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Engineer Cadet

What’s it like working as an Engineering Cadet?

As part of the team servicing the working belly of the ship, Engineering Cadets assist and understudy the ship’s Engineering Officers in their duties.

Engineering Cadets enter into a training programme that lasts between 18 months and three years, a large part of which will be spent onboard receiving structured training and building up experience.

Supplemented by shore-based learning, becoming an Engineering Cadet is the first step to reaching an Officer ranking onboard.

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Roles

What kind of work can I do?

Working through an internship-like program aboard ships, an Engineering Cadet will get involved in work in the control room, under the supervision of the Engineering Officers. They will also assist Engineering Officers in maintaining the ship’s main engines, and running and maintaining all mechanical equipment, including the operation and maintenance of pumps and fuel systems, electrical generating and distribution equipment, refrigeration, air conditioning plant, lifts, and cranes.

Where can I work?

Shipping companies are always looking for bright and ambitious candidates looking to start a Cadetship. However with no central agency for Cadets, those interested need to approach individual companies to find out about openings in Engineering Cadet schemes.

Typical employers include shipping companies, cruise companies, and ship agencies, and the work is, by its very nature, international. Positions are available on a range of ships, including bulk carriers, tankers, cruise ships, and containerships. Generally, Engineering Cadets receive an income and all training costs are covered by the sponsoring company.

Becoming an Engineering Cadet is the first move towards a rewarding career in the all-important engineering department of a merchant ship.

Does training stop after cadetship?

No. That’s just the start! There are higher qualifications and Certificates of Competence to aim for and, of course, you will look forward to promotion through the ranks, possibly to Master or Chief Engineer. It is also possible to study for a degree in Nautical Science or Marine Engineering.

What is a Certificate of Competency?

This is internationally recognised and your licence to practice. It allows you to keep watch on board a merchant ship so is extremely valuable. It’s sometimes called your ‘ticket’.

What happens if I join as an Able Bodied Seaman and then decide I want to be an Officer?

Provided you show the right aptitude, it should be possible to study for the necessary qualifications and achieve Officer status.

How much vacation do I get after a voyage?

Although the work is hard while you’re on board, the vacation days (called ‘Leave’) are generous when you are qualified. For example, after a voyage lasting, say 4 months, you could get as much as 2 months or more off at home.

While you are under training, leave is not as generous as when you are qualified but about a third of the training programme for Cadets is spent at College during which time a normal 5-day week is worked

Will I get paid when I am training at sea?

While you’re training you will be employed by a shipping company and paid a salary. While you’re at sea, (and for some companies while you’re at college) all your living expenses are paid for.

And most ships’ personnel wear uniforms and usually you’re expected to conform to a dress-code at College

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Future

How big is this sector?

There are over 50,000 ships in the world trading fleet, meaning that the number of positions available is relatively large. And with the fleet expected to increase in size over the next decade, the number of Cadetships available should keep on growing.

Increased automation and streamlining of operations has reduced the number of seafarers needed per voyage, however, minimum manning numbers laid down by international conventions has helped to balance that trend.