Note: The merchant navy recruitment process would usually differ depending on the country and its regulations. However, the basic process would be a minor variation of the one mentioned below.
The internet is a vast resource of information regarding the merchant navy recruitment process. A lot of the information available online about merchant navy is a myth.
Owing to the growing interest among enthusiastic candidates across maritime forums, we at Marine Insight, have chosen to consolidate extensive relevant data to clarify all that there is to the merchant navy with regard to the mode of entrance, salaries, jobs etc.
Responsible for over 90% of economic trade in the world, shipping is embedded in our daily lives. Being a profession wherein the competency of personnel is gauged at an international level, the maritime industry rewards its seafarers rather well; primarily, this aspect has sparked a lot of interest among the youth.
While each country and nationality has set standards with regards to the various aspects mentioned, the basic framework relating to all of the above is similar, therefore aiding the reader to gauge the system in place when it comes to merchant shipping.
Table of Contents
Merchant Navy Entrance Exam
The merchant navy is a very professional and competitive line of work wherein one’s acceptance and promotion depends on the clearance of government-regulated exams and performance onboard a vessel. For a detailed account of the process in India, read the information in the article on joining merchant navy after class 12th in India in which we have tried to address all concerns about the initial formalities.
The merchant navy education has been centralized in India and all institutes are now under the purview of the Indian Maritime University. The UK has a central training board that control all training related guidelines – Merchant Navy Training Board, regulated by the MCA. In India, admission into institutes is conducted via the IMUCET.
Merchant Navy Colleges & Course Fees
The list of approved institutes in India, as per the Directorate General of Shipping can be checked at the official website – this is regularly updated as per audits and checks on institutes for quality and standards.
Advice to the candidates is to always check this list for ANY course approval prior to enrolling into one. A list of training institutes in the UK, approved by their government can be found at the official listing of nautical colleges.
The fee associated with a training is institute specific and also course-specific; a 3 year BSc Nautical Science residential course will obviously be more than the 1 year Diploma Nautical Science course. For reference, let us take a premier institute in India – TS Chanakya:
One Year Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS) leading to B.Sc. (Nautical Science)
Total Duration: one year (2 Semesters) Pre-sea course
Total Fees: 2,20,000/-
Total Duration: 3 years
(i) For Male Cadets 2,20,000/- per annum
(ii) For Girl Cadets 1,40,500/- per annum
For UK nationals, the college fees are, in all probability, taken care of by the government. There are courses conducted in India that are in liaison with some UK courses leading up to a Higher National Diploma in Nautical Science.
Generally, every maritime academy (private or governmental) has its own entrance exam. Application forms for the same can be downloaded from respective sites.
Merchant Navy Jobs
To address this, it is important to understand the differences between the deck and engine departments and the career progression associated with regard to the same. As mentioned throughout myriad articles on MI, the state of the employment in the seafaring aspect of the shipping industry depends on presiding economic factors, chief among them being demand and supply.
Shipping is a cyclical industry that has its bust and boom cycles; the jobs are busting or booming depending on that very state. While there are hundreds of ships that shall always require seafarers to man them, merchant navy jobs also depend on an individual’s skills, experience, training and reliability.
Nationality also plays a factor as companies have a trend on hiring certain nationals on their fleet. Even though there is automation bringing about changes in the concept of manning, shipping is a basic very basic industry for the world economy and therefore, quality seafarers will always be in demand.
Merchant Navy Salary Structure
The merchant navy is a financially rewarding industry. The pay, commensurate with the rank, experience, type of ship and nationality, is of an international standard and comes tax-free in most countries.
In India, a seafarer’s income is tax-free if his source of income is foreign and he has been out of the country for a total of more than 182 days. To make the aspect of salaries understandable, it is important to know the ranks which can be read at merchant navy ranks.
An indicative salary structure is listed out for the deck officers:
Deck Cadet – USD 250-700 (the range is quite spread as it differs among companies. Average across most companies can be assumed to be around USD 500)
Third Officer – USD 2000-3900 (again, depends on the experience, type of ship and the company)
Second Officer – USD 3000-5000
Chief Officer – USD 7000-10000
Master Mariner/Captain – USD 9000-15000 or more
The type of ship is an important factor as the salary associated with it depends on the risks pertaining to the ship and her cargo. For example, officers onboard bulk carriers usually get paid a few hundred USD lesser than those on tankers. More on the salaries can be read at – How Much Does Indian Seafarer Officer Earns?
Merchant Navy Recruitment Process
In India, there are marine institutes that are directly run by shipping companies wherein a cadet (deck or engine) is placed into that very company upon completion of the pre-sea course.
For example, Anglo-Eastern is one such company that has its own training institute to train cadets to become officers in the future. There is a process involved specific to an interview and written exam for such company-specific institutes.
For cadets that get into institutes not affiliated with any shipping company, the onus of finding employment upon completion lies on the individual.
In the UK, cadets join their training institutes with sponsorship from a company with regard to employment. In that, they are employed with the company that has sponsored them to undergo training at a specified institute.
So we have compiled a comprehensive article to answer all queries posted by readers and enthusiasts looking to join the shipping industry.
For more information, go through the various sections of the Marine Insight website to garner more information for further understanding.
Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. 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.