Dynamic Positioning Operator

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Dynamic positioning (DP) is a system which controls a ship's position and stability while at sea, using its propellers and thrusters. A dynamic positioning operator (DPO) is a specialist post within the Merchant Navy; they are primary watch keeper at the DP control desk, operating and monitoring the DP system and monitoring logistic operations around the vessel.

The Work

You could be:


The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:

The scale for a junior DPO starts at around £28,000 per year, rising to around £65,000 per year. Salaries can sometimes be higher, depending on the area of work and location. The employer provides food and accommodation while at sea. It is common for pay to be a daily rate as contracts can last for a few weeks or months at a time, rather than being a permanent job with a yearly salary. Day rates can range from £210 to £400 a day.


Workforce Employment Status

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Getting In

DPOs work for the Merchant Navy as deck or navigation officers. A list of employers is on the Merchant Navy Training Board website. A lot of jobs are in the offshore oil and gas industry.

Workforce Education Levels (UK)

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Job Outlook Scotland


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Job Outlook Scotland

1.5 %

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What Does it Take?

You need to have:


Once qualified as a deck officer, the trainee works towards a Dynamic Positioning Operator’s Certificate accredited by the Nautical Institute. There are two DP training schemes: Offshore and Shuttle Tanker. This is to enable certification for different types and classes of vessel.

Both training schemes involve:

Specific components for each scheme are available on the Nautical Institute website.

Getting On

The Merchant Navy has a clearly defined promotion structure for DPOs which entails attending college from time to time to gain more qualifications. You start off as junior dynamic positioning operator and move on to senior DPO. You can also become a dynamic positioning instructor.

Experienced deck officers are in demand for both onshore and offshore positions, with shipping companies, port authorities, maritime insurance companies and shipping brokers. Officers can also use their skills to transfer to managerial roles in other industrial and commercial sectors.


The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA)
Tel: 020 7824 5520
Twitter: @IMCAint

Maritime UK
Tel: 0333 050 3663
Twitter: @MaritimeUK

Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB)
Website (2):
Twitter: @careersatsea

The MNTB can provide information on the shipping companies and training groups which operate training schemes for ratings and officer cadets. The MNTB websites also have useful careers information.

Nautical Institute
Tel: 020 7928 1351
Twitter: @NauticalInst

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