Deck Hand (Oiler)



What is a Deck Hand (Oiler)? 

An Oiler is a junior or entry-level position. Oilers usually work in the engineering section (engine room) of a ship. The main job of an Oiler is to oil all the machinery.

This job’s being slowly phased out because machinery is becoming more technical or computerised and there’s less machinery needing oiling. It is however, a stepping stone to careers at sea. 

Oilers may also help with fuel transfers and will require fire-fighting and first aid training.

What does a Deck Hand (Oiler) do?

  • take direction from engineers
  • oil require parts of ship’s machinery
  • help with fuel transfers
  • assist with any other task in the engine room

Are you . . . ?

  • passionate about working at sea?
  • a team player?
  • reliable?
  • responsible?
  • willing to learn?
  • safety conscious?
  • mechanically minded?

How do I become a Deck Hand (Oiler)?

TETA suggests the following:

Certificate of Competence: Oiler (SAMSA)


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.

In order to qualify with a certificate of competence (oiler) 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.

  • TETA


OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER: Engineering Officer or Aircraft Mechanic

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

See below for more info.


Maths Required Qualification Required Science Required