.

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.  An international candidate from outside the UK and EU should secure sponsorship from one of their own country's shipping lines and be approved by the UK MCA.  International students should also hold a formal IELTS (International English Language Testing System) certificate of at least 5.5, as a good knowledge of written and spoken technical English is required to enter on to the programme.