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Roles at the PLA

Come and join us in our work to promote and protect the country’s largest port and busiest inland waterway.


Representing around a quarter of our workforce, pilots are the backbone of the PLA, playing a key role in keeping London and the surrounding area supplied with key goods, such as food and fuel.

Their job is to help guide larger visiting vessels in and out of port, which means they have to board and disembark mid river at all times of night and day, all year round.

Intensive, on-the-job training is needed to build up the specialist knowledge of the river that the role requires.

Recruits need to have served previously as a master, or second in command of a ship.


Our harbour master team manages a fleet of vessels, working to keep all river users safe. To join them, you’ll need significant experience in managing marine operations, supported by a recognised qualification, such as a UK Harbour Masters certificate.

Experience of formal risk assessment processes is essential. Familiarity with port safety management systems and legislation is highly desirable.


This team oversees all river traffic 24 hours a day to ensure the safety of all river users. It’s a role that requires specialist training and qualifications related to the systems we use to communicate with and monitor the position of vessels on the river.


This team undertakes a wide range of duties across our fleet of vessels, including operating machinery, afloat and onshore, such as cranes and forklift trucks, and removing trees and other debris from the river.

This role requires a broad knowledge of seamanship skills as well as the river and its access points. As one of the key public facing roles, you will be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the PLA and responsible for interacting with the public in varied circumstances whilst upholding the PLA’s values and bylaws.


Our civil engineering team designs and maintains all the physical infrastructure that keep the port running 24 hours a day, including our piers, jetties, radar towers, lighthouses and office facilities.

To join the team, you will need a civil engineering degree, a project management qualification, and be able to demonstrate strong planning, problem-solving and communication skills, both written and oral.


A team of PLA technicians maintains our fleet of vessels and other plant, based in our workshop at Denton, Gravesend.

To join them, an HNC or apprenticeship in a relevant engineering discipline is needed, along with a driving licence and ability to work as part of a team.

To join as a fully skilled technician, at least two years’ experience is required.


This team is responsible for maintaining our network of technology and equipment that help us keep the river safe, responding swiftly to any faults that occur.

Recruits need to be educated to degree level in a relevant subject, with a detailed understanding of telecommunications systems and radar technology.

They need to be customer-focussed, flexible and self-motivated.

The role often involves working at height. A driving licence is required too.


Working closely with operators and regulators, our environment team leads our work to improve sustainability on the river.

This involves promoting habitats for wildlife, as well as initiatives to combat litter and pollution, such as the Thames Green Scheme and our Environment Fund.

The entry requirement for roles in the team are: a relevant degree, postgraduate qualification and professional institution membership, paired with experience of environmental issues, preferably in a river-based port.


Managing our financial affairs is a key part of our operations.

Good numeracy and literacy are core requirements, alongside a bookkeeper qualification and two years’ experience of financial accounting.

We also look for good knowledge of the computer systems and software we use, such as Excel spreadsheets.


Surveys of the river bed, secured using the latest technology, including drones, enables our Hydrographic team to produce accurate navigational charts for both internal and external customers.

This requires a good knowledge of the techniques involved and the national and international standards and quality assurance systems that apply.

You’ll need to be a highly organised, flexible, resilient and motivated problem solver, with good attention to detail.

Computer literacy and communication skills are also needed, along with experience of handling boats.


Strategic regeneration and development control issues related to the river and the port, including transport matters, are the focus for our planning team.

A job with them requires a relevant degree, postgraduate qualification and professional institution membership.

Find Your Career at the Port of London Authority