Dynamic positioning operator

Transport, distribution and logistics

Career outlook for dynamic positioning operator

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would use computer systems to control a ship so it can stay in one position and remain stable in the sea.

Your vessel could be a ship or a semi-submersible involved in:

  • Supplying offshore oil and gas platforms
  • Drilling operations
  • Laying pipes on the seabed
  • Setting up renewable energy sources like wind or tidal turbines
  • Doing oceanographic research

Your work would be important because if the vessel moves too much as these activities are going on it could be very dangerous for the people doing the work.

The computer system takes in information from sensors which measure the strength of the wind, currents and waves. It uses this data, along with information about the weight of the vessel, to calculate how to adjust the propellers, thrusters and rudders to stop the ship from moving too far forward, backwards, sideways or up and down.

You would:

  • Check the navigation details for the required position
  • Monitor the dynamic positioning computer
  • Make sure that the floating unit or ship automatically corrects its position
  • Check the systems work correctly and test them
  • Keep the log book up to date
  • Take action in an emergency

You would use specialist techniques and equipment including acoustics and global positioning systems (GPS) to get the right location.

Working conditions


You would work in shifts to ensure that one of your team is on duty at all times.


You may need to work on deck in bad weather.


If you work offshore in Scotland you may be away from home for several weeks at a time. Other contracts may take you abroad for several months.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Working with numbers
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Time management
  • Making decisions
  • Taking responsibility
  • Analysing

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You would usually start within the Merchant Navy as a Navigation (Deck) Officer completing a Modern Apprenticeship with specialist Merchant Navy training at college. 

Once qualified you can work towards a Dynamic Positioning Operator’s Certificate.

You usually require a minimum of four National 5 qualifications (SCQF Level 5) to be eligible to enter any courses approved by the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) such as the City of Glasgow College National Certificate/National Qualification.

To enter the Higher National Certificate at the University of Highlands and Islands or the Higher National Diploma at City of Glasgow College requires National 5 qualifications and one to two Highers or relevant NC/NQ.

To enter a Scottish Professional Diploma you will require 120 UCAS points from two or more Highers; these must include either Physics or Mathematics.

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by most employers)
  • Physics (required by most employers)
  • Technologies (required by most employers)
  • English (required by most employers)
  • Other science subjects
  • Geography
  • Engineering
  • ICT
  • Modern languages

You will also need

Once in a job, to progress in rank, you will have to hold a relevant Certificate of Competency which is issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show relevant skills such as Skills for Work: Maritime Skills National 5 (SCQF level 5) or Uniformed and Emergency Services (SCQF Level 4) will be helpful when applying.

Work-based qualifications such as the Scottish Vocational Qualification in Maritime Occupations (SVQ level 5).