Ship and hovercraft officers


Average Annual Pay

Annual Survey of Hours and Earning 2018


Average Weekly Hours

Annual Survey of Hours and Earning 2018


Unemployment Rate

Labour Force Survey 2018

Future employment projections (Working Futures UK)


Ship and hovercraft officers command and navigate ships and other craft, co-ordinate the activities of officers and deck and engine room ratings, operate and maintain communications equipment on board ship and undertake minor repairs to engines, boilers and other mechanical and electrical equipment.


Entrants usually possess GCSEs/S grades and A levels/H grades. Good colour vision without spectacles or contact lenses is required for some posts and candidates must undergo a medical examination. Training lasts three to four years and combines taught courses and assessed training at sea.

Typical tasks

  • allocates duties to ship’s officers and co-ordinates and directs the activities of deck and engine room ratings;
  • directs or undertakes the operation of controls to inflate air cushions, run engines and propel and steer ships, hovercraft and other vessels;
  • locates the position of vessel using electronic and other navigational aids such as charts and compasses and advises on navigation where appropriate;
  • monitors the operation of engines, generators and other mechanical and electrical equipment and undertakes any necessary minor repairs;
  • maintains radio contact with other vessels and coast stations;
  • prepares watch keeping rota and maintains a look-out for other vessels or obstacles;
  • maintains log of vessel’s progress, weather conditions, conduct of crew, etc.

Common job titles

Captain, ship's
Engineer, sea-going
Officer, engineer
Pilot, dock
Officer, radio
Mate (shipping)
Engineer, hydraulic (shipping)
Cadet (shipping)
Commander (shipping)
Engineer, marine (shipping)
Officer, deck
Engineer, refrigeration (shipping)
Skipper (shipping)
Master, yacht
Pilot, hovercraft
Engineer, marine, chief (shipping)
Commodore (shipping)
Captain, lighter
Captain, tug (shipping)
Mate, first
Mate, third
Operator, positioning, dynamic
Pilot, river
Master (Trinity House)
Engineer, ship's (fishing)
Officer, deck, Navy, Merchant
Officer, electrical (shipping)
Master, barge
Officer (shipping)
Master (shipping)
Skipper, tug (shipping)
Purser (shipping)
Pilot, harbour
Captain (shipping)
Pilot, marine
Officer, second (shipping)
Engineer, assistant (shipping)
Engineer, second
Officer, first
Skipper, rig, oil
Midshipman (shipping)
Engineer, ship's
Engineer, flight
Mariner, master
Officer, chief (shipping)
Officer, House, Trinity
Engineer, tug
Officer, refrigeration (shipping)
Officer, first (shipping)
Officer, navigating (shipping)
Officer, ship's
Pilot (shipping)
Mate, second
Officer, petty
Skipper, yacht
Pilot, canal
Superintendent of pilots
Superintendent, pilot
Engineer, chief
Officer, engineering (shipping)
Mate, chief
Master of lightship
Mate, fourth
Engineer, nos (shipping)
Engineer, electrical, nos (shipping)
Officer, engineer (shipping)
Officer, second
Officer, electronics (shipping)
Engineer, third
Officer, relieving (shipping)
Purser, ship's
Captain, barge
Engineer, first
Engineer, refrigerating (shipping)
Officer, navy, merchant
Captain, dredger
Officer, third (shipping)
Mate, tug
Captain, ferry
Officer, salvage, marine
Engineer, electrical, nos (telecommunications: cable ship)
Master, ships
Master, ship
Engineer, chief (shipping)
Master, tug