Welcome to Careers at Sea
Are you looking for a challenging career with a difference?
Would you like to embark on a career with responsibility in a dynamic industry, obtain internationally recognised qualifications, and have the opportunity to travel the world while working in a unique environment?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions then perhaps you should consider a career at sea!
Shipping is pivotal to the current requirements of the global market, with over 90% of international trade carried out by the shipping industry alone. Put simply: without shipping, the import and export of goods necessary in the globalised world we live in would not be possible. There are currently in excess of 50,000 merchant ships trading across the world and, with the amount of international trade continuing to expand, the shipping industry must continue to grow to meet the increasing demand.
Reasons to Work at Sea
Wages earned by seafarers are normally very generous compared to similar professions ashore. Seagoing officers are assured a very comfortable standard of living, and are usually within the upper income bracket of their national populations.
In Europe, a recently qualified third officer can earn a "take home" salary that is comparable to what many shore-based university graduates might hope to earn in their early 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 often tax free. Officers at sea can be promoted rapidly, eventually progressing to Captain or Chief Engineer, with wages matching their responsibilities. Salaries obviously vary according to the country in which you live and the shipping company you work for. Some types of ship require specialised skills for which pay may be higher. More detailed information will be available from national sources.
Ships' officers enjoy considerable responsibility right from the start of their careers. They ensure the safety of their ships and their cargoes, the lives of their shipmates and the protection of the marine environment.
Officer trainees usually learn the professional skills required through combining education at specialist institutions and practical training on board ships and you can expect to qualify as either a Deck or Engineer Officer at the "Operational Level" within 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".
As a deck officer at sea you will be responsible for the safe navigation of a seagoing vessel, its passengers and crew. Alternatively you might be responsible for mooring or cargo handling, leading a team of seafarers using your knowledge and experience to ensure safe and successful operations.
As an engineer officer ,you will be responsible, during "watch periods", for the safe operation of the ship's engines and technical systems - enormous industrial machinery. The forces which the sea can exert on a ship mean that the full and proper functioning of engineering systems are vital at all times for the safety of the ship and the protection of the environment.
Within 10 years of commencing specialist maritime education and training, it is possible to qualify as a Captain or Chief Engineer with total responsibility for the operation of a ship and the management and safety of its crew.
Opportunities to 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. This gives seafarers the chance to experience interesting and unusual places, rather than just the typical business or holiday destinations visited by many people.
Since shipping is such 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 Singapore or London, the opportunities are endless.
By embarking on a career in shipping you are joining a special international network of contacts and associates.
Good Long Term Prospects
There is a great need for more qualified ships' officers 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, and thus the quantity of goods moved by sea continues to increase.
Many senior personnel are shortly due to retire so there are excellent prospects for fast advancement by new entrants to the maritime profession.
Career opportunities extend to thousands of shore-based management jobs, which require people with seagoing experience. A career at sea may not mean a lifetime at sea.
Doing Something Useful
Today’s competitive world sometimes makes it difficult to fully understand the purpose and value of many 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 vast 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.
Career Flexibility and Job Security
Shipping is an ideal occupation for young people seeking something exciting and different to just working in an office, which in the long run will also lead to an enjoyable and well paid executive career in a major international industry.
In the world at large, 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 recognised qualifications meeting standards agreed by the United Nations International Maritime Organization. Many seafarers work for shipping companies based in the countries in which 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 flags of almost every country.
Some ships' officers may decide, after only a few years at sea, to use their qualifications and experience to find employment in one of the large number of professional jobs servicing the shipping industry, for example 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 are also readily transferable to other industries outside merchant shipping.
In most jobs, it is often only possible to take a maximum of two or three weeks holiday at one time, and total annual holidays are of course far less than you might be used to at college or school.
In shipping, however, seafarers commonly enjoy generous leave or holiday periods. 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 may sometimes be away from home for extended periods, they also enjoy flexibility to pursue other interests at home, or spend long periods of time with their families and friends.
A Career that is Different
A ship is a unique working environment because it is also home to those working on board. Those working on board ship often develop lasting friendships with their colleagues and have a stimulating life which is different to the experience of many people working ashore.
Merchant seafaring is a civilian occupation. Although team work and strict adherence to safe working practices is critical, there are many opportunities for socialising, both on board ship and during visits to foreign ports. Life on board ship can be very cosmopolitan, with many different nationalities of seafarer working together. Joining the shipping industry is essentially like belonging to a special international club.