Degree, Foundation Degree or HND?


As a qualified seafaring officer, you will be able to work worldwide on many types of ship. This can include but certainly not limited to; cruise ships, ferries, oil and chemical tankers, gas carriers, container ships, bulk carriers, naval and offshore support ships as well as many other specialised and unique ship types. I don’t profess to know much but I certainly hope to help you by using the experience I have from my trips away, hopefully providing an accurate account of life and work onboard.
There are two main departments in which you can train: Deck or Engineering. Deck Officers handle the navigation, communications, safety, cargo and overall management of the ship and the people on board. Engineering Officers operate and maintain all of the mechanical equipment throughout the ship. Additionally, you will find Electro-Technical Officers, dedicated to the electric and electronic equipment onboard.
In these roles, you will have control of some of the latest technological systems and be working with highly sophisticated machinery, depending on the age of the ship of course. Britain is still world renowned for it’s  training programmes.

There are 2 main routes you can go but both lead to a professional seafaring certification, known as the Officer of the Watch (OOW) Certificate. This will be your first step in becoming a Captain or Chief Engineer. There is a 3rd route that involves 4 years at university but you will still require a sponsor and the following information is just as applicable to you if that’s what you would like to pursue.

As well as academic learning you will have lots of practical training too…
Should you later decide to move from seagoing employment, your qualifications and experience will be in high demand in the thousands of land-based jobs that require the experience of qualified seafarers. The list of shore based jobs is vast, it’s not uncommon for a mariner to explore the jobs available on shore but many end up coming back, definitely a love hate relationship.
What will I study?
Degrees, Foundation Degrees and HNDs are designed with employers, and combine academic study with work place learning to equip people with relevant knowledge and skills to improve performance and productivity. Employees do not necessarily need formal qualifications to apply for a foundation degree/ HND as previous relevant work experience will be taken into account.

Recently there has been a surge in older cadets, I’m pleased by this because before now the cut off sponsor age was 27. Mature cadets are excellent, keen and often their age is a huge advantage. So if you are 30-40, reading this and still fancy giving it a go then as far as I know there is nothing to stop you.

Foundation degrees are awarded by universities and require equivalent standards of academic attainment as the second year of an honours degree. Admissions tutors are usually very happy to talk to prospective students about their suitability for the course. There are a range of Degrees, Foundation Degrees and HND’s available in the maritime sector, the ones that see you through to OOW are typically Marine Engineering for Engineering Officers and  Marine Operations or Nautical Studies for a Deck Officer but the exact title of your foundation degree will vary by college/university.
Foundation degrees are a qualification in their own right. However, after completing a foundation degree you can go on to study for an honours degree (this usually takes about a year). The Marine Society encourage this very much and if you cannot fund it yourself they offer a range of options to you to help with your further education. I will write about the Marine Society soon and they can be found here.
The Scottish education system is different and foundation degrees are not available through Scottish universities. However, you will be able to study an identical programme leading to equivalent Scottish qualifications and the OOW certification.
What will the training involve?
As I mentioned in my previous post on training, You will start by training at a nautical college or university with a residential phase, followed by a seagoing training phase. At sea you will put your learning into practice and you will work under the supervision of qualified officers (like me, God help you!!!). Your time will then alternate between college studies and training at sea.
Training lasts approximately three years and is paid for by the shipping company that sponsors you. Sea phases will be on a ship that could be trading anywhere in the world and your sponsoring company will arrange your transport to the relevant port to join the ship.
On completion of your foundation degree or HND and some additional OOW certification, you will be qualified as an officer. (God help us!!!)

On a Advanced Fire Fighting Course
Further training and experience will enable you to work through the ranks to senior officer and you could achieve the highest levels on board as Captain or Chief Engineer.
Are there entry requirements? 
Degree entry varies widely so I cannot comment  but generally speaking for an FD You will need:120 UCAS points in unspecified A Levels, Good grades at GCSE level in English, Maths and Physics (or Dual/Combined Science) is generally preferred but not essential, particularly if you are older or have relevant experience.

For a HND you will need a decent set of GCSEs, I’m afraid if you are a drop out looking  for an easy fix to see the world its not happening… we drive or fix ships and are responsible for each other, cargo and the ship and often a lot more, so free loaders need not apply.

Your sponsoring company will also have their own qualification requirements, but this can often be discussed at interview or over the phone with HR if you are worried.
you will find a list from my previous training post here.
How do I get funding?
Sponsorship for training is available from shipping companies and training organisations. Your course fees would be paid as well as a salary or training allowance. You need to apply directly to the shipping companies and training organisations. Don’t just go for the biggest pay pay… look for diversity in available ships and training opportunities.

I intend on writing a post on the required additional qualifications that are required to obtain the OOW certificate as soon as possible, hence a little taster with the fire fighting pictures which are just the tip of the ice berg.

I hope this helped.


This entry was posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2012 at 7:35 pm by The Mariner. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Leave a Comment...

You email address won't be made public

Comments (0)

No comments have been left yet. Be the first

%d bloggers like this: