Ships' officers enjoy considerable responsibility right from the start of their careers. They ensure the safety of their ships and their cargoes, the lives of their shipmates and the protection of the marine environment.
Officer trainees usually learn the professional skills required through combining education at specialist institutions and practical training on board ships and you can expect to qualify as either a Deck or Engineer Officer at the "Operational Level" within 3 or 4 years of starting maritime education and training. As a junior officer, reporting to senior officers, you will supervise the work of "ratings" - seafarers qualified at the "Support Level".
As a deck officer at sea you will be responsible for the safe navigation of a seagoing vessel, its passengers and crew. Alternatively you might be responsible for mooring or cargo handling, leading a team of seafarers using your knowledge and experience to ensure safe and successful operations.
As an engineer officer ,you will be responsible, during "watch periods", for the safe operation of the ship's engines and technical systems - enormous industrial machinery. The forces which the sea can exert on a ship mean that the full and proper functioning of engineering systems are vital at all times for the safety of the ship and the protection of the environment.
Within 10 years of commencing specialist maritime education and training, it is possible to qualify as a Captain or Chief Engineer with total responsibility for the operation of a ship and the management and safety of its crew.