Launched for life

In the last in this series, we outline the opportunities we offer that young people can draw on during and beyond their Sea Cadets Experience

Young people have the chance to enjoy many different things during the time that they spend with us. Many cadets transition from our juniors programme to become a sea cadet. From the age of 12, juniors and new starters become senior cadets, starting as a new entry cadet (if they are new to Sea Cadets), and going on to Petty Officer Cadet – the highest rate they can achieve – until they age out at 18.

What are some of the qualifications that sea cadets can achieve? 

Many of our specialisations and proficiencies also offer qualifications as part of the activities that cadets can take part in, from Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Sailing, British Rowing and British Canoeing to vocational BTEC qualifications. With some additional work, cadets can also gain other nationally recognised qualifications, like the ILM Level 2 Young Leaders and Effective Team Members Skills awards.  

Many cadets become cadet instructors, passing on what they’ve learned to younger cadets and peers. We also run a popular Sea Cadet Peer Educator course, designed to support cadets’ personal development and help them learn how to work together, become a better instructor and be an all-round team player. 

As well as learning something new and having fun, these qualifications also open doors to future career opportunities.

Are there events that sea cadets take part in?  

Sea cadets represent the charity and its supporters at various events across the UK. Each year, cadets travel from far and wide to Trafalgar Square in London to celebrate one of the most important military victories in history – when Admiral Lord Nelson defeated the French and Spanish navies off Cape Trafalgar, in 1805.  More than 500 young people attend, including Sea Cadets, Army Cadet Force and the RAF Air Cadets, taking part in spectacular displays and an impressive parade. Click here to find out about this year’s parade. 

Cadets march through London
Cadets march past Buckingham Palace

Cadets can also get involved in the Cadet Conference and cadet forums at a unit, district or area level, which give cadets an opportunity to share their ideas and views with the charity. 

Cadets across the UK also take part in Remembrance Day ceremonies and other local and high-profile community events throughout the year. 

Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards

Sea Cadets is one of many youth organisations licensed as a National Operating Authority for the Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award. The award is the world’s leading achievement programme for young people, designed to promote and reward personal and social development, and works really well alongside the Sea Cadet Experience. Many of the activities completed as part of the Sea Cadet Experience qualify for the levels of the award. 

A young boy windsurfing
Many Sea Cadets activities count towards a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Going offshore 

For some cadets the opportunity to go offshore on one or more of our fleet of vessels is the pinnacle of their time with Sea Cadets. Offshore voyages give cadets the full crew experience, which is both exhilarating and challenging, as well as an opportunity to put everything they have learnt about sailing and seamanship to the test! 

A group of cadets on board TS Royalist

As part of the Sea Cadets Experience, it’s our aim that during their time with Sea Cadets, all cadets get the opportunity to spend at least one week offshore in a power vessel, and another in a sailing vessel.

“My daughter went on a voyage on TS Royalist last week and had the most amazing time. She is full of praise for the crew, had a wonderful time with the other cadets and learned so much. She has some fabulous memories to keep”



Sea cadets can take part in a variety of annual competitions from district to area level, from every type of boating to drill and piping, and shooting to name but a few. These lead onto our national competitions, held around the country at some prestigious venues such as the Tower of London for our National Band Competition. At all levels cadets get to showcase the knowledge, experience and skills they have gained.

A group of cadets rowing

At a glance

From age ranges to ranks, juniors to royal marines cadets, competitions to qualifications, the poster below (available to download here) lays out the Sea Cadets Experience and the opportunities available for the path you choose. 

Sea Cadets Experience poster showing progression

Badges: rising up the ranks

All cadets receive this badge upon completion of the New Entry syllabus.
Cadet First Class
Received on completion of the Cadet syllabus with a recommended minimum age of 13 years. 
Ordinary Cadet (OC)
Received on completion of Cadet First Class syllabus with a recommended minimum age of 14 years.
Leading Cadet (LC)
Received on completion of AC syllabus, Basic Peer Educator Course and Leading Cadet Promotion Board.
Petty Officer Cadet (POC)
Received on completion of LC syllabus, Advance Peer Educator Course and POC Promotion Board.

More Features

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Proud to parade

The National Trafalgar Day Parade is one of our biggest events. Some of those who were there share their experiences of taking part

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Making a splash

We headed down to the National Combined Regatta at London’s Royal Victoria Docks to chat to some of the cadets, volunteers and staff who were there


Summer fun

Our summer camps are one of the highlights of the Sea Cadets Experience, so we went behind the scenes to sample the adventure!