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About Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Courses

How much do MCA courses cost, including exam fees?

There are a lot of MCA courses required to be a professional yachtsman so be prepared to get your wallet out!

Each course will cost between £300 - £5000 depending on what you seek from your career. The courses to do deckhand training are generally lower than those for officer and master training.

For example, have £10,000 (approx. $15,740 or 13,850 EUROS) ready to be an Officer Of Watch from a standing start, with courses costing between £1000 to £2000 each (approx. $1,575-$3,150 or 1,385-2,770 EUROS).

What will you get out of MCA courses?

Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) courses are designed to enable the certificated crew, officer or master to work professionally on a commercial vessel all over the world.

The MCA is the UK’s national commercial vessel crew, officer and master certification office. For any commercial yachting certification you must achieve internationally agreed minima in courses ranging from fire safety via engineering, to navigation and ship operations.

You must do MCA courses in order to get any commercial certification at sea, but once you have them you are recognised as a competent mariner all over the world. This differs from most national certification as they are generally only recognised in certain geographical regions.

They are internationally recognised, and will allow the person to sail a vessel anywhere in the world. Typically you will go through this process if you want to be an officer, engineer or master on a super yacht.

What are your limits on passing their courses?

These depend on what your aim is. You can become qualified to sail anything from a 60ft racing yacht, via a 300ft tall ship to a 500ft billionaire’s toy.

Are the courses theory, practical or both?

All certifications have a theoretical element. Expect to do a lot of classroom work, but also gaining experience sailing vessels that you plan on working aboard professionally.

For instance, you may never be unlucky enough to be on a collision course with a hurricane at sea but you should be aware both how to navigate around it as an officer and what needs to be done aboard as a deckhand.

Where the master will spend many hours of theoretical passage planning to cross an ocean, the deckhand will spend a lot of time learning what the internationally agreed shapes, lights and marks are on various buoys and harbour markers.

Both deckhand and officer will do a significant amount of practical work as part of their courses.

Can you do these in another country?

You can take the courses anywhere in the world with MCA accreditation to offer them. Though primarily they are held in the UK, Malta and other islands, you can all consider some courses in the Caribbean.

What level of experience do you need before you take MCA courses?

Depending on what courses you wish to do, you will have to have a certain level of experience. Even if you are expected to have no experience, you should have a love of the sea and determination to do it.

For example, you need no experience at all to do the courses around an entry level job such as deckhand, but you will need several thousand sea miles to do any officer of the watch or master’s certificate.

How long do they take?

Courses take between a week and two weeks to complete. Overall, expect to get fully qualified in six months with a full diary of gaining the experience, sitting the exams and doing the courses to become fully qualified to the level you seek.

What do the MCA qualifications involve?

This is a hard one to cover in a few sentences! You must do specific courses related to the requirements of the UN Standards of Training and Certification for Watchkeeping at sea (STCW) Convention. You will have to meet certain health and fitness requirements as well.

These qualifications are designed to help you reach the internationally recognised level of competence required as a professional seafarer. You may specialise as a deckhand, an engineer, officer of watch or master. There is a definite career progression as with all walks of life. The more knowledge you accrue the better you will be.

The MCA requirements are internationally agreed standards to ensure that all commercial seafaring is done to a minimum standard and to ensure the safety at sea of all those who go to sea as passengers, trainees and as seafarers.

Do they give you international accreditation?

Yes, they are recognised around the world. Unlike the IYT and national leisure certifications, the certification is internationally agreed and automatically accepted. thus allowing you to sail on international waters.

Where can You learn more about these courses?

Have a look around our website for more information as to when and where to do the MCA courses.

Also have a look at this RYA webpage for a better idea as to what is required of you to do a professional seafaring qualification. This will  cover any disabilities (such as poor eyesight) that may impede your progression through the ranks of professional seafaring.

Useful Links;

Official MCA Website;

MCA Code of Practice;

Training & Certification;

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