How Much Does an Indian Seafarer Officer Earn?

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.

Indian seafarer earning

*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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About Author

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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  1. gentlemen/lady’s, with regret: a ship captain or master-mariner is ‘darn tough’ with a 24 hour ( some times 72 hours….glamoures!) job sailing,(not like a 9-5job)I as a 1973-1983 cadet/2nd off/chief off & 1984-1994 as various merchant vessels,bulk,passenger vessels, containers, chemical,oil tankers,vlcc; then as a inshore/offshore marine superintendent,then trained approved 5000 boys/girls in my own approved company-recently radio/pursers stopped on merchant ships SO
    the master has to do all that too-thanks to silly paperwork ISO/ISM nonsence todays master is at beck-n-call to ‘baby shore managers’ thanks to satellite.
    ps:still accidents happen-my age is now 57years.

  2. US$5000-8000 to Chief Engineer or Master Mariner divide day per US$166-266 ON 30 days Divide X as 24 hour means twenty four job
    so US$6.9-11.11,as good as a pizza boy per hour no ‘tip’ ha-ha
    Tension-stale food-monotony-piracy !

  3. Agree Capt.Salim Chagla-underpaid-pressure cooker job- family life in gods hands…hahah

  4. I am unable to see the salary table. At the place pf table it is showing ” [table “1” not found /] “. Kindly fix this or mail me the table. Thanks.


  6. sir dont u think that this salary for an in dian person is enough without taxes ya agreed that conditions of working are tough …

  7. Capt.salim,
    Yes you are right poor salary,as you analys but if that will be paid in Nigeria of West Africa will have been better.
    The worse part a seaferar will be on sea working for months, ship owner will not pay or they pay 1 month out of 5 month and so they do,very sad .Hmmm.

  8. I have a question here. These figures are for a month but what if the engineer/officer has paid leave as well? Does the salary dilute down to the same as mentioned above or is it different? Please help.

  9. 1st have the master & ch/engineer must be independent NOT shore-Daft idiots
    next free food is nothing~that in stale issue,
    the job must be double of what safely by my crew/officers is today AS tax/dangerous bangladesh/nigeria/somalia/suez/HAITI/jamaica etc I hv done all by my crew SAFELY

  10. harare / somalia & pirate’s british / cadets all are now understanding by the silly shore-jobs paperwork & ISO/ISI rubbish now using Bangladeshi crew even Philippine’s not getting jobs ~ the game as large container & oil is in underwater pipes (few chemical tankers surviving) only experienced masters // chief engineers n.sea or mexico even dp vessels no jobs in the arabian gulf thus shipping by ‘ancient daft shift to gesco…shore OCIMF/Etc ideas even training is down ?

  11. 30 years-in gesco,neptune oriont, ubland, dynacom, seearland, etc..then O.N.G.C./Ambuja then a small ship too, then trained 5000 mmd approved officers/crew-too much bribing; thus fed-up just my dog, cat, pet’s; avoid sailing….as ashore job’s by tiny-lost in-charge; plus ‘game’ of contract’s
    shipping is finished !

  12. last & not the least the mmd still under-the-table…..all so the ‘shipping office’…dgs too similar “gifts”..necessary….


    ps: thanx the persons common NOT CM THRASH IS SINGAPORE STYLE, similar oil can cost exxon / bp around 20billion dollars ok

  14. oil fuel + toxic in madras ask the babu’s ten ask the MMD, DGShipping>2 merchant ships can drop inside the 3 mile’s [nautical]….are person’s aware that in Exxon in cape town years ago & in BP oil in the Mexican gulf [American] had to pay 20 billion $$$$ ! how/who will ‘eat-well’

  15. PM N.MODI : have a master & chief eng. then think of ports & Inland [ India~like America ] we have the sea-BUT Merchant Navy is gone down why ask the DGS & MMD boys are doing then the certificate is pushing, need fast-action, see the old ONGC Samudra ‘game’ get new offshore vessel’s, oil-spills, improve hoogly river, [BORE] clean ALL rivers [not just gassing & DIRTY/TOXIC ] only masters / chief engineers understand Indian river’s, [in the monsoon is rubbish in the mumbai due high sea’s-tried what happened ‘zero’]

  16. well brother’s: seem’s a tiny or large war soon, as ISI VIA “Pak” trouble plus china time’s are changing bad to worse….thus no part..dangerous, so far India is better thus
    stick to shore company or shore-jobs…nautical course is…but few ships..then when will India start *coastal rivers…Hmm..was so far cow / buffalo / chicken / pork / dandling vande etc.. our minister’s / corporaters
    so-far-just-gassing, really nothing changed in the last 3 years
    ps: indian problem in kashmir

  17. sad but even still ~ time’s are changing, salary is too low due to even an Canadian / American pizza boy simple an hour 16 an hour…years ago capt/ch.eng if british pounds 15,000 [20 years ago] so get the Rs.10 Lacs is too low by our Indian brain’s,….today chemical / gas tankers are maximum $10,000 if 3~4 MONTHLY ARE NOTHING GREAT

  18. I would think if income-tax’s department sail in L.P. / H.P in 6~8 Beauford…Sailor’s or storm’s / hurricanes in Atlantic or Indian ocean / West Bengal open sea

  19. sailing ~ shipping merchent navy day’s are 99% finished, avoid Cadet deck/engine

  20. struggling just as cook’s or g.p. as oil connected under the sea, thus few Australian / iran vessels, & un-aware ‘kids-in-shore’ based in a ‘master~any CDC’ not our times a tough 2/0, ch/off, master same as a PhD almost 75% plus 80% even navy course’s.

  21. pizza boy doing job safe ~ no adventure is a dangerous world day-by-day, flooding basically extra car & pollution and tall tower’s, and a sad salary a pilot is safe; a master-mariner a 24 job

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