Deck Cadets learn to load ships, store cargo, handle gear, stationary rigging, and running gear, and learns ship stability, ship maneuvering and ship management and perform a variety of operations and maintenance tasks to preserve the painted surface of the ship and to maintain line and ship equipment. In the process, they earn qualified sea time hours. In short, a deck cadet performs all navigational and maintenance duties on a water based vessel under supervision of a deck officer. 

Once you have passed all of your classes, paid all your dues and spent your 3 years of training time aboard a ship, you can then apply to become an entry level seaman or officer. From there, you can continue on and work your way up the career chain. 

Navigation today uses both satellite and other electronic means but a fundamental understanding of more traditional techniques is still vital to cope with all possible situations. Seamanship and safety are also of great importance for in spite of all the safeguards allowed by modern technology the sea will forever be a hostile environment. All of these skills will be learned by a mixture of training and practical experience. The ultimate goal of the Deck officer is to become Master of his/her own ship; leadership skills and man management are, therefore, also essential ingredients here. 

A career at sea offers a wide experience and challenging work environment. Experienced mariners are in great demand in various shore assignments because of their ability to handle all types of jobs, their resourcefulness, sense of responsibility and ability to work under most demanding circumstances. A deck officer is very valuable and responsible member of ship's team. He has to navigate the ship from one port to another in all circumstances with caution and safety at all times and maintains the equipment operated him in good working order. This gives him watch experience and tremendous confidence. However, it must be understood that the life of an officer is tough, and not suited for the weak hearted. 

But there are compensation as well a class III certificate of competence holder starts as a third officer (approx Salary: US$ 3000) with prospectus of becoming a master in about 8 years (approx salary US$ 7000-14000) plus leave and allowances. The Master is the overall incharge of the ship and is more populary known as the Captain. But one has to join at the bottom rung of the marine ladder and spend years of training to become an officer. A cadet starts at the bottom of the maritime job ladder. Much like in the armed forces, a cadet is, simply put, a future officer under training. Although rules about training and certification (the examinations a cadet and later, an officer takes regularly to be eligible for a higher rank) vary from country to country, the basics are the same. The Captain or the Master of the ship is the overall in charge. He is responsible for the safety navigation of the vessal and is incharge of the ship, all the officers and crew, the safety its crew and the cargo. He has, working under his command, the first mate, second mate and third mates, all of whom have navigational and cargo duties. The Chief Engineer and the Engine Department also report to him for all operational matters, and so do all other Departments on board. 

The First Mate / Chief officer is the second in-command. He is incharge of cargo, maintenance of the Deck Department and crew discipline. The Second Mate / Second officer, assistant to the First Mate is in-charge of navigational equipment and charts. He is the 'Navigating Officer'. He reports to the Chief Officer on cargo matters. The Third Mate / Third officer is responsible for keeping lifeboats, liferafts and other safety and firefighting equipment in order. He reports to the Chief Officer on cargo matters and assists the Second Officer in the upkeep of nautical publications. The Start Trainees, or cadets, must join the 'Deck' or Navigation department to progress towards a Master's (Captain's) rank. The options the student who wants to join the merchant navy as a deck cadet will include either - a 3 year degree course in Nautical Science for (10+2) students . After completing of the 3-year course, a student is awarded a Degree in Nautical Science and is required to go on board ship for sea training or around a year or in some cases a little more.. or a 3 months course for Deck Cadets for (10+2) students. After completion of the course, the student has to get sea training for anything between eighteen months and 3 years, depending on the country. The student will be usually paid a stipend while under sea training in either case. Room and board is free, of course, and medical benefits and some others are common

Seaman vs Deck Cadet

Seaman refers to a rank in the navy. It is also known as the Navy's lowest rank after Able Seaman and Leading Seaman. Aboard a merchant ship, the responsibilities of the men in the deck section are numerous, and vary to a great extent. Although merchant ships are a range of sizes, they generally conform to one pattern of manpower. It is true that the ways in which different tasks are accomplished aboard a ship will vary from ship to ship, but generally the basics will remain the same. 

At the lowest level is the ordinary seaman. The ordinary seaman primarily assists the able seaman with his duties, but may be required to do many other tasks. Tasks that the ordinary seaman may be needed to accomplish, include being on the lookout, paint scaling and chipping, helping to moor the ship by handling lines, and helping to tie and let the vessel. 

The next level is the Able seaman. By law, the able seaman should have the ability to perform all duties pertaining to the deck, except for actual vessel navigation. Generally speaking, the able seaman carries out the following duties: Splicing the fibre line, working over the ship’s side, operating machinery on the deck, taking care of cargo storage, taking care of the ship’s rigging, and repairing the canvas. He should also have the ability to handle the lifeboat under sail. 

The next rank of seaman is the Boatswain. This position can be closely compared to a foreman in an industrial plant setting. Often, the Boatswain is a very experienced seaman, and his domain is everything that has do with maintenance, taking care of deck equipment as well as cargo carried on the deck. When a ship is being secured for sea, it is the Boatswain that supervises this exercise, and also oversees cargo loading and offloading. Other seamen include a carpenter, whose duties are as varied as they are numerous, and a Quartermaster on some ships, usually the larger ones. 

A deck cadet must be able to perform almost all deck duties, as well as navigation aboard a vessel, but at a basic level. However, deck cadets are assigned specific tasks on a ship, unlike a seaman, who can do any of the tasks that are pending.


The position of Seaman has various levels, depending on tasks, while a deck cadet has no levels of work. A Seaman normally carries out any tasks that may be pending on a ship, while a deck cadet is assigned a specific task. A Seaman is usually more experienced than a deck cadet, as a deck cadet only needs basic knowledge of seamanship tasks