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An apprenticeship with us could be your ticket to a career working to protect the tidal River Thames - the country’s busiest inland waterway. 

Why not join us, looking after the river from, Putney to the North Sea?

Our job is to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the river, for work or pleasure. We oversee port, passenger, and freight operations, as well as big events, such as The Boat Race. We also preserve and protect the river’s environment for future generations.


  • There are a wide range of apprenticeships available, ranging from 1 to 3 years.
  • Your progress is logged in a training record book.
  • Once you have achieved a satisfactory level of competency, you will have to take part in a final assessment to complete the apprenticeship.
  • This final assessment, or end point assessment (EPA) is a combination of practical observation and a discussion about your progress.
  • Becoming an apprentice is only the start of your career with the PLA. If you choose to progress and train for a role that requires external qualifications, such as the Boatmasters’ Licence, the PLA can offer ongoing support and guidance.


  • Starting annually in September, full-time apprenticeships with the PLA typically last two years, with a minimum of 20% “off-the-job” training.
  • You’ll need at least four GCSEs, or equivalent (grade A to C, level 9-3).
  • You must be at least 18 years old when your apprenticeship starts.
  • A driving licence – or willingness to get one - is also essential for marine operative apprentices.

Key Facts

  • Based: Gravesend, Kent
  • Salary: £11,869
  • 35-hour week
  • Annual leave: 28 days
  • Benefits include private healthcare


To apply, please complete an application form (Word, PDF) and send it to [email protected]. If you have any enquiries, please email [email protected].


Many of our apprentices have secured long-term jobs with us, working on the river in a wide variety of roles, from divers to managers.

Rosie Arrowsmith’s apprenticeship led to her qualifying to become a PLA marine servicing technician. She hopes to progress to a manager role.

Clemence Barbey, the 2022 Workboat Association Industry Apprentice of the Year and now a PLA deckhand, is looking to study for further qualifications to advance in her marine career and becoming a skipper.

Scarlett Barnett Smith, a former marine operative apprentice, is now studying for a cadetship at Warsash Maritime School, which we have co-sponsored. Her mission is to join our team of pilots, who guide visiting vessels safely, in and out of port.

Ted Jones, now a deckhand in our Harbour Master team, recently achieved his boat masters license and is aiming to become a skipper. He says family support is important.

Daniel Easter’s marine engineering apprenticeship has led him to become a trainee in our team looking after navigational equipment on the river. He aims to grow within NavSys and become a full Technical Support Engineer, fixing and maintaining the systems and equipment behind port control.

Shannon White wants her PLA website and social media apprenticeship, studying at London South Bank University, to help her forge a career in digital marketing.

Find Your Career at the Port of London Authority