BoatMaster Apprentice

Course Length 24 months
Course Cost £25,000 (paid by the employer via Government funding)
Apprentice Requirements
  • Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn your chosen trade.
  • Dedication and commitment to coursework and the job.
  • English and Maths to GCSE (or equivalent) grade C or 4. If not, SeaRegs
    will assist you in gaining these qualifications during the Apprenticeship.
  • MCA's ML5 medical (employer pays for this after your successful interview).

The 2-year Boatmaster Level 3 Apprenticeship covers a wide range of commercial activity on inland tidal and non-tidal waterways in the UK. Boatmasters often navigate vessels through busy and highly challenging waterways. Career opportunities are extensive - for instance, a Boatmaster could be the captain of a single vessel passenger boat or could be working for a large freight operator, responsible for safely moving freight up the river to a port. 

This Apprenticeship covers a wide range of commercial activity on inland tidal and non-tidal waterways and limited distances to sea. Career opportunities are extensive – for instance, a Boatmaster could be the captain of a passenger boat or working for a towage company, responsible for safely moving large vessels up the river to a port.

Currently, we programme the training to take place over one and two-week segments over 24 months. The training includes over 20 nationally recognised industry qualifications, STCW Basic Training, practical boat handling courses whilst also incorporating the SQA Level 2 Diploma in Maritime Studies: Rivers, Inland Waterways and Limited Distances to Sea. More details are shown below.

This Apprenticeship provides full training as a Boatmaster. Apprentices must also obtain a Boat Master licence from the Maritime Coastguard Agency to lawfully operate and are prepped for this level by the Apprenticeship. The Apprenticeship covers the highest level Boatmaster level Tier 1 Level 2 for inland waters. Apprentices will also gain a commercial skippers licence for vessels up to 20 miles to sea from a safe haven.

This programme is designed to incorporate all aspects of the new Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard and additional RYA/MCA qualifications over two years. Timings may alter slightly, due to weather conditions for practical aspects of the course and employer work schedules.

BoatMaster Apprenticeship Certificates

Training will lead to a practical and theory End Point Assessment to gain the SQA qualification and being put forward to sit the MCA Boatmaster Tier 1 Level 2 qualification. 

By successfully completing the above units, candidates will gain the following certificates: 

    • MCA AEC Course Certification 
    • MCA Crisis Management and Human Behaviour 
    • SQA Radar Certificate 
    • SQA Electronic Chart Systems Certificate 
    • RYA/MCA GMDSS Short Range Communications Certificate 
    • RYA Professional Practices and Responsibilities 
    • RYA Commercial Endorsement 
    • RYA Powerboat Level 2 certificate 
    • RYA Day Skipper theory and practical certificate 
    • RYA Coastal Skipper theory and hopefully Yachtmaster Coastal CoC 
    • STCW Elementary First Aid 
    • STCW Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities 
    • STCW Proficiency in Security Awareness 
    • STCW Basic Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention 
    • STCW Personal Survival Techniques 
    • STCW HELM Operational SQA Level 2 Maritime Studies: Rivers, Inland Waterways & Limited Distances to Sea


You will gain the following knowledge; onboard health and safety law, good knowledge and maintenance of ropework, access and lifting gear, seamanship, navigation and passage planning including radar usage, anchoring, knowledge of International Maritime Organisation Conventions, company bridge procedures, emergency regulations, all aspects of ship manoeuvrability, propulsion, steering and obstacles (locks, docks and bridges) including tides and poor weather. Onboard communication systems and methods, legislation of vessel construction and operation, maintenance of deck machinery and factors that affect seaworthiness.  General engineering practice and procedures and pollution legislation. Also included is equality and diversity legislation, awareness of the employer’s business objectives to ensure that the vessel contributes to the business.


You will be taught the following skills; to take responsibility for the vessel whilst sailing and in port and for everyone on board, to respond and manage all emergency situations on board, including first aid and fire-fighting. Handling the vessel in emergencies and in high traffic density areas (tidal and non-tidal) with obstacles, weirs, and bridges. Navigation and meteorology. Manoeuvrability, mooring and anchoring of vessels with different types of propulsion systems, carry out and prioritise deck operations ensuring vessels are operated and remain in a safe and seaworthy condition. Check and maintain deck equipment and engines. Maintain vessels’ records. Collaborate, manage and lead your team onboard and onshore. Implementation of compliance frameworks.


You will be expected to be self-motivated, to work independently and with integrity, act as a role model for the crew, identify development opportunities for the crew, be calm and effective under pressure, implement best practice in safety management. Enable your own professional development, keep abreast of industry advances, be sympathetic to the protection of the marine environment from pollution and always treat everyone fairly and equally.

Find out more

Get in touch

Job Search