Ports & Harbours

We are an island nation, so almost everything you use, eat or wear will have come through a UK port. Every year, more than 20 million passengers and 500 million tonnes of cargo move through UK ports – 95% of our international trade.

There are ports, harbours and marinas all the way round our coast supporting a wide range of uses like:

  • the import of oil and gas, and support for our fast-growing offshore wind industry
  • container ships
  • lots of other freight traffic like cars, chemicals, paper and steel
  • ferries and cruise ships
  • Royal Navy
  • leisure

That variety means that ports and harbours offer a wide range of type of career:

  • Operations – port operations and plant, with increasing use of the latest technology to move goods efficiently and in the most environmentally-friendly way
  • Engineering – mechanical, electrical, civil, design, fabrication and welding
  • IT, data and technology
  • Marine – hydrography, pilotage, harbour master, vessel traffic services (the marine equivalent of air traffic control)
  • Logistics – warehousing and transport
  • Health and safety
  • Marketing and communications
  • Finance and accounting
  • Legal
  • Administration and security
  • Planning and licensing
  • Environmental
  • Property

Ports offer apprenticeships, graduate traineeships and other training programmes, with qualifications developed specifically to support the wide range of sophisticated, modern, services offered across the country. Ports work hard to keep these programmes up-to-date as technology advances. 

More information

Port Skills and Safety

British Ports Association

Reviewed June 2023