Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

What are the Requirements for a Deck Cadet?

Embarking on a career at sea as a Deck Cadet is an exciting and rewarding journey. It offers the opportunity to travel the world, experience diverse cultures, and gain invaluable skills that can lead to a fulfilling maritime career. However, becoming a Deck Cadet requires meeting specific requirements and undergoing rigorous training. This comprehensive guide outlines the essential steps and qualifications needed to pursue this career path.

What is a Deck Cadet?

A Deck Cadet is an entry-level position on a merchant ship, responsible for assisting the deck officers in various tasks related to navigation, cargo handling, and maintenance. This role serves as a stepping stone toward becoming a licensed deck officer and is crucial for gaining practical experience and knowledge in maritime operations.

Educational Requirements

1. Secondary Education

The journey to becoming a Deck Cadet typically begins with obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent. Strong performance in subjects such as mathematics, physics, and English is advantageous, as these subjects form the foundation for further maritime studies.

2. Maritime Academy or Training Institute

Enrolling in a recognized maritime academy or training institute is a critical step. These institutions offer specialized programs designed to equip aspiring Deck Cadets with the necessary theoretical knowledge and practical skills. The curriculum often includes subjects such as:

  • Nautical Science
  • Marine Engineering
  • Navigation
  • Maritime Law
  • Safety and Emergency Procedures

Physical and Medical Requirements

1. Medical Fitness

Working at sea demands physical fitness and good health. Aspiring Deck Cadets must pass a comprehensive medical examination conducted by an approved maritime medical practitioner. This examination assesses various aspects of health, including vision, hearing, cardiovascular fitness, and overall physical condition.

2. Physical Endurance

Life at sea can be physically demanding, requiring Deck Cadets to perform tasks such as climbing ladders, lifting heavy equipment, and working in adverse weather conditions. Maintaining physical fitness through regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle is essential.

Certification and Training

1. STCW Certification

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) sets the global standards for maritime training and certification. Aspiring Deck Cadets must obtain the following STCW certifications:

  • Basic Safety Training (BST): Covers fundamental safety skills, including firefighting, personal survival techniques, first aid, and personal safety and social responsibilities.
  • Security Awareness Training: Provides knowledge on security threats, procedures, and measures to ensure the safety of the ship and crew.

2. Seafarer’s Identification and Record Book (SIRB)

The SIRB, also known as a Seaman’s Book, is a crucial document that records a seafarer’s sea service and qualifications. Obtaining an SIRB is mandatory for Deck Cadets and requires submitting proof of identity, medical fitness, and completion of the necessary training.

Practical Experience

1. Sea Time

Gaining practical experience at sea is a fundamental requirement for Deck Cadets. Most maritime training programs include a mandatory sea time component, where cadets work onboard ships under the supervision of experienced officers. This hands-on experience allows cadets to apply their theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios and develop essential skills such as:

  • Navigational watchkeeping
  • Cargo handling and stowage
  • Ship maintenance and repair
  • Communication and teamwork

2. Cadetship Programs

Many shipping companies offer cadetship programs that provide structured training and mentorship for aspiring Deck Cadets. These programs often include rotations on different types of vessels, allowing cadets to gain diverse experiences and exposure to various maritime operations.

Soft Skills and Personal Attributes

1. Communication Skills

Effective communication is vital in the maritime industry, where clear and concise instructions are essential for safe and efficient operations. Deck Cadets must possess strong verbal and written communication skills to interact with the crew, officers, and shore-based personnel.

2. Problem-Solving Abilities

Working at sea often presents unexpected challenges that require quick thinking and problem-solving skills. Deck Cadets should be able to assess situations, identify potential issues, and implement effective solutions to ensure the smooth functioning of the ship.

3. Teamwork and Leadership

Deck Cadets work as part of a team and must collaborate with colleagues from diverse backgrounds. Developing teamwork and leadership skills is crucial for fostering a positive and productive work environment. As cadets progress in their careers, these skills will be essential for assuming higher responsibilities and leading a team.

Application Process

1. Research and Preparation

Before applying for a Deck Cadet position, thorough research is essential. Prospective cadets should explore various maritime academies, training programs, and shipping companies to find the best fit for their career goals. Preparing a well-crafted resume and cover letter highlighting relevant skills and experiences is also crucial.

2. Application Submission

Applications for Deck Cadet positions are typically submitted online through the websites of maritime academies, training institutes, or shipping companies. It is important to follow the application guidelines carefully and provide all required documents, including educational certificates, medical reports, and identification.

3. Interviews and Assessments

Shortlisted candidates may be invited for interviews and assessments to evaluate their suitability for the Deck Cadet role. These assessments may include aptitude tests, physical fitness evaluations, and panel interviews. Preparing thoroughly for these assessments can significantly enhance the chances of success.

Career Progression

1. Ongoing Training and Certification

Becoming a successful Deck Officer requires continuous learning and professional development. Deck Cadets must pursue advanced certifications and training courses to progress in their careers. These may include:

  • Officer of the Watch (OOW) Certificate: The first level of officer certification, allowing cadets to serve as Third Officers.
  • Chief Mate Certificate: The second level of officer certification, qualifying cadets to serve as Second Officers or Chief Mates.
  • Master Mariner Certificate: The highest level of officer certification, enabling cadets to serve as Captains or Masters of vessels.

2. Gaining Experience

Accumulating sea time and experience in various roles is essential for career advancement. Deck Cadets should seek opportunities to work on different types of vessels, such as container ships, tankers, bulk carriers, and passenger ships, to broaden their skills and knowledge.

3. Networking and Mentorship

Building a professional network within the maritime industry can open doors to new opportunities and valuable insights. Deck Cadets should actively seek mentorship from experienced officers and industry professionals to gain guidance and support throughout their careers.


Becoming a Deck Cadet is a challenging yet rewarding journey that requires dedication, hard work, and a passion for the maritime industry. By meeting the educational, physical, and certification requirements, gaining practical experience, and developing essential skills, aspiring Deck Cadets can embark on a successful and fulfilling career at sea.

If you are passionate about maritime adventures and eager to take the first step towards becoming a Deck Cadet, start by researching reputable maritime academies and training programs. Prepare thoroughly, stay committed to your goals, and embrace the opportunities that come your way. The world of maritime awaits you!

For more industry insights and career tips, follow our blog and stay updated with the latest trends and opportunities in the maritime sector. Safe sailing!

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