Guide To Joining Merchant Navy: Career Opportunities In Merchant Navy

In this article, we would be providing you with every possible information relating to a career in merchant navy. From joining merchant navy, to knowing in depth, about the career opportunities, in the field of merchant navy.

What is Merchant Navy?

Merchant navy is basically the industry, which deals with commercial activities through sea routes. Activities such as transportation of cargo and passengers across sea routes are two of the most prominent examples of merchant navy. This industry is also known as ‘Merchant Marine’ or ‘Mercantile Marine’ in some countries.

Career Guide In Merchant Navy
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The term ‘Merchant Navy’ could also be defined as a fleet of commercial vessels (ships), which are not used by the military, and are rather involved in commercial activities.

Each merchant navy vessel is registered under the flags of specific countries. They accommodate seafarers of various ranks, who are engaged in navigating and maintaining the ships. They are also known as ‘Mariners’, ‘Sailors’ and ‘Seamen’.

The merchant navy is a global industry, which has professionals from all nations co-working onboard different types of vessels. Merchant navy offers amazing career opportunities both at the sea, and the shore.

Merchant navy has a huge role in the progress of the global economy. One notable fact which validates the previous sentence is that approximately ninety-percent of the entire world trade, happens with the courtesy of merchant navy!

Career options in Merchant Navy

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As a career option, merchant navy provides some of the best opportunities to aspirants and professionals, who are willing to embark upon a totally different career, as compared to other conventional career options.

Contrary to the popular belief, one can also settle for a land-based job, in the field of merchant navy!

If you wish joining merchant navy, first, you need to choose between these four departments:

  • Deck Department: In this department, one would be responsible for the navigation, watchkeeping, anchoring and other such works of the respective vessel.
  • Engine Department: Here, one would be responsible for the operation of the ship engines, maintenance and repair of the machineries involved and other such works.
  • Crew Ratings: Here, one would be trained for both deck and engine related tasks. They usually assist deck and engine officers onboard ships.
  • Electro Technical Officer (ETO) : An ETO looks after all the electrical equipment onboard a vessel.

You need to take up a course in any one of the four above mentioned departments, to kickstart a career in merchant navy.

How To Join A Department of Your Choice In Merchant Navy?

Now when you have learnt about the departments, where one could work on, in merchant navy. It’s time for you to know the procedure of joining the department of your choice in merchant navy.

Joining the Engine Department: To join merchant navy as a marine engineer (specific term for sailors working for the engine department). One would need to graduate with a degree in ‘Marine Engineering’.

This could be done in two ways:

  1. Completing the course: B.Tech / B.E in Marine Engineering from an institute of repute. [read our maritime training institute reviews for more information on the best institutes]
    • In India, to get admitted in B.Tech / B.E in Marine Engineering, one must have a minimum marks of 60% marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics combined, with at-least 50% marks in English. The candidate must be from Science background, and should have qualified IMUCET (Indian Maritime University Common Entrance Test). Also, the candidate must be medically fit, as per the DG Shipping standards. There is also a provision of lateral entry, where one could join B.Tech (Marine Engineering) from the second year onwards. In that case, he/she should have a graduated with a diploma in Mechanical Engineering or Marine Engineering with at-least 60% overall marks.
  2. Completing the course: G.M.E (Graduate Marine Engineering) from an institute of repute.
    • In India, to get admitted in a GME Course, one must have passed with a B.Tech / B.E Degree in Mechanical / Naval Architecture / Mechanical & Automation engineering, from an institute recognized by the AICTE. He / she should also have a minimum of 60% in both his / her final year of graduation, as well as in class XII. The medical requirements are exactly the same as that for a B.Tech / BE in Marine Engineering.

Joining The Deck Department: To join merchant navy as a deck officer (specific term for sailors working for the deck department). One would need to graduate with a degree in ‘Nautical Science’.

  1. Completing the course: B.Sc in Nautical Science from an institute of repute. [read our maritime training institute reviews for more information on the best institutes]
    • In India, to get admitted in B.Sc in Nautical Science, the criterion are quite the same, as that of the one required for joining B.Tech / B.E in Marine Engineering. The candidate must have a minimum marks of 60% marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics combined, with at-least 50% marks in English. The candidate must be from Science background, and should have qualified IMUCET (Indian Maritime University – Common Entrance Test). Also, the candidate must be medically fit, as per the DG Shipping standards. Note that the cut-off rank required in IMUCET to join B.Sc in Nautical Science is quite lower, as compared to B.Tech / B.E (Marine Engineering). This implies, joining B.Sc in Nautical Science is somewhat easier, when compared to B.Tech / B.E in Marine Engineering.
  2. Completing the course: D.N.S (Diploma In Nautical Science) from an institute of repute.
    • In India, to get admitted in D.N.S too, the criterion are quite the same, as that of the one required for joining The above three courses. The only major difference being, in addition to appearing for IMUCET, the candidate must also appear for “Company Sponsorship Test”. These tests are periodically conducted by shipping companies. The significance of this test, lies upon the fact, that, after clearing the Company Sponsorship Test, the respective company takes the responsibility for the candidate’s placement, after the completion of his/her course. In other words, the candidate is pre-placed in the company! Keeping this aside, the other criterion are : The candidate must have a minimum marks of 60% marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics combined, with at-least 50% marks in English. The candidate must be from Science background, and should have qualified IMUCET (Indian Maritime University – Common Entrance Test). Also, the candidate must be medically fit, as per the DG Shipping standards.

Joining Merchant Navy As A Rating: To join merchant navy as a crew rating (for both engine and deck departments). One would need to undergo a course in General Purpose Rating (GP Rating)

The GP Rating course is usually of six months, upon completion of which, the candidates would be eligible to join vessels, as a deck / engine crew. With further sea-service, they would be gradually promoted to Motor-man / Oil-man, Fitter, Able-Bodied Seaman, Bosun and more. They can also be promoted to officers, with the condition, that they satisfy certain qualifications and experience.

In India, the eligibility criterion to join a GP Rating course are:

  • The candidate must have passed class 10, from a recognized educational board, with science and mathematics as a subject, and with a minimum of 40% marks in the same.
  • The candidate must fall between the age range of 17.5 – 27 years.

One can also join the shipping industry as an ETO (Electro-Technical Officer). The course required to join merchant navy as an ETO is usually of 4-6 months. The eligibility criterion here, in India, is that the candidate must have passed 10+2 with Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and English as subjects, with a minimum of 5-5 marks in english, in either class 10, or class 12. Also, the candidate must have passed a three year diploma, or a four year bachelor degree in the electrical field.

Career Path As A Deck Officer

A deck officer is responsible for ship navigation, deck operations, and cargo operations. After the completion of one’s pre-sea training, the career path of a deck officer is discussed here.

When joining the deck side, the ultimate aim of the candidate is to be the Captain (Master) of the ship. A career progression chart is shown below for your reference:

If one joins the deck side after a graduating with a B.Sc in Nautical Science, he / she would join merchant navy as a Third Officer. While, if a candidate joins merchant navy with a D.N.S Degree, he / she would join as a deck cadet. This would require him / her to complete sailing as a deck cadet for 18 months, prior to being eligible to apply for 2nd Mate examination. Qualifying which, the candidate would then sail as a Third Officer. Promotion from Third Officer, to Second Officer depends upon the discretion of the company, and a minimum sea-time of 18 months. The next promotion is for being the Chief Officer (also known as First Officer), this requires one to qualify the First Mate examinations. Finally, after sailing as a Chief Officer for 18 months, one could appear for the final exam of his / her maritime career, the Masters Exam. Qualifying which, he / she would be promoted to the position of Captain (Master).

Career Path As A Marine Engineer

The career path as a marine engineer starts after one obtains a degree in either B.Tech / B.E (Marine Engineering) or G.M.E (Graduate Marine Engineering). Unlike the deck side, the ultimate aim of the candidate, is being the Chief Engineer of the ship, the one who is responsible for ship’s engine.

Shown below, is a chart which depicts the career path as a Marine Engineer, after obtaining a degree in B.Tech / B.E. in Marine Engineering, for your reference:

Credit: way2ship.com

After obtaining a degree in Marine Engineering, the candidate is eligible to join merchant navy as a T.M.E (Trainee Marine Engineer, also known as 5th or Junior Engineer). After this, ones needs to sail for a minumum of 18th months, prior to applying for the MEO Class IV examination, passing which, he / she can sail as a 4th Engineer onboard ships. The promotion from 4th Engineer to 3rd Engineer depends upon one’s sea-time (experience) and is upon the company’s discretion. After sailing as a 3rd Engineer for the required sea-time, one can apply for MEO Class II Examination, passing which, he / she can sail as a 2nd Engineer. After which, one must complete the stipulated sea-time, and pass the much coveted MEO Class I examination, to finally sail as a Chief Engineer onboard!

Career Path As A GP Rating In Merchant Navy:

After completing the GP Rating course, one would work as Deck or Engine crew onboard ships. After 36 months of sea service, one may appear for 2nd Mate Examination and rise to Officer. With further sea service and examinations (oral and/or written), one may rise through the Ranks.

Career As An Electro Technical Officer (ETO)

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Electro Technical Officers are very important people onboard a vessel. They specialize in handling and maintaining all the electrical equipment onboard a ship. An ETO usually works onboard, under the Chief Engineer.

Unlike Deck / Engine officials, career as an ETO ascends with pure experience. The ranks of Electro Technical Officers in merchant navy are:

  1. Lead ETO.
  2. First Electrician.
  3. Chief Electrical Officer / Chief Electrical Engineer.

After the completion of one’s pre-sea training, he / she joins merchant navy, as a trainee ETO. Their rank and salary increases with their experience.

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