Student Stories content

Student Stories

I am training to be a Marine Engineer Officer through the Merchant Navy Officer Cadet programme at the NAFC Marine Centre UHI in Shetland.

Why did you choose this career?

I had not long finished an apprenticeship in mechanical manufacture and was growing bored with the work and lack of challenge. My dad was an engineer in the merchant navy when he was younger so it had always been something I had considered.  After more research and speaking to people about it I decided to go for it and haven’t regretted it.

Did you have any reservations about your career choice?

My biggest concern with starting the cadetship was that I was never the most academic person in school so I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work on my part to keep up with studies.

It was also quite a daunting thought to leave a well paying job and the comfort of home to move to shetland and start a new career from scratch.

What else did you consider (career wise) if anything?

I went into a mechanical manufacture apprenticeship from school which I really enjoyed throughout the apprenticeship and found myself in a job I was happy in. After I was time served I decided that there was no clear route to climb or qualifications to gain so decided to make a change.

What kind of ships have you worked on, and where?

I’m sponsored by North Star Shipping and have completed my first sea phase over which I spent time on both Emergency Response & Rescue Vessels (ERRVs) and Platform Supply Vessels (PSVs). North Star is a North Sea based company so I was in and out of Aberdeen and Peterhead.

How you feel you have been treated as a cadet/trainee in the working/college environment?

At NAFC all of the lecturers have been brilliant in helping me with my studies and ensuring I understand everything being taught.

At sea I feel it mostly depends on how you act as a cadet.  I worked with a lot of brilliant mentors on all of my ships who all spared a lot of time to train and educate me, and I made sure to understand what was expected of me and meet those expectations.

Any specific problems you have encountered?


What support you have received?

I keep in touch with friends and family  while at college and at sea which is a good boost but there’s a good support network at NAFC of cadets and lecturers and I know that if I have any issues I can also contact my training manager at SSTG or my crewing manager at North Star.

What advice you would give to others considering a career at sea?

Accept that you don’t know anything on the ship, that way you have more to learn.  Have a good attitude on board and be respectful to the crew.

Would you make the same career choice again?

Definitely! While I’m glad I had some work experience behind me when I began the cadetship my only regret is not starting earlier.

The Merchant Navy Officer Cadet Programme trains Deck and Engineer Officers for the Merchant Navy.

Merchant Navy Officer Cadet, Joe