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Advice request: Value of deck cadetship

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  • Advice request: Value of deck cadetship


    I've been having a good read of the forums and have heard very mixed views on whether it's worth doing a deck cadetship in this day and age. I'm currently 26, and considering a future in maritime as a career change. Would really value views on whether a cadetships is the right route for my background and if it presents strong enough opportunities to consider walking away from a stable and well paid (but otherwise uninspiring) shore based role. To be clear, this is something I've considered seriously for a number of years.

    I have some background in commercial yachting, running flotilla holidays in the Med, and have some SAR experience with the New Zealand coastguard. I hold an RYA Yachtmaster offshore which I can commercially endorse if I do my ENG1 and STCWs. I have a reasonable amount of yacht racing background from when I lived abroad and am experienced enough to become a cruising instructor. (Also have experience to do an advanced powerboat license).

    In addition, I studied an economics degree at a good university and have gone on to work in finance and government policy (c. 3 years office based experience, not managerial, but with some links to ports and maritime sector)

    I'm interested in options to continue in the private yachting industry, but self-funding courses is a stretch and I'm wondering if there's value in using a cadetship to get the OOW tickets and transition. I also have a strong interest in commercial vessels, particularly work boats where there is a lot of variety, so am very open to staying on the commercial side. Am also particularly into the idea of working on research ships.

    I'm trying to work out whether a cadetship is a worthwhile investment. As I'm a bit older I'd imagine RFA would be too competitive (hear they like school leavers best). Trinity House seems great but as I've been to uni I'm not sure I'm eligible for funding, I'm also not sure how good employment prospects are given number of posts suggesting to only do cadetships with hiring firms.

    I don't have a massive need to travel the world, so am somewhat content with a UK based role (definitely would prefer shorter rotations to 4+months offshore), so from forum posts, UK ferries (p&o) or more local tankers like James Fisher tankers seem good options to apply for, but again unsure if worth time investment vs. building qualifications organically.

    Alternatively, I've considered using my yachtmaster commercially to build sea time, work as a deckhand on yachts, skippering support vessels, instructing, then self- fund higher level tickets as needed. I can earn reasonable money doing this, but will need to invest substantially in courses myself, and unsure whether job prospects are worthwhile longer term.

    Welcome all and any advice.

    Have read some very negative posts on the outlook for British mariners, but I do dream of working at sea. I also know that with my professional background in finance and policy I could transition easily into shore-based maritime work in future (although potentially could try and make the move now).

    Many thanks,

  • #2
    Hi and welcome to the forum! Clearly everyone has their own reasons for "running away to sea" and as you've got some experience within the yacht industry I'll assume you actually enjoy working at sea

    Have a look at some of the others posts from older cadets asking similar questions, if you haven't already as this topic has already been discussed in great detail in previous years.

    Your first concern - eligibility for funding... Most UK cadetship providers use the SMART funding program (it's basically a mixture of tax break for the ship owners and some cash towards the academic course from the government) - this is totally seperate to any previous university degree / funding you may have had, so don't worry about that.

    As with all courses there is no guarantee what the situation will be like upon completion, you've already done a university degree, so i'm sure you are more than aware of this. While at present it's certainly more likely you MAY be offered employment if you are completing your cadetship with certain sponsors / companies it is in no way guaranteed that they will offer you a job at the end of the 3 years.

    As an older applicant do consider (and have a good answer when asked by recruiters) how you will support yourself (and any dependents) during the cadetship. If you have no other comitments this wont really be an issue, but do bare in mind that you'll have to survive on 800ish (possibly lower depending on company) per month for the 3 years of your cadetship.
    ?Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn?t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.?

    ? Mark Twain
    myBlog | @alistairuk | flickr | youtube Views and opinions expressed are those of myself and not representative of any employer or other associated party.


    • #3
      Thank you very much for the considered reply Alistair. I've had a good browse thus far but will continue.

      Welcome views from others on the value of progressing outside a cadetships. I think the big trade off is earnings while building experience on smaller boats and paying for tickets/ exams, Vs salary sacrifice of the cadetship.


      • #4
        IMO the cadetship program and the Fd/SPD (Higher qualification) is very valuable for the right person. The problems start when people go into the cadetship with no real idea what it will involve, and what their longer term plans are. Without a doubt this is due to the 'bums on seats' mentality of some of the larger recruitment/training agencies who just have quotas of cadets to fill for their clients. Luckily, it sounds like you have a fair idea of the industry and cadetship.

        The way I read it you have a few career paths open to you - you can of course jump around, but it's hard and there are some commitments for a couple of them!

        1) Start a Deck Cadetship, gain your OOW + Foundation Degree/Scottish Professional Diploma.

        Pros - You'll get your 'commercial' Unlimited license, industry exposure and a maritime accredited qualification. An economics degree is just going to get your on a level with other grads joining shoreside shipping commercial interests - unfortunately experience on small boats won't help there. However an economics degree, a qualified officer... You'll be skipping queues to get to the hiring manager. The OOW qualification will also open up the technical side of shipping jobs ashore to some extent as well as shore based port authority/VTS style jobs. Some of these will require seagoing experience in rank though.

        As Alastair says, you could of course work at sea, but you won't have a guaranteed job. I dare to say though that with your yachting experience, you'd likely be able to pick up some OOW work on yachts quickly enough and jump over to UK based work when it comes up for the shorter trips. Large yachts seem to be offering 3/3 month rotations for officers too in some situations so that might suit?

        Cons - it's a cadetship. A long slog, 12 months at sea, 2 years in college. You probably won't find the college work too challenging but you'll still be expected to be in 9-5 (ish) every day so boredom can set in. At sea you might end up having a rubbish time. It's going to be a lot different from yachting flotillas that's for sure. As mentioned, pay can be as little as 450 per month whilst you are at sea, not nice.

        2) Commercially endorse your YM, then complete Master 200/500 modules.

        Pros - money is good, and this is quick and easy. A Deckhand/Mate on a Windfarm CTV, Multicat, Harbour Tenders can look to be earning 140-200 p/d. Taxable most likely but still not bad for what tends to be a fairly easy job. Get some handling experience and seatime and you'll be eligible for the Master 200 and then 500. Skippers are earning around 250-300 p/d for again, quite an easy job. Can be long hours.

        Cons - you aren't getting any academic qualifications this way. Will be tricky to jump into a maritime shoreside position. Again, the experience gained on these boats will not likely be much help working for a 'big' maritime commercial interest - but will open up doors to work for workboat/CTV companies shoreside. There is a roof too, you'll be limited to boats under 200 or 500 GT. No easy way to up that other than going back and self-funding the courses which is sort of the position you are in now.

        3) Work as a Deckhand on larger yachts, complete OOW 3000/Unlimited Modules and qualify the 'long' way.

        Pros - good money along the way, a nice life and a suntan. All the perks of working on superyachts. Take the OOW (Yachts) route and then you can progress in a structured way to become a yacht captain. Alternatively, complete the extra OOW Unlimited modules and you'll be on the same track as option 1 BUT without the commercial experience which may well set you back a bit. On the other hand, opens up all sorts of doors working in commercial yachting ashore (not my area of expertise though).

        Cons - 36 months seatime required I think? And the cost of self-funding the OOW modules which isn't that great considering what you will be earning in the meantime plus there is a fair bit of charity funding available. As I said above, you aren't gaining commercial experience (I mean bulkers, tankers, cargo rather than 'white' yachts and cruise ships) which could limit shore side options.

        TLDR; cadetship has value if you are in it for the long haul. 3 years of crap money and hard work and you'll land in a better position (depending on your own goals) than the other seagoing options. Good luck whatever you decide!


        • #5
          Thank you very much Sailorj. Lots of valuable info in there that articulates well a lot of the trade offs in my mind with with some valuable nuggets of info. Hugely appreciate the advice.