Course Info

Diploma of Maritime Operations (Watchkeeper Deck)

National Course Code: MAR50315


The nationally accredited Diploma of Maritime Operations (Watchkeeper Deckhand) is your passport to life on international waters as a 2nd or 3rd Deck Officer. Use your sense of adventure and natural navigation ability to challenge yourself and take the next step in your maritime career.


Through theory and practical course work, you will strengthen your abilities:

  • Manage on-ship needs including inventory, budgets and procurement
  • Lead your crew in watchkeeping, ship operations and maintaining equipment
  • Manage vessel, navigation, cargo and safety in international waters using radar and other equipment


Develop the personal attributes that will help you get ahead:

  • Establish your leadership style
  • Effective communication to create clarity in high pressure situations
  • Resilience to face the challenges of life on the sea


Completing this course will provide you with:

  • Eligibility to apply for a Watchkeeper Deck Certificate through AMSA
  • Strong pathway to a degree and an Master Unlimited AMSA certificate

Career opportunities:

  • Watchkeeper deck officer on ships of any gross tonnage in any operating area
  • Junior officer
  • 3rd and 2nd Deck Officer


Complete this course and gain your AMSA Watchkeeper Deck Certificate to access a degree pathway with University of Tasmania Australian Maritime College.

TAFE NSW Newcastle has an articulation partnership agreement with the UTAS AMC to deliver the third year of a Bachelor of Applied Studies (Nautical Science). This pathway provides eligibility for a Master Unlimited Certificate issued by AMSA.


Maritime employers report skills shortages in the industry, which makes now a great time to advance your maritime career with this qualification.

This course is superseded. You can still enrol in this course, and you will be contacted if you need to transition into the next version when it is available.

Course details

People who are successful in this field are:

  • Strong leaders with the ability manage a small crew
  • Resilient enough to face the challenges of life on the sea and on board any size of ship

Assessments give you the opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned so far and to identify what knowledge or skills need further development. In this course you will undertake:

  • Knowledge assessments: short answer questions, assignments, closed book exams, multiple choice questions
  • Skills assessments: demonstration under observation with oral questioning on a simulated work environment

This is the minimum qualification required to work as a deck officer on international ships.

Yes - section staff will arrange off-campus excursions to complement your training including firefighting drills and survival at sea practicals.

You will gain hands-on experience in:

  • Managing your crew
  • Managing a procurement and maintenance budget
  • Forecasting needs for inventory - food, drinking water, fuel
  • Navigation skills
  • Sea survival skills - at an Olympic size swimming pool you will learn life jacket techniques, jumping from a height and while swimming, helping others in distress, procedures to follow when an order to abandon vessel is given
  • Ship handling skills
  • Fire prevention and minimisation procedures
  • Fighting a fire on board a vessel - at a firefighting facility learn to operate fire extinguishers, breathing apparatus, and how to control a crowd
  • Seamanship skills - identifying and applying the specific knot needed for the task, practicing different types of knots and hitches to effectively tether a boat

TAFE NSW is known for delivering up-to-date theory along with relevant, in-demand skills to ensure you are job ready.

In this course you will work on real-world projects, to develop your navigation and ship handling skills on the Newcastle Ship Bridge Simulator.

TAFE NSW offers you a range of online and on-campus study environments - industry specific computer rooms, simulated workplaces, study areas, presentation areas and general student facilities - to enhance your learning and employability.

TAFE NSW Newcastle Maritime offers a range of training facilities such as a Bridge Simulator, modern classrooms, campus library with maritime hard copy and e-resources, as well as an Olympic-sized swimming pool for survival at sea practicals and firefighting facilities for situations relating to emergency procedures.

As per the Maritime IRC key finding paper Feb 2018, 75% of maritime employers reported experiencing a skills shortage in the industry, this also includes international shipping.

The marine workforce is ageing and Australia is experiencing a maritime skills shortage. This leads to skills shortage of marine pilots, tug masters and various other shore based roles in maritime industry.

Over 75% of maritime employers report experiencing a skills shortage in the industry, primarily in international commercial vessel occupations. Increasing shortages makes now a great time to advance your maritime career with this qualification.

  • Nationally Recognised Training
  • Apprenticeship Allowed

This course is superseded

Browse our courses