Many deckhands only spend short periods of time at sea, however, with experience and greater training they may spend weeks or months at a time away from land. They work as part of a team and must follow safe work practices to minimise the risk of danger to themselves, other crew members and passengers. They often work outdoors, in a range of weather conditions, though even when working indoors they may be exposed to rough weather conditions, which can be unpleasant. Hours of work can vary greatly depending on the type of vessel and the season, with longer shifts generally required in summer months. Some deckhands may work shifts, which can include nights and weekends.
On average, deck and fishing hands can expect to earn approximately $680 per week ($35 355 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. As a deck hand develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Deckhands use ropes and knots for a variety of purposes, including berthing vessels and tying down cargo. They may also use navigational instruments and radio equipment, usually under the supervision of a senior crew member. Safety equipment is very important and can include fire-extinguishers, life jackets and inflatable life rafts. They may also use standard cleaning equipment and hand tools to carry out general maintenance duties.
To work as a deck hand you must obtain a Certificate of Competency from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
The relevant qualification,Certificate I in Maritime Operations (General Purpose Hand Near Coastal), must be completed through an AMSA approved registered training organisation.
Visit the AMSA website for a list of approved training providers.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Back to top
If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.