Lately, we have been receiving several inquiries regarding the salary structure of Indian sea-going professionals. People often ask us how much will I make if I join the merchant navy at the start, what would be my salary after five years, and what amount will I have in my bank account ten years from now if I work on Cargo ships? We rebuff all such questions!
First of all, it is important for every aspiring merchant navy professional to understand that the shipping industry is cyclical in nature. A cyclical nature in an industry means that there are boom and bust cycles (similar to the ‘bull’ or ‘bear’ terms for equity markets). A lot of the salary structure is decided by the cycle that the fiscal year is in. You cannot expect ridiculously high pays when there is an overall slowdown.
Secondly, causes leading up to the bust as well as commodities that govern it- for example oil. When the price of oil was high, freights were high, shipowners were earning higher fees and better salaries were being paid out. It is not that the salaries right now (since we are recovering from a major slowdown) are obscenely less, they are still very good, but they are still lesser than what they were. For example, a Third Mate could get up to $3200 before 2008; now it generally hovers around the $2000-2800 bracket.
Third is the concept of supply and demand. There was a time when Junior Officers were in very high demand but now owing to the springing up many institutes, that gap has been filled, increasing the demand for the senior officers. It is important to understand that shipping, an industry that drives the economy, is dependant on the economy too! Whatever affects the world economy ends up affecting the demand and supply chain and therefore, shipping.
It is very difficult to assess how much a person would earn while working in the merchant navy, for there are several aspects involved. Apart from the rank of the maritime professional, aspects such as the type of the ship, reputation of the company, and the person’s own ability to excel in the field play an important part in deciding what salary he or she takes home.
Needless to say, one;s experience in the field counts A LOT towards finding and keeping employment, demanding a fat salary and everything else that comes with it. Shipping is such a field that the experience weighs a lot for the simple fact that a person who has covered a type/many types of ship over and over again is more conversant with shipboard equipment and has honed his skills to a point where will obviously be in demand.
But as Marine Insight is here to help its readers, and considering the fact that it is difficult to provide a number for the salary of each rank, we came up with an idea of providing our readers with a “Salary Range” for each level in a Cargo Ship.
*The above table has been created on the basis of a salary survey done on 100 seafarers of different ranks
Disclaimer: Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.
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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.
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