Deck Hand (Able Seaman)





What is a Deck Hand (Able Seaman)? 

The main job of a Deck Hand or Able Seaman is to stand watch on the bridge or at the wheel house.

They help the Desk Officer by steering the ship according to the Desk Officer’s instructions.  

When not ‘on watch’ the Deck Hand will assist with:

  • routine maintenance
  • painting
  • cleaning
  • and helping with any other jobs required on the ship

What does a Deck Hand (Able Seaman) do?

  • perform ‘on watch’ duties
  • assist the desk officer with the running of the ship
  • assist with painting, cleaning, routine maintenance etc

Are you . . . ?

  • passionate about working at sea?
  • a team player?
  • responsible
  • reliable?
  • good with your hands?
  • a person with good vision?

How do I become a Deck Hand (Able Seaman)? 

TETA suggests the following: 

Certificate of Competence: Able Seaman (SAMSA)

In order to qualify with a certificate of competence (able seaman) you will be required to 12 months approved sea service on ships of 100GRT on unlimited voyages or near costal voyages. You will need to complete on-board training and shore-based training and will be assessed accordingly. 

Please note:

Qualification requirements for deckhands are different in the fishing industry


For approved training programmes


  • Preference will be given to those with Grade 12 with Maths & Science
  • Good physical condition.
  • No colour blindness. (You will have to get a Vision Certificate for the SA Maritime Safety Authority SAMSA)
  • Be able to swim


  • TETA


OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER: Aircraft Assembler or Engineering Officer

Is becoming a Deck Hand (Able Seaman) right career choice for me?

See below for more info.