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Deck Officer

In this Section:
Career Pathway
Registered Training Organisations (RTOs)
How to Apply
Job Description
Course Structure
Salary Ranges
Entry Requirements

Career Pathways

To become a qualified Deck Officer you must complete a course at one of the Registered Training Organisations (RTO). The course is comprised of two components: a college component and a sea service component. The course is split up into blocks of college time and sea time. The college time allows students to gain a theoretical understanding of the key competencies whilst the sea time allows students to obtain “on the job” training. In order to be eligible to enroll in the course you must satisfy the entry requirements of the RTOs.

There are a number of different pathways available to become a deck officer, including the traditional cadet route. However, for further information about the various pathways available to those who may have existing maritime experience or have come from the Royal Australian Navy, please refer to the AMSA website and in particular the AMSA guidance document regarding pathways for deck officers.

**Please note that changes to Marine Orders may effect this timeline, so to ensure that you have the most up to date information, you should refer to Marine Order 70 and Marine Order 71 which can be found on the AMSA website at www.amsa.gov.au. These timeframes are approximate and the leave listed is an estimate and subject to variation.
Job Description
Deck Officers are responsible for navigation, using electronic instruments and celestially, using the sun and stars. They are also responsible for the maintenance of sea safety equipment, the supervision and management of staff, planning, organisation and supervision of cargo loading and unloading, the supervision of mooring and unmooring, liaising between a ship’s Captain and crew, as well as updating charts and the ship’s log.

As with any career at sea, being a Deck Officer will involve being away from home for several weeks at a time, carrying out shift work in all weathers, undergoing random drug testing and regular medical examinations.

Salary Ranges
Starting Salary: $90,000 - $116,000
Salary Range: $90, 000 - $210,000
Leave Arrangements: 25 weeks

*PLEASE NOTE: Seafarers work on a rotation that often splits evenly time spent at sea with time on leave; however this varies from company to company and is based on the needs of your employer. A common rotation for a Deck Officer would be 6 weeks on (at sea) followed by 6 weeks off, but this can vary from company to company. The Seagoing Industry Modern Award, which sets out the minimum terms and conditions for seafarers, prescribes a minimum of 0.926 days leave for every day of duty on board a vessel.

A copy of the Seagoing Industry Modern Award can be found on the Fair Work Commission website.

Qualifications Required: Diploma of Nautical Science (Deck Watchkeeper), Advanced Diploma of Applied Science (Chief Mate/Master).

Registered Training Organisations (RTOs)
There are limited RTOs within Australia where individuals can obtain the required qualification in order to undertake a career as a Deck Officer. These include:


The Australian Maritime College (AMC) located in Launceston, Tasmania.
Challenger Institute located in Fremantle, Western Australia.
Hunter Institute of Technology located in Newcastle, New South Wales.
Course Structure
The deck officer cadet training program consists of 4 parts:
Stage 1: Pre-sea Deck Cadet core navigation, seamanship subjects and safety training
Stage 2: Guided at-sea study programs
Stage 3: Deck Watchkeeper education and training, including STCW95 short courses
Stage 4: Chief Mate / Master unlimited education and training.
Entry Requirements
Minimum entry requirements are set by the RTOs according to their own minimum standards and also in accordance with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). Generally there is a minimum requirement of Yr.12 with passes in English, Mathematics and Science (preferably physics) to gain admission into the course at one of the RTOs. However to sit the AMSA certificate of competency oral exam you must have completed the course at one of the RTOs (including the minimum sea time) and be at least 20 years of age. Individuals are also required to pass AMSA medical examinations and meet the medical requirements for Deck Officers set out in Marine Order 9.

For more information of the training course visit:
AMC Deck Officer Course
Challenger Institute Deck Officer Course
Hunter Institute Deck Watchkeeper Course
How to apply
Individuals wanting to undertake the Deck Officer course can apply for sponsorship through the Sea Study database or can apply direct to the RTOs for admission.

Applicants applying via Sea Study are applying for a sponsorship/cadetship with a shipping company, where most of the fees for study will be covered by the sponsoring company and sea service is provided onboard one of the sponsoring company’s vessels. Please note: The Sea Study database is accessible only to subscribers to the service and is one of a number of ways that candidates might go about obtaining sponsorship to achieve their sea time.

Applicants applying direct to the RTOs are applying for “self funded” entry into the training course, and must make their own arrangements to secure a training berth that will satisfy the requirements of the “at sea” component of their study.