Aiming to join Merchant Navy? I think most of us have heard about getting paid for travelling around the world in Merchant Navy, don’t you? On top of that, you must have also heard that, “Only work for 6 months and get paid for the whole year”, do you? Merchant Navy is a unique and out of the box type career choice, but every field has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, before joining, you must be clear about certain things regarding Merchant Navy.
Most of the candidates joining Merchant Navy are usually attracted towards two things. Money and the opportunity to travel the world. There are many points to prove Merchant Navy a good career choice, but below are the 10 points which would help the aspiring candidates who are planning to join Merchant Navy in being clear about their career choice and not regretting joining the merchant navy, at any point of their lives! We discuss below, about the ten things, one must keep in mind before joining the merchant navy.
- Eligibility criteria
Before joining, you must be eligible and fit into the criteria set by the maritime University of a particular country, as every country has different rules. Accordingly, choosing the right institute must also be taken into consideration. As every profession require a proper qualification, so does the Merchant Navy. Working on board a ship is not everyone’s cup of tea. It requires a proper mindset and skill which should be given during pre-sea training.
2. Fit for sea
The term, “Fit for sea” is very important in sailor’s life as they are only allowed to board the ship if they are physically fit. Not only during joining of the ship but also during the admission in the MTI’s(Maritime Training Institute), candidate must be physically fit or else he will be not be allowed to join the institute regardless he has cleared all the entrance exams whatsoever.
You have to be strong physically as well as mentally. These two things are very important as there can be emergency on ship and you have to tackle that emergency very smoothly. Being in Merchant Navy field, have to be on the water for long time, your health and fitness becomes a serious issue.
Before joining a ship,you have to undergo various medical tests such as eye test and colour blindness test, audiometry test, Blood and urine test, X-ray ,ECG and many more. Hence, you have to be fit as long as you are in Merchant Navy field.
3. Correct stream
In Merchant Navy, there are numerous streams which an individual can opt for.
While choosing the correct stream, one must be have a fair idea about why they are opting a particular stream. They must have complete knowledge about it and accordingly they should choose it.
Every person is important on-board a ship. Right from Captain, Chief Engineer, Head chef to cadet, ratings, steward. These are the jobs that are available. You can choose any stream of your choice based on your ability and competency. You are going to be responsible for all the work assigned to you so consequently you should be well prepared.
4. Sailing isn’t a permanent job
In Merchant Navy, there are two types of companies. Namely, management company and ownership company.
Ownership company means that the owner of the ship will take care of all the aspects of ship i.e. Technical, Manning, Chartering, etc.
Management company means the owner of the ship will hand over the ship to the management companies and overlook whether everything goes right and daily freights to the owner.
Almost 70% of the shipping companies manage all of their ships on contract basis. Every sailor goes on the ship with a particular months of contract. A contract can stretch up to 9 months and it can be as short as 3 months. Contracts are divided into two types: One is fixed contact and another is round the year contract. After signing fixed contract, you go on a ship for particular month and once the contract is over, company is not liable to provide you the salary. Whereas, in round the year contract, company will provide you “A” months ON and “B” Months OFF. According to the contract, you have to work for “A” months on a ship followed by “B” months of leave. You will be paid both during “A” and “B” periods.
Although all the companies have same salary; irrespective of type of ship and rank. The whole summary of the point is sailing isn’t a permanent job. It is either in fixed or round the year contract.
5. Proper etiquettes
Having proper etiquettes is very much important in life. It is one of the most important aspect in every field, so does in Merchant Navy. Being a part of merchant navy, you’ll not only able to travel the whole world but you’ll also get to interact with people of various nationalities. You’ll be able to learn new things and different cultures of the world. You should think about yourself whether you are a type of person who would be able to join merchant navy without having any difficulties. You have to keep yourself positive throughout your contract in order to work carefully and neatly. If you think you are not a kind of person mentioned above, then you have to call of this career.
6. Tax-free income
Majority of the seafarers are befuddled about the taxation system. A seafarer has to complete particular sea time in a financial year mentioned by the government of the country so that they are not liable to pay the tax.
For instance, the tax on the income earned by the Indian citizens on foreign land are not liable to pay the taxes if a individual remains outside of the country for more than 183 days. They are termed as NRI(Non resident Indian).
7. High salary
If you would have asked me about merchant navy jobs and salaries a decade ago, I would have definitely said that it is good. But, today the shipping industry is flooded with cadets seeking for job opportunities. There are many individuals who after the graduation become jobless as they didn’t get placed during their college placement.
Same as in the other field, after a particular years of experience, only then you get a good salary. Initially you are paid less(for engine/deck and trainee ratings)but after clearing the COC level exams, you’ll earn a good amount of money.
Candidates who just got their first ship earn as much as any land job person. They earn a hefty salary when they get promoted to higher ranks (Captain/Chief engineer).
8. Sacrificing social life
The most important point if you are planning to join merchant navy. If you are a type of person who is fond of spending time with friends and do parties, then you must refrain joining merchant navy.
You have to stay away from your family and friends when you are on a ship, so you have to be alone. As modern ships have satellite phones, you can talk with your family and friends. Now a days there is WiFi connectivity on most of the ships, thus you are able to chat and video call with your loved ones. It may virtually reduce the distance between your loved ones, but you are going to miss being with them physically.
And you will get very less time to talk over the phone as well because of the work hours.
The life at sea is a lonely one. to be honest. It may ruin your social life if you are a extrovert person. You will miss the birthdays, festivals and special days of your loved ones. The work on ship is also quit difficult as well as lack of time to do some social activities, ship life can be harder for a person.
If an individual is ready to overcome all this issues, then you are prepared to join this field. But if you are home sick and an emotional person, then you should not join this field as this may lead to various problems on the ship.
9. Stressful Life
At sea, high level of stress is involved due to the nature of job and responsibility. Although there are lot of safety measures carried out on ship, accidents do happen while working. The Merchant officers are given a basic training of first aid in any medical emergency on ship.
Neverthelesss, that is no substitute of being under a professional doctor.
The schedule on board a ship is very hectic with no fixed timing. You can get a call anytime if there is any emergency. You’re never completely off duty while on board. If there is a job which need to be done, it has to be done irrespective of time. Also, you have to give particular exams for promotion which requires a lot of studying.
10. Bringing your family on ship
Every sailor’s dream is to bring his family on board. It is only possible if allowed by the company or when all the norms of the company are satisfied.
An officer who just got promoted has less chance of bringing his family on ship. Here, family of a married person includes his wife and kids. Parents are not allowed on a ship. A management level officer such as captain/chief engineer has more chances of bringing his/her family onboard.
It also depends on the trading route to carry a family or not. For instance, while passing through the Gulf of Aden, carrying family on ship is not allowed.
Merchant Navy is a flourishing career option if you are ready to face all the challenges as mentioned above. A career in this field is not for faint hearted. Every day it brings new challenges and opportunities which you have to face. You as well as your family have to sacrifice a lot as you will be miles away from home.
Although, there are many advantages and disadvantages in this field, you should think about it and take decision rather than regretting it later. So choose the career in merchant navy sensibly before joining it.