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Pilotage FAQs

Considering applying for a career as a Pilot at the Port of London Authority? We've asked recent joiners trainee Pilots Joshua Tanton and Matthew Lloyd to share their insights on the onboarding process and the first few months.

Joshua Tanton

Q. How are you finding the training?

A. The training is intense but it has been great working alongside and getting to know the pilots who have been incredibly forthcoming with their advice and wisdom.

Q. What do you like about the job so far?

A. The complexity of the district and huge variation of vessel types working the river.

Q. What’s the most interesting ship you’ve been on?

A. Every new vessel type that I haven’t been able to experience at sea is interesting to me as each vessel type has its own operational and handling differences.

Q. How did you find the application process when you applied?

A. The application process is explained well on the PLA website and communication was good throughout. I was kept up to date at each stage and after the interview was offered the position the next day.

Q. What advice would you have for anyone considering applying?

A. Learn as much about the job, the river and the PLA as you can before applying. There is a wealth of useful information available on the Pilotage section.

Matthew Lloyd

Q. What made you want to become a Pilot at PLA?

A. Becoming a marine pilot felt like a natural progression of my career as a master mariner and by working for the Port of London Authority I knew I would have the opportunity to pilot a vast array of ships on one of the most challenging tidal pilotage districts in the UK.

Q. How are you finding the training?

A. I’ve found the training to be great thus far. My new colleagues across the organisation have been very welcoming and incredibly open-handed with passing on their knowledge and insight. Training during a global pandemic has been challenging at times, however the support from the PLA has been excellent.

Q. What do you like about the job so far?

A. The great sense of job satisfaction I feel when I’ve taken a ship safely from the pilot station to alongside her berth up river.

Q. What’s it like working on the Thames?

A. I’ve found it to be an enjoyable and dynamic place to work where no two jobs have been the same.

Q. What’s the most interesting ship you’ve been on?

A. There have been several but from a technical point of view, the most interesting ship I’ve tripped on has been Spirit of Discovery because I have never worked on an azipod ship during my career at sea.

Q. How did you find the application process when you applied?

A. Quite straight forward, I encountered no issues.

Q. What advice would you have for anyone considering applying?

A. From what I’ve experienced so far, working as a marine pilot for the PLA is a great career choice so if you’re considering applying then I would suggest you do so.

Other frequently asked questions

How long is the training period?

The training period last 28 weeks. You will have exams at week 22, 24 and 26.

Can I finish the training and be qualified earlier than the schedule indicates?

Unfortunately not. Your ‘trainee’ period is carefully scheduled well in advance of your start date, including time on the simulator and exams. There’s a lot to learn, and we don’t want to rush the process.

Is there anything I can read before I begin training which will give me useful background knowledge about the process?

The PLA website will be invaluable resource:

Can my start date be brought forward?

No. Our recruitment intakes and training periods are arranged well in advanced.

How much leave can I take during my training period?

You get 28 days leave per year and this will be pro rata’d at your start date. The maximum leave you can take during your training period is 10 days.

Also read:

• The Role of a Pilot

It’s a challenging career that requires rigour, determination and commitment. You’ll be responsible for vessels from all over the world.

• Our Pilot Training Programme

During your training, we will provide ongoing professional support, as you acquire the skills needed to become a Port of London pilot.

• Meet Our Trainees

Recent recruits share their insights on joining the PLA.

• FAQs

Commonly asked questions about our Pilotage department.

• Benefits

As a Port of London Authority employee, you’ll have access to generous benefits.

• Application Process

How to submit an application and what happens after you apply.

• Pilot Recruitment

• PLA Pilotage Services