Job Prospects... At a glance
Job prospects for deckhands are quite good. Salaries are good, especially for more experienced workers. Employment is projected to increase over the next few years, This is an occupation where little theoretical education is required to get started, and most certifications are based on practical assessments.
Deckhands work on ships in coastal and international waters. They are the labourers who perform basic tasks around the ship. What tasks they perform depends on the type of ship they work on. On fishing vessels they typically work on catching and processing the fish, and doing maintenance on the vessel. On cargo vessels they help with loading, unloading and maintenance. On passenger vessels they can help attend to the passengers.
Their tasks may include:
There is no entry requirement to work as a deckhand. Deckhands can, however, obtain certificates that prove their competence. These are completed while working at sea. There are also pre-employment courses that can be useful for people seeking employment as a deckhand. Two relevant entry level certificates are Qualified Deck Crew (QDC), and Deck Watch Rating (DWR). Seafarer certification in New Zealand is the responsibility of Maritime New Zealand.
One way to get qualified as a deckhand is to apply directly to Maritime New Zealand after having completed the necessary training at sea, and then pass the final exam. There are also medical, character and other requirements that need to be met.
Another way to get certified is to do a pre-employment course at a polytechnic. This is good for people who are looking to get into the industry. There are also courses for people already employed in the maritime industry who want to gain a more advanced qualification.
Deckhands are also required to be medically fit and have good eyesight in order to get qualified.
|Certificate Application Fee|
*Fee varies for the different qualifications. Other costs may apply for training courses, medical examinations etc.
The least expensive way to train as a deckhand is to learn on the job and obtain the qualifications independently. Some employers will sponsor the cost of their employees’ qualifications.
Studying at a polytechnic may be more expensive, although some polytechnics may have zero-fees schemes.
Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.
The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.
The training pre-requirements for certificates can be completed on vessels in New Zealand or international waters.
Certificates and diplomas in maritime subjects are offered at different levels at Manukau Institute of Technology, Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Westport Deepsea Fishing School and Coastguard Boating Education.
The number of students completing a Level 4 certificate in ‘Marine Craft Operation’ has fluctuated over the last few years, but around 400 qualify at Levels 4 - 7 each year.
Qualification completions chart
Source: Ministry of Education
The average annual income for deckhands is estimated to be around $60,000. Inexperienced deckhands and new trainees are likely to start out at the minimum wage. Deckhands with more advanced qualifications will generally earn more money, and crew on larger ships generally earn more than crew on smaller ships.
|Estimated Average Income|
Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the wider category “Miscellaneous Labourers”.
The number of deckhands in employment fell slightly from 2006 to 2013. Employment is projected to increase by 2.6% until 2021, and thereafter by 1.6% to 2026. An additional 150 to 200 workers will also be required each year to replace older workers as they retire.
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections
Deckhands are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage lists.
Immigration NZ, skill shortage list: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz
Deckhand vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites. Employment in this industry can also be found by proactive job searching.
Deckhands can pursue further qualifications and move up the ranks on ships. They can complete qualifications that allow them to have more responsibility. After years of experience and further training some become skippers and ship’s officers.
Competenz have more information on career opportunities in the maritime industry.
The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level deckhands.
More information on deckhands is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" videos.
Careers New Zealand: www.careers.govt.nz
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Deep Sea Fishing - Deckhand
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Deep Sea Fishing - Engineering
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Deep Sea Fishing - Processing
The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.
The occupation of deckhands has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for their purpose of this report:
8992 – Deck and Fishing Hands