Pursuing a Career at Sea

driving a ship

People would probably say that you never really outgrew your love for Jack Sparrow, his ship The Black Pearl, and the sea. Those were some of your influences on why you want to pursue a career at sea. That, and probably your dad always talking about hull and machinery insurance and how individual ships are filing for claims because of a sea collision or some other incident.

It sounds grim and dangerous, but you would listen intently as your father explained away. It excites you to hear these stories. You knew about the taking of a ship in the Horn of Africa. Your father was one of the investigators on behalf of the insurance company.

But now you need to be ready. What does it take to pursue a career at sea? Here are a few things to consider:

An Overview of the Shipping Industry

The entire world relies on the shipping transportation industry for the movement of goods from one continent to another. Nearly 90% of global trade happens because of the shipping industry.

While the ocean and coastal transportation industry, which includes cruise ships and commercial freight transporters, has been relatively sluggish, it still earned $39 billion in revenue as of May 2019.

Jobs at Sea

at a marine ship

The first thing that you need to know is that there are several possibilities when you are considering a career at sea. You can work for cruise ships or commercial freight transports. You can be a deck crew, an engineer, and perhaps ultimately a captain of the vessel. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Education. There are plenty of options as far as education is concerned. You can enter maritime colleges, like the Florida Institute of technology, to earn your bachelor’s degree in marine science. You could also take the route of a federal academy, like the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. Merchant mariners would typically provide support to the US Navy while working for privately-owned vessels.
  2. Key skills. For several months in a year, you won’t be setting foot on land and living in quarters with limited space. That requires extreme mental toughness and a high level of adaptability. You will be interacting with colleagues and customers from different parts of the world. You must have the skill to navigate cultural nuances and remain productive at your work. If you aspire to be a captain someday, then your leadership skills must be top-notched, characterized by your ability to make quick but sound decisions.
  3. Be informed. Once you’ve got a post, always be aware of what’s going on in the industry. Find out trends from friends working for other companies or by following the business news about the industry. Staying connected will allow you to know about different career opportunities. Check out regularly forum on marine engineering and maritime forum.
  4. Advanced learning. Upgrade your knowledge about the industry and the profession by enrolling in a specialized program. Find out if there are changes in the licensing of professional seafarers.

Homesickness is a typical demon. This is something that you’ll learn to conquer. These are four key ideas to think about when starting your career as a seafarer.

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