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What Certificates are Needed to Work in Seafarer Jobs?

What Certificates are Needed to Work in Seafarer Jobs?

Eve Jones

Seafarer jobs are wide and varied and cover numerous different tasks and responsibilities, all shared between the different departments on a vessel. For example, among other things, the Deck Department on a container ship will look after the cargo and maintenance, the Engine Department will take care of the engine and mechanics, and the ship’s Cook, under the Stewards Department (sometimes called the Saloon Department), naturally, takes care of the catering.

But no matter what department or which one of the seafarer ranks you plan to work in eventually, one thing remains the same and that is, that it is necessary for a seafarer interested in a career in one of the many maritime jobs to hold the relevant certifications to work on board a vessel.

If you don’t have the right qualifications listed on your resume for a seaman, basically you’re not going to get very far.

locked gate and barbed wire on a dock

And of course training is a crucial aspect of learning the skills and acquiring the qualifications needed to work in jobs at sea. In addition to this there are also some very specific character traits that all mariners need, no matter whether they’re looking for entry level cargo ship jobs or are further along in their career.

Read more: Your Guide to Maritime Training for Jobs at Sea

What certificates are needed to work in seafarer jobs?

Of course, the requirements for seafarers depend upon the type of jobs at sea that a seaman is looking for. Obviously a ship’s Cook is going to need a very different skill set to that of an Ordinary Seaman, a Chief Engineer or a Junior Electrician.

However one thing that all positions have in common is that the seafarer’s certifications must be valid, and that includes any that did not have an expiry date previously.

old out of date certificate

In this blog post we’ll take a look at just some of the certifications that a few of the seafarer ranks on board a ship will need to possess.

By the way, these are all positions that we’re normally looking to fill here at Martide, so if you’re interested in applying for any of the following jobs at sea, check you meet the criteria, and create an account with us!

Right now we're going to start by taking a look at certificates needed by the ship’s Master (or Captain), and the Deck Officers.

What certificates do a ship’s Master and Deck Officers need?

The requirements for these seafarer jobs are generally the same and both demand that anyone who is applying for one of these positions holds a Certificate of Competency (COC) or a Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CEC) which is specific to their seafarer ranks and the flag of the vessel.

flag in the back of a vessel with the wake and mountains in the background

Anyone applying to either of these jobs at sea will also need STCW (The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers) qualifications in Personal Survival Techniques, Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting, and Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities.

Medical competencies are also necessary, as is training in the GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress Safety System) and Designated Security Duties.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Ship's Master Jobs

What certificates does a Chief Engineer need?

Meanwhile, if you’re looking to start maritime training with the future goal of becoming a Chief Engineer, there will be plenty of maritime career opportunities for you to rise through the seafarer ranks as you start in entry level cargo ship jobs and begin to learn how to competently manage a vessel’s engineering department.

An Engineer will be expected to know how to operate and repair all equipment on the ship, whether it’s of a mechanical, pneumatic electrical, or hydraulic nature.

screwdrivers mounted on a wall rack

In addition, First Aid at Sea or Medical First Aid as well as ENG1 or equivalent Medical, plus Advanced Fire Fighting and CPSC & RB (Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats) certificates are looked for by employers in the shipping industry.

A Master’s Degree in Marine or Naval Engineering will be looked upon favorably by prospective employers, although it is not mandatory.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Chief Marine Engineer Jobs

What certificates does an Able Bodied Seaman need?

Maritime recruitment agencies and shipping companies are usually looking for Able Bodied Seamen (ABs) to fill their cargo ship jobs at sea. This is one of the seafarer ranks that entails sweeping, polishing and cleaning the deck, as well as loading and unloading cargo. ABs also assist in the mooring of the ship and taking watches at sea.

An Efficient Deck Hand (EDH) or Able Seaman Certificate is required to work in AB seafarer jobs, as are STCW Elementary First Aid, STCW Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting, and a Navigational Watch Rating Certificate, among others.

green and white First Aid kit bag with oil stains on it

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Able Seaman Jobs

Last but by no means least in this short list of seafarer jobs, is the position of ship’s Cook, which sometimes appears in vacancies for jobs at sea that are advertised by maritime recruitment agencies such as Martide.

Unsurprisingly, qualifications usually needed for this rank include a Cook’s Certificate of Competency or Ship’s Cook Parts 1 and 2, and Food Hygiene. But so too are STCW Personal Survival Techniques, STCW Elementary First Aid, and STCW Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities.

After all, the Cook might be busy in the galley cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, but they are still an integral part of a vessel’s crew, and as such must be trained and competent in safety techniques.

Security Awareness Training for seafarer jobs

One other thing to be aware of is that  Security Awareness Training is becoming increasingly required by some companies in the maritime industry. This covers the various security threats faced by modern vessels and trains seafarers in how to deal with them in the event an issue should arise.

white security camera mounted on a passenger ship

The personality traits needed to work in maritime jobs

As well as the skills, qualifications and training you will need on your resume for a seaman to enjoy a long and successful career at sea, a seafarer’s personality plays a crucial part in making that happen.

No matter whether you’re a ship’s Master, a shipfitter or a Deck Cadet working in entry level cargo ship jobs, being able to work to deadline, resourcefulness and having the mental strength to be able to handle spending time away from loved ones while at sea is an absolute must.

Most seafarer jobs also require good communication skills and for you to be able to work as a team - AKA a crew!

Read more: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering a Career in Seafarer Jobs

How to find maritime jobs with Martide

Apply for different seafarer ranks and maritime jobs with Martide now by registering your account. It's quick, easy and free - it’s just like creating an online resume for a seaman - and once done means that all of our seafarer jobs are open to you to apply for!

smartphone showing Martide seafarer jobs at sea app

Plus if you download our free mobile app from Google Play or the Apple App Store you'll be able to apply for our seafarer jobs wherever in the world you are.


Disclaimer: Please note that in addition to the requirements listed above, anyone interested in any seafarer job should also hold a number of other certifications and this blog post is meant only as a guide.

This blog post was originally published on May 8th 2019 and updated on November 19th 2020