To work at sea as a Deck Officer, Engineer Officer or Electro-Technical Officer, at the very least, one needs an Officer of the Watch Certificate of Competency. Some choose the professional route, obtaining the necessary certificates and training on their own.
Alternatively, one can choose to enrol in a cadet training program at a maritime college and earn a degree or diploma in their desired specialty, also earning the required Officer of the Watch Certificate of Competency.
Cadet training programs provide a college solution that combine academics with sea time that result in a degree or diploma. Various colleges around the world offer a wide range of maritime training and education that include cadetship in deck, engineering or electro-technical. How does a Cadet Program? How does one qualify and apply for such a training program? Which cruise lines sponsor cadets? Here are some answers about cruise ship cadet training programs.
How a Cadet Programme Works
Maritime colleges offer a basic mix of academic time within the college, coupled with sea time. But, depending on the college and the type of cadet program, the length of time spent at college and the time spent at sea will vary.
A typical programme may start with 20 to 30 weeks of college courses and training followed by 19 to 30 weeks of sea time. The cadet returns to college for another 22 to 48 weeks of study followed by 23 to 58 weeks of sea time. During the final 15 to 43 weeks the cadet completes more courses and assignments then prepares for their oral examinations.
Once the cadetship is completed, the candidate is awarded their Diploma or Degree along with their Certificate of Competency. At that time, the candidate may apply as a Third Officer or Third Engineer, possibly with one of the cruise lines that they worked for during their cadetship.
Here are the three different academic options depending on which type of cruise ship officer you would like to be:
Academic Required for Deck Officer
HND or Foundation Degree in Nautical Studies / Marine Operations
Once qualified with the Officer of the Watch Certificate of Competency (OOW/D), the candidate will be able to keep a ‘watch’ and could be in sole charge of an ocean-going ship for at least eight hours each day. To continue to expand their knowledge, experience and competence, they may eventually gain a Certificate of Competency as a Master Mariner.
Academic Required for Engineering Officer
HND or Foundation Degree in Marine Engineering
A little over three years after commencing training, the candidate will be ready to take up an appointment as an engineering watchkeeping officer in an ocean-going ship. After obtaining the Officer of the Watch Certificate of Competency (OOW/E), they will continue to expand their knowledge, experience and competence, eventually qualifying as Second Engineer and then Chief Engineer.
Academic Required for Electro-Technical Officer
HND or Foundation Degree in Marine Electrical/Electronic Engineering
After about three years of training, including sea time, the candidate will be able to take a contract as an Electro-Technical Officer. After they gain their Officer of the Watch Certificate of Competency (OOW/ETO), career progression as an ETO depends on the cruise line you join. There are no further qualifications required for ETOs, so seniority is commensurate with experience.
Entry Requirements for Cadet Programmes
The following entry qualifications are needed as the industry minimum but individual sponsoring companies may require a higher standard.
Foundation Degree (A Level or equivalent)
• A minimum of 120 UCAS tariff points, preferably including a numerate subject
• Mathematics (preferably Higher Tier) with Plus GCSE grade C or above
• English with Plus GCSE grade C or above
• Science (with significant content of Physical Science) with Plus GCSE grade C or above
Higher National Diploma (GCSE Level or equivalent)
• Mathematics (preferably Higher Tier) with GCSE Grade C or above
• Science (with significant content of Physical Science) with GCSE Grade C or above
• English or a subject using English (ie, history, geography, RE) with GCSE Grade C or above
• One other course with GCSEs Grade C or above
Tips to Get a Cruise Ship Job as a Cadet
Based on the competitive nature of gaining a cadetship with a sponsoring company, high academic marks or additional “Pre-cadet” courses, show companies that you are serious and prepared to succeed.
For example, the South Shields Marine School offers a Marine Pre-Cadetship. It is a one-year combined deck and engineering programme that offers the candidate a Level 3 Diploma in Shipping and Maritime Operations. The programme gives the applicant a head start by equipping them with the maturity and experience expected of a cadet. There is no fee for candidates that are 16 to 18 years old. If you are over 18, then the fee is £1320.
For more information, read Cruise Line Sponsored Cadetships giving details on a handful of cruise lines that sponsor a select number of applicants for cadetships on their vessels.