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What Is a Second Mate and How to Become One

What Is a Second Mate?

The second mate, or second officer, is the third-highest position on a ship. As a second mate, your job duties include keeping watch, overseeing navigational procedures, preparing voyage plans, and serving as an understudy for the first and second ranking officers on the ship. In general, you need considerable experience working on a ship before being considered for a second mate job, having already honed your skills working through the ranks. You’re in charge of other crew members in your role as the second mate, making leadership skills crucial. You also need to get your second mate license and, depending on the company, additional certifications to prove your qualifications for this career.

How to Become a Second Mate

To become a second mate on a ship, you usually must start in an entry-level position as a deckhand of a vessel with a merchant mariner credential (MMC). You typically must work more than a thousand hours and hold a Transportation Workers Identification Credential to become eligible for an officer position. Some choose to complete a training program or earn a bachelor’s degree from a marine academy that specializes in merchant vessels to pass the necessary exams to become an officer. Through further training, you work your way up to the duties of a second mate. Excellent hand-eye coordination, physical strength, and mechanical skills are vital to this role.