A career in merchant navy is a unique blend of variety encompassed in a single domain. By opting for a merchant navy career, individuals can combine a lot of different facets and gain a lot of exposure in terms of professionalism, adaptability and travel. Detailed below is a list of 10 such points which make merchant navy careers so singular and completely unlike any:
There are very few lines of work around the world that pay the kind of salary to entry level officers as the merchant navy does. A very big incentive for anyone to take up a profession is the allure of pay-packages and salaries. Starting at about US$ 1,500 and extending up to about US$ 3,000 per month. Note that this is notwithstanding the training period for approximately a year wherein a stipend is paid out ranging between $500 to $800.
The payment scales are set as per the existing IMO (International Maritime Organisation) and ILO (International Labour Organisation) laws. While the salaries have set pattern across the globe, it differs among companies and more importantly, it increases with experience.
Paying taxes is a responsibility that everyone is aware of. However, people involved in the merchant marine are exempted from paying taxes, if they meet the requirements necessary for exemption purposes. A merchant marine professional has to spend a minimum of six months on-duty aboard a vessel, following which the professional will be exempt from paying tax for the specified financial year.
However, this is not professional tax advice and laws differ among countries so it is best to check up on the tax laws. For example, in India, one paid for his services while out of the country for 183 days or more has to be exempted from income tax.
People involved in the merchant marines get to experience exotic destinations across the whole world. And since jobs in merchant navy require an individual to spend extended periods of time at sea, there is no dearth of time when it comes to exploring these singular destinations.
While the work onboard in ports takes up half the time, the other half is available to visit the new country as long as the vessel is alongside. Based on the charter, the vessel might be in a different country every now and then, leaving the seafaring with a long list of countries he/she covers!
Confluence of Cultures
A professional involved in a merchant marine career gets to meet and mingle with people of different cultures and nationalities. This helps the individual to understand and function better as a team player and learn the nuances of different cultures and traditions at the same time. This automatically increases adaptability and brings about more awareness about what goes and what doesn’t in a different country.
A merchant navy officer is easily malleable and can fit in with people around the world without much effort owing to their regular exchange with foreign nationals. Even if a ship employs a single nationality crew, working with the port officials from different countries also adds a great deal of awareness among seafarers about cultures and customs.
Working in the merchant navy enables individuals to function better as a unit. Merchant mariners are required to possess good communication skills and extreme resourcefulness, along with following and maintaining high discipline. These qualities are further honed when a person spends considerable amount of time functioning as a part of a novel team in the high seas.
A person not only evolves professionally but also personally while working in merchant navy. This degree of professionalism comes with a great deal of responsibility towards the vessel and the crew; years of rigorous training in the field might make make certain tasks look mundane to a layman, however, to have achieved that level of expertise has come with it a lot of diligent work over the years.
Merchant navy careers offer a lot of exposure to unexpected events, situations and emergencies. By facing such unmitigated events, professionals gain a widespread knowledge about dealing and facing such problems, in the event of them arising again. The exposure one gets in this field is unlike anywhere else and which helps a person to grow in every aspect.
The aspect of professionalism also kicks in wherein the ability to be quick with decisions and problem solving is paramount. Lack of precision can be devastating onboard and with constant exposure to a high degree of work ethic over the years, a seafarer becomes conditioned to sudden jolts!
A career in merchant marines is like having adventures on a day-to-day basis. It’s an adventurous life out there. Other routine jobs, involve people having to spend nine hours in an office. This is not for people who like nine-to-five jobs. Merchant mariners get to explore and view the excellent oceanic vista for days on end which, acts as inspiration unlike any.
Being at the mercy of the ocean naturally demands a considerable level of commitment from one’s part. It is not all sunshine and peaches at sea and ‘adventure’ can also mean that one has to be sharp at all times, ready to face the perils of the sea as well as the ship and her crew.
Demanding/Less Demanding Qualifications
A career in merchant navy can be taken up immediately after clearing the high school examinations with subjects like physics and mathematics. For individuals who do not want to gain higher college education or cannot do so because of certain reasons, taking up a merchant marine career is the most feasible choice. Not only does it provide good pay but also helps in molding a better career.
Having said that, there are careers in merchant navy that requires high qualifications as well. The kind of subjects taught while an individual is undergoing his training at an institute can be extensive. From astronomy to engineering to celestial navigation and maritime law, the study in the shipping field to become a qualified officer covers a wide array of knowledge. However, for those that aspire to be regular seamen, the merchant marine provides an opportunity like no other; in that, with minimal qualification a person can be assured a good pay and the prospect of extensive travel.
Punctuality and discipline are two very important qualities that a person gains through a merchant marine career. Since the oceans are highly unpredictable, a seaman has to be highly cautious, focused and alert to counter any eventuality, thereby reducing the repercussions substantially. These two qualities are imbibed in maritime professionals right from their college training.
The professionals are expected to follow a strict disciplined lifestyle according to navy rules and are also required to wear navy uniforms throughout their careers. In case you are uniform fan, maritime career is an exciting option for you. The discipline goes a long way in real life and brings about some really positive changes in everyday life. It is this discipline onboard that enables a young officer to become an adept Master years later.
Since the nature of the merchant navy job require long working periods, the vacations offered to merchant marine professionals are equally compensating. This enables these professionals to enjoy the best of both worlds – land and water.
A 2-4 months vacation is definitely long enough to unwind and follow all your passions, isn’t it? The vacation a seafarer gets is in its truest form- there is absolutely no stress of work while a seafarer is back home and he gets to enjoy the time with his family to the fullest.
People with unbridled enthusiasm and zest for life can very well opt for a merchant marine career. It would be satiating without the person ever experiencing any regrets whatsoever in his profession of choice.
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Shilavadra Bhattacharjee is a shipbroker with a background in commercial operations after having sailed onboard as a Third Officer. His interests primarily lie in the energy sector, books and travelling.