The maritime industry offers a wide variety of career paths to prosper in life. As South Africans, we dream of working in the maritime industry at least once in our lives. In this article, let’s discuss the top 3 maritime careers in South Africa for a fulfilling maritime career.

Top 3 Maritime Careers in South Africa

1. Merchant Navy

Merchant Navy is the first popular option when we discuss the maritime industry. It is an umbrella term for the commercial shipping industry, including offshore (on the ships) and onshore (docks) jobs. It has a great potential to shape your career, earn hefty salaries, and of course, become respectfully popular amongst your peers. In South Africa, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology offers maritime programmes that are extremely useful for Merchant Navy careers. Please take a look at their website here.

From a dock hand to a marine engineer, the merchant navy has requirements in various sectors. Thus, it makes the merchant navy a diverse and lucrative sector for many aspiring seafarers. In the next article, we will specifically talk about Merchant Navy careers.

2. Oil and Gas (Offshore)

The world’s energy needs ride on Oil and Gas, a very sophisticated industry that offers lucrative opportunities to make it big. In this industry, you would be particularly working on OSVs, or Offshore Support Vessels that are like the cogs of this giant system. These OSVs are of different types and your tasks, position, and pay may differ accordingly.

Since the Oil and Gas industry does not exactly offer a safe work environment, there is a whole range of different safety certificates. An Oil and Gas industry worker must have proper certifications before working in the industry. Not to mention, Oil and Gas is a roughneck’s job, thus making physical fitness a priority. An Oil and Gas industry worker is expected to be resilient, enduring, and strong-willed.

3. Superyachts

Looking for a prestigious and rewarding workplace offshore? Then the superyachts offer the ultimate experience: a luxurious working environment, an opportunity to meet big personalities, and of course, a hefty sum plus the tips. Even a junior deckhand or a trainee deckhand earns a reasonably high compensation for their duties.

Sail and Power SA helps South African seafarers achieve their dream of working on a Superyacht. On our website, we have a series of useful articles for superyacht enthusiasts. Make sure to give them a read. You can start by reading our ‘How to get started with the Yachting Industry?‘ article.

What do I Need to Start My Maritime Career Journey?

Depending on the maritime career path, you may have to go for different qualifications. However, one thing is certain. You will require at least a high school diploma an equivalent. This is your most basic requirement.

As you advance, you may require a university degree in certain fields, such as marine engineering or naval architecture. CPUT and DUT in South Africa provide these courses. It is always a good idea to get a university degree, especially if you imagine yourself in a high-commanding position at some point in your career.

Additional Training to Secure Employment

Depending on the career path you choose, you will also have to go through specialised training before you can actively start applying for positions. For example, STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping) is a mandatory certificate for any seafarer. Besides that, the knowledge of operating a VHF radio, or handling a powerboat proves useful. 

Not to mention, physical fitness is also a must if you are working offshore. Before taking STCW, you will have to take a medical test to prove that you are fit for work. We have explained all about that in our ENG1 Medical Certificate article. Take a look.


These are the top 3 popular maritime careers in South Africa. If you want a marine career but do not know where to start, you may start looking for information about the careers mentioned above. SAMSA also has a page on maritime careers; you may take a look here.

Also, there are smaller, domestic careers like working on a fishing boat or touring boat. We advise you to reach out to them directly for more information. Make sure you have a skipper license and STCW before enquiry.

If you wish to have a superyacht career, Sail and Power SA can help you out. With our extensive knowledge and lifelong experience, you can be sure of receiving proper guidance and training. For more information, kindly visit our website or connect with us today!