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Merchant Navy

Careers in the Merchant Navy (Shipping)


If you are a student of science and if your age is between 17 and 25, if you love the outdoors, if you have an aptitude for working hard, if you have a friendly disposition and if you do not like the idea of working on a desk from 9 to 5 then read on about an exciting career in the Merchant Navy.

Merchant Navy as a career option has been around for quite some time, but due to it being an industry within the niche sector, many students are not aware of the career option in this field. Merchant navy is the most exciting and lucrative career that can be offered to any young student as an option and it certainly is not a 9 to 5 job in the office. An officer at a very young age is given responsibilities that his peers ashore can only dream of and the remuneration is of course the best comparable to any of the top professions.

What is Merchant Navy?

The primary function of the Merchant navy is to transport goods from one place to another. It is the most essential component of world economy. More than 90% of goods are transported all over the world using ships.

Imagine a world without ships, no oil would reach refineries and all petrol pumps would be forced to shut down also all other transportation would shut down because they would not get their fuel.

Farmers all over the world would be devastated because fertilizers would not be available to their farms or worse a crop harvested in a place would not be able to reach the required market. Steel manufacturers and cloth manufactures would close down their industries and the world would go back to the Stone Age.

Yes you wouldn’t be reading this article because newsprint and the ink would not have made it to the printing press. Now that you know and have an idea of what the Merchant Navy is and how it affects your life, read more to know how you can make a career out of it.

Career options in the Merchant Navy

So what work do people do on board ships? Is life one big cruise for them? Let’s explore the possibility of a career in the Merchant Navy.

Ships carry passengers and cargo from one place to another, so they require to be loaded properly. Ships are also navigated and that requires a lot of skill, and since ships are made of steel and ply in saltwater they also need to be maintained from time to time all these jobs are carried out on board by Deck officers.

Ships are like a floating city, propelled by huge engines, generators which generate electricity and also a host of other machineries that are required for the day to day running of the ship, all these jobs are carried out by Marine Engineers on board.

Generally a Navigating officer or a Marine Engineer would spend 4 to 9 months on board a ship, depending on the rank and type of ship.

Once the tenure of their duty is over, he/she gets to enjoy a break of about 2 to 3 months.

The remuneration for a mariner is very lucrative. How much a marine officer will earn depend on various factors such as Nationality, Company, Type of Vessel, Rank, Qualification, Experience etc.

How to join the Merchant Navy

There are a certain requirements of joining the Merchant Navy and we shall dwell on them briefly,

Navigating Officer

Academic and Health Requirements
To work on board as a Navigating officer one needs to have the following qualification, either be a XIIth science student upto or less than 25 years with PCM marks of more than 60% aggregate. Since this is a profession where a lot of time is spent in Navigation, a student who wishes to join the Navigating stream must have a 6×6 eyesight without glasses, no colour blindness and be of perfect health.

Candidates who fulfil such criteria can apply to shipping companies for the position of a deck cadet.

Pre Sea Training

Before a deck cadet is sent on board a ship he/she has to undergo a 3 year B.Sc (NS) Degree Course as a pre-sea training in a Maritime training institute ashore. The tuition fee of such training has to be borne by the candidate. Bank loans are available for candidates who need to finance their studies without burdening their parents.

On board Training and Examination

Once a cadet completes a 3 year B.Sc (NS) Degree Course as pre-sea training, he is then placed on board ship, his training period on board ship is of 12 months. During this period of on-board training, the apprentice receives a stipend. Once the on board training period is completed the cadet is eligible for appearing in competency examinations as a navigating officer conducted by the Directorate General of Shipping, Govt. of India. A candidate who successfully passes these exams is then eligible to go on board a ship as a navigating officer.

Career Progression

In the Merchant Navy if you want to progress to be a Captain of the ship then you have to give a competency exam at each stage, the qualifying aspect of giving exams is sea time. Just like a pilot requires flying time, mariners require sea time and once an officer completes a specific amount of sea time he can appear for an examination for the next rank. A 3rd officer can go on to become a 2nd officer after gaining some experience, but to be a chief officer one must appear for exams after completing specified sea time. Further he can go ahead to become a Captain of a ship after completing specified sea time and exams.

Why to choose Merchant Navy as a Career?

Here are the reasons why you must opt for a Career in the Merchant Navy:

  • An Exciting and Adventurous profession.
  • Excellent salary structure
  • Financial independence, you start earning as a deck cadet.
  • Lots of responsibility at a very early age.
  • Opportunities see the world and meet and interact with people from different countries.
  • For a go-getter this career promises fast progress.
  • You can choose your working period
  • There is job security
  • Long vacations, where you can give uninterrupted attention to your family members and indulge in various hobbies.
  • Excellent accommodation and food on board ships.
  • No expenses incurred for lodging and boarding while on board a ship.

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