Career at Sea

Presently, one of the major problems of our country is unemployment. Parents are paying huge amount towards different professional courses for their children and even after completion of these courses they struggle to find good jobs. While Merchant navy is a profession where we are facing major shortage of quality officers. Presently there are about 1 lac Indian seafarers which constitute only 6% of the world’s seafaring population, whereas India has 16% of the world’s population. Therefore India’s share in shipping industry of the world should be atleast 16%. However, to achieve this in future, we need a growth of 20% per annum for the next 10 years. Indian officers are more in demand compared to rest of the world for their skills, knowledge, integrity and reliability.


Unfortunately, the knowledge of the subject “What is Merchant Navy & How to join”, is limited to the privilege of few people who already have their relatives and friends in this industry. Taking this into account some useful information about career in Merchant Navy is presented herein.


Merchant Navy is a non-combatant commercial fleet, which deals with transportation of cargo and passengers by sea. This comprises of ships such as passenger ships, liners, cargo ships, oil tankers, gas carriers, as well as other special types of ships. These ships may belong to Indian or foreign Shipping companies. In fact, Merchant Navy is the backbone of international trade of carrying cargo across the globe. Without merchant navy, most of the import-export business will grind to a halt.


Career At Sea


Merchant navy career options mainly include navigating officers, marine engineers and the department of hospitality. Three basic departments in Merchant Navy are Deck, Engine and Service Department. Thus there are many career options, which are available for any youngster, who has dreams to join merchant navy. Deck Department includes Captain, Chief Officer, Second Officer and Third Officer. Engine department consists of Chief Engineer, Second engineers, Junior engineers and Electricians. Service department manages kitchen, laundry, medical and other services.

A career in this profession is full of adventures and long voyages to the exotic places. On top of this, the excellent pay, excellent promotional opportunities and luxury of exploring the beautiful world with your actual presence therein, becomes an added advantage, despite being a challenging job. As an officer in Merchant Navy, one can expect a unique lifestyle that can take him/her anywhere in the world.

Modern safety management procedures advanced emergency communications and effective international rescue systems places mariners in a much safer position than earlier days. Ships are air conditioned and accommodation is well equipped with all modern amenities. As well as, modern ways of communication especially email, links modern mariners to their families.




Good Wages

Wages earned by seafarers are normally very generous compared to comfortable similar professions ashore. Seagoing officers are assured a very standard of living and are usually within the upper income bracket of their national populations. In Europe, a 22 years old working on a ship, newly qualified as a third officer, can earn a “take home” salary that is comparable to what many shore-based university graduates might hope to earn in their 30s.

In developing world countries, ships’ officers working on internationally trading ships are amongst the very highest paid in their countries. Opportunities for accumulating savings, even when young, are considerable (unlike most people, officers have relatively few expenses when working at sea as accommodation, travel and food are met by the employer).

The real value of wages may often be substantially greater because they are frequently tax free.

Officers who stay at sea can be promoted rapidly, eventually becoming a captain or chief engineer when wages can be very considerable indeed.
Wages obviously vary according to the country in which you live and the shipping company you work for. Some types of ship require specialized skills for which pay may be higher than others. More detailed information will be available from national sources.


Early Responsbility


Ships’ officers take on considerable responsibility right from the start of their careers. They ensure the safety of their ships, the live of their shipmates and protect of the marine environment.

Officer trainees usually learn the professional skills required through combining education at specialist instruction and practical training on ships and can expect to qualify as either a Deck or Engineer officer at the “Operational Level” with in 3 or 4 years of starting maritime education and training.

As a junior officer, reporting to senior officers, you will supervise the work of “ratings” – seafarers qualified at the “support Level” within 10 years of commencing specialist maritime education and training, it is possible to qualify as a captain with total responsibility for the operation of a ship and the management of its crew.


Opportunities for Global Travel


Although modern ships spend less time in port than 25 years ago, a career in shipping still means that you can literally travel to almost anywhere in the world, with the interest and experience this brings.

Many ships trade “anywhere”- not just the usual business or holiday destinations.
Because shipping is a unique international industry, it is common for seafarers to progress eventually to shore based work in shipping offices all around the world- from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, to Tokyo or London, the opportunities are endless.

By embarking on a career in shipping you are joining a special international network of contacts and associates.


There is a need for more qualified ships’ officer to meet the skills required by international shipping companies.

Industry predictions suggest that this requirement will increase in the next few years, especially if the world economy (and population) continues to expand as expected, and the quantity of goods moved by sea continues to increase.

Many senior personnel are shortly due to retire so there are excellent prospects of fast advancement for keen personnel.

Career opportunities extend to shore-based management jobs requiring people with seagoing experience. So a career at sea may not mean a lifetime at sea.


Career Flexibility & Security


Shipping is an ideal occupation for individuals seeking something exciting, but who also want to be confident of enjoying a traditional career should they wish in the future.
Today’s working environment is increasingly uncertain.


A career in shipping can combine security of employment with flexibility and opportunity.
Merchant ships’ officers hold internationally recognized qualifications meeting standard agreed by the United Nations.

Many seafarers work for shipping companies based in the countries where they live. But most officers are also qualified to work for the thousands of international shipping companies located all around the world, on ships flying the flag of most countries.
Other may decide only after a few years at sea to use their qualifications a experience to find employment in one of the large no professional jobs servicing the shipping industry- e.g. Shipping company management, marine surveying, maritime law and insurance, working as a broker finding cargoes for ships, or even buying and selling ships!
Skills and experience gained at sea readily transferable to other industries outside merchant shipping.


Long Holidays


In most jobs, it is normally only possible to take a maximum of two or three weeks holiday at one time once in a year, and total annual holidays are of course far less than you may be used to at college and school. In shipping, however, seafarers generally enjoy very generous leave or holiday periods (with the cost of return airlines flight paid by the company as an international legal requirement). Exact terms will vary, but on “short sea” trades a system of one month working followed by one month paid holiday is often applied. On intercontinental or “deep sea” trades, leave periods of several months’ duration are not uncommon. So while seafarers are inevitably away from home for long periods, they also enjoy flexibility to pursue other interest at home, or spend extended periods of time with their families.


Doing Something Exciting


A ship is a unique environment because it is home to those working on board, and there is a special relationship between seafarers, who enjoy a stimulating life which is different to the experience of people working ashore. Merchant seafaring is a civilian occupation. Although strict adherence to safe working practice is essential, team work is essential to creating a positive conducive working environment. There are many opportunities for socializing, both on board ships and during visits to foreign ports. Life of board ship can be very cosmopolitan, with many different nationalities of seafarer working together. Joining the shipping industry is actually like belonging to an international club.


The Satisfaction of Doing Something Useful


Today’s Competitive world sometimes makes it difficult to fully understand the value of most jobs. Shipping, however, is key to the global economy, responsible for carrying over 90% of the world’s trade. Without shipping the world economy would collapse. It would be impossible to transport the quantities of food, raw materials and manufactured products the world currently takes for granted. People working at sea have the satisfaction of knowing that shipping is also the safest and most environmentally friendly form of commercial transportation, and that they are playing a vital role in ensuring efficient global trade.