The UK’s an island nation, and its shipping has always been important, so maritime security is big business. Indeed, since the discovery of the North Sea oil and gas fields, a further maritime sector has developed within UK waters.
Maritime security jobs offer a great variety of placements across the world as well as closer to home. The well publicised recent issues around piracy and protecting shipping one of many opportunities for trained security personnel personnel overseas.
Protecting our shipping and maritime assets has never been more important, and you’ll find well-paid, rewarding roles in this sector if you’ve got the right skills and experience.
Maritime Security Jobs – quick links
Skills required to work in maritime security
Maritime security opportunities
Maritime security is protecting all forms of maritime assets. This could range from the security needs of the UK’s ports to security details on-board cruise ships and super yachts.
Then there’s protection against piracy. No longer freak occurrences, modern-day piracy is more of a problem than it has been for decades, and the call for skilled maritime security specialists has never been higher.
This all means that you’ll find a diverse range of work opportunities offered with maritime security jobs.
As well as manned security roles, there’s a place for systems commissioners, operations managers, systems installers and more, so a UK maritime security job could be your next career move.
The skill set you need to work in maritime security depends on the role. However, if you’re considering manned security roles at sea, then this calls for a particular type of person.
Skills for manned maritime security roles
Like all manned security jobs, you’ll need to be level-headed, disciplined and self-motivated to work in maritime security.
You’ll most likely to need to:
- be SSO qualified (Ship Security Officer) or similar maritime security training
- have an ex-military background (the high-risk anti-piracy roles usually call for between 4-6 years’ experience in naval or special forces work)
- have evidence of working at sea (if you don’t there are courses you can take to get you up to speed)
You’re also likely to be away from home for potentially long periods, or at least to have a transient lifestyle with stints at sea before breaks back on dry land. It doesn’t suit everyone, but if you’ve got a sense of adventure and are highly flexible and dependable, maritime security jobs could be perfect for you.
A military background is almost certainly essential for many positions, and will prepare you for the discipline and moving around and mean you’re likely to have the necessary mindset and skills. It goes without saying that for the highest-risk work in places like the Horn of Africa firearms training is a must.
It’s also essential to take the ENG1 Seafarers Medical test or equivalent and have all the right vaccinations for working at sea.
Perhaps the most widely-known side of maritime security is the specialist armed teams that accompany merchant shipping. However, as well as maritime security jobs in specialist manned guarding, there are opportunities throughout the sector for other specialist roles, for example CCTV operators, maritime security operations management, and installing, servicing and commissioning fire and security systems in maritime and port settings.
So whether you’re a trained security guard, close protection officer, or experienced at some of the more behind-the-scenes aspects of security, you’ll still find maritime security jobs to suit your skills.
You’ll find that many of the maritime security opportunities closer to home are based around the gas and oil industries. Aberdeen is a major centre from drilling and excavating operations, but there are also chances to work elsewhere in the UK, for example from port cities like Portsmouth or Plymouth. The nature of the business means you’ll often need to be flexible and ready to move around at short notice, however.
There are not only opportunities in British waters but also a good deal of international maritime security jobs, suited to flexible, adventurous and skilled security professionals.
Indeed, there’s a growing demand for security personnel to work on shipping around the Horn of Africa. Much-publicised incidents of modern day pirates off the coast of Somalia have made shipping companies extremely wary, and the security of their cargoes and crew is now a top priority. Ex-service personnel are ideally suited to this kind of disciplined, overseas work. Of course, it come with risks, but the remuneration reflects this. Proper training is essential in this dangerous but rewarding work.
However, shipboard opportunities don’t just need to be on cargo vessels – there’s work for trained Ship Security Officers (SSOs) on-board cruise liners, too. Dealing with the security of your ship, crew and, crucially, passengers, brings new challenges and responsibilities.
Big maritime security organisations also have opportunities for Company Security Officers, overseeing the security of their fleets. There’s also work for watchkeepers, manning communications equipment and relaying information between teams from shore bases. Plus there’s a whole host of other support roles.
As the work is so varied, you can’ really give an average for maritime security salaries. What is true, though, is that offshore work will almost always pay more than its on-land equivalent due to the extra skills and experience needed, along with the added risks.
For example, a member of an armed on-board security team on an anti-piracy detail can command several hundred pounds a day.
Security guards on cruise ships, meanwhile, can get around £2,000 a month in offshore untaxed earnings, plus accommodation and all food typically included.
Ship Security Officers on large vessels, meanwhile, can earn considerably more, dependant on the size of the vessel, the number of passengers or type of cargo, the route and how many members of the ship’s security team they’re responsible for.
Company Security Officers are important members of a shipping company’s staff. Wages reflect this. They can easily earn £60,000 plus, depending on how large and complex the organisation is.
If you’re looking for work in non-manned roles like operations management or installing and maintenance then you’ll find maritime security salaries are on a par with their counterparts in other sectors.
All UK-registered ships are required by law to have a trained Ship Security Officer, and all shipping outfits will also employ properly trained security staff onshore. In addition all marine security staff will need specialist training to cope with the demands of the job.
If you’re a licensed security guard or close protection officer this will be helpful in your manned maritime security, but will only get you so far. To get the lucrative assignments working on-board merchant vessels around place like the Horn of Africa a military or specialist police background, with extensive firearms experience, is essential. Armed response teams can leave nothing to chance, and only disciplined, experienced security personnel will make it in this role.
In addition, there are several specialist training courses, which most employers will insist on you having for many maritime security jobs. Whatever the course, always check if it is accredited with the Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) standards. If not, or if you’ve got foreign qualifications, check they comply with Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) standards.
Ship Security Officer (SSO)
The benchmark UK maritime security qualification is Ship Security Officer (SSO), which can usually be completed in 3 days and costs around £700. It covers all aspects of international maritime security, including:
- Ship Security Officer responsibilities
- the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) Code
- ship security assessments
- on-board risk assessments
- threat identification and reaction
- anti-piracy measures
- anti-terrorism training
If you’re serious about working in manned maritime security, then to get on you’re almost certain to need to take the SSO course or equivalent sometime in your career. Make sure the training provider you use is accredited with the Marine and Coastguard Agency.
Other manned maritime security qualifications
It’s also usually essential to have the basic STCW95 seafarers certification to help get you maritime security jobs at sea. However, it’s recognised that not all applicants will have experience of the maritime environment. In this case there are specialist training courses available to convert your skills to an on-board environment.
For example, the Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD) qualification covers much of the same ground as normal SSO training. It’s the first step to maritime security roles if you’re experienced in security but not worked at sea before. Courses cost around £700.
For security staff working in ports and onshore marine facilities, the Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO) training is a must.
First aid training
Non-manned maritime security training
For other roles, the appropriate training for that profession is likely to also be relevant in the maritime environment. So if you’re an accredited SIA security guard or close protection officer this will help you find work in security teams at ports and shipping warehouses, for example.
If you’re looking for work as watchkeeper at a shore base, it would also still be to your advantage to have worked at sea.
There are plenty of maritime security jobs in the UK and overseas with opportunities requiring diverse skills and qualifications.