Introduction of Merchant Mariner
There’s more to being a Merchant Mariner than visiting every port and having a good time on the high seas. These coordinated and agile specialists transport products and people securely worldwide. Unsurprisingly, captains refer to them as their “right-hand persons.”
Similar Job Titles
- Merchant Seaman
- Third Mate
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do Merchant Mariners do?
A Merchant Mariner would typically need to:
- Operate and maintain commercial ships owned by civilians and the government in order to securely move freight and people via domestic and international waterways.
- Ensure the vessel’s good sailing while the captain is away; assume the skipper’s job in the event of an emergency.
- Schedule and supervise their subordinates’ professional activities to ensure the vessel’s smooth sailing.
- Calculate the ship’s geographical location, speed, and course using computers and other devices.
- Supervise the fueling, stocking, repair, maintenance, and security of the vessel; supervise deck, bridge, or other superstructure cleaning.
- Maintain stock, cargo, and passenger budgets, finances, and records; maintain ratings while providing instruction and support to officer trainees
- If you work as a navigation or deck officer, you will use various satellite and radar systems and equipment to manoeuvre the ship.
- Monitor and act on weather and navigation reports; handle ship communication systems
- Coordination of safe cargo loading, storage, and unloading in accordance with industry standards; management of passenger care and safety, if needed
- Supervise the operation and upkeep of deck machinery such as winches and cranes.
- Ensure that safety, firefighting, and life-saving equipment is inspected and maintained on a regular basis.
- Maintain ideal levels of health and safety on the ship; keep legal and operational documents, such as the ship’s log
- If you’re an engineering officer, you’ll be in charge of running and maintaining the power generating and distribution systems, as well as the refrigeration, ventilation, and pumping systems.
- Maintain, repaired, and upgrade onboard electronic and electrical systems, as well as equipment such as air compressors, pumps, and sewage facilities.
Standard Work Environment
Merchant Mariners typically work on air-conditioned vessels with first-rate amenities. While on duty, you should anticipate being exposed to a variety of weather situations. You may visit multiple ports, but your ship’s obligations and quick turnaround periods in port may limit your ability to go ashore.
Merchant Mariners perform long shifts on a rotating shift arrangement called “watches.” It may appear that working four hours followed by eight hours off is enjoyable, but keep in mind that you will be working every day that you are at sea.
Depending on the type of vessel you operate on, your time at sea and leave between journeys will range from a few days or weeks to several months.
Finding a new job may appear difficult. Joining a maritime union, asking their network for referrals, contacting shipping companies directly, using job search portals, attending job fairs, leveraging social media, and inquiring at staffing agencies can all help merchant mariners improve their employment hunt.
Merchant mariners are generally employed by:
- Government-Owned Ships
- Private Shipping Companies
- Oil, Gas & Chemical Tankers
- Bulk Cargo Carriers
- Cargo Container Ships
- Ferries & Cruise Ships
- Coastal Freighters
- Offshore Support Vessels
- Marine Insurance Companies
- Maritime Regulatory Authorities
- Maritime Training & Recruitment Companies
- Port Operations
Unions / Professional Organizations
Professional associations and organisations, such as the Seafarers’ International Union, are essential for Merchant Mariners who want to advance their careers or network with other professionals in their sector or occupation.
Membership in one or more of these organisations adds value to your CV while strengthening your credentials and qualifications. A union represents at least 16% of entry-level and senior Merchant Mariners, which helps them get hired for voyages through union recruiting halls or directly by shipping corporations.
- Physical and mental exhaustion and strain due to extreme weather conditions, irregular hours and emergencies
- Significant negative impact on work-life balance because of the long periods at sea
- The need to be caution about alcohol and drug use; proof of abuse through random checks can lead to suspension or dismissal
- Probability of occurrence of professional hazards such as fire, collision, sinking and falling overboard
- Possibility of injury when working with machinery, heavy loads, and dangerous cargo
Suggested Work Experience
Any academic programme for a potential Merchant Mariner is normally task-oriented and involves a period of hands-on instruction in line with seamen’s formal training and certification. It should typically include teaching on extinguishing live fires in a simulated setting. Furthermore, MMCs for specialised marine occupations necessitate seafaring experience.
As an alternative to cadets’ structured maritime education programme, eligible seamen choose to obtain their third mate’s licence through on-the-job training. Short training courses at union training facilities or specialist license-preparation courses given by commercial license-preparation institutions may supplement their work aboard ships or other boats.
You will get the most out of your real-time training at sea if it is exactly aligned with your classroom courses. When more experienced workers manage to turn seemingly ordinary occurrences into unique learning experiences, you may be able to hear endless stories from them and gain significant hands-on experience.
Prior work experience as an administrative assistant engineer, deckhand, or mate will make getting a position as a Merchant Mariner easier. Candidates who have served in the military or who have transferable abilities from occupations such as mechanical engineering may submit indirect applications if they can find a company willing to support additional training.
Completing an 18-24 month intermediate apprenticeship as a competent deckhand will permit employer-sponsored officer-rating training for entry-level sailors. Secondary-level academic competence in English and mathematics is required.
Read about the industry and speak with experienced merchant mariners to gain a better understanding of it as you work towards becoming one.
Although a high school diploma or GED (General Education Development) is sufficient for an entry-level position, an increasing number of Merchant Mariners are pursuing a diploma, an associate, or a bachelor’s degree in naval science, marine technology and operations, marine engineering, or marine transportation.
Your area may have a middle and high school maritime curriculum. Graduates of these demanding academic curricula in maritime studies, science, and technology are qualified to enter maritime service.
These courses may qualify you to continue your education in a vocational school, community college, service academy, or maritime academy. For more information, contact your local technical education department.
Graduates of recognised merchant marine academies may earn an MMC (Merchant Mariner’s Credential) as well as a BSc (Bachelor of Science) degree. Three letters of recommendation and a biographical essay are normally required, as well as a fitness assessment, a medical examination, and a nomination by an elected government official.
You can major in maritime science, operations, navigation, mechanical engineering, or marine engineering. Some maritime colleges and universities provide an industry-sponsored foundation degree, HND (higher national diploma), or a degree that prepares students for a job in the marine industry. For more information, contact the education providers.
Candidates who do not have the appropriate qualifications to enter an officer programme can take a one-year pre-cadetship course to learn the abilities needed to qualify for Merchant Mariner training.
Certifications, Licenses and Registration
Graduates of high schools that attend merchant marine academies earn an MMC (Merchant Mariner’s Credential), an officer rating, and their first merchant marine officer licence (third mate licence).
A TWIC (Transportation Workers Identification Credential) is required, as is a background screening, which includes an immigration status check, a terrorist watch list check, and a criminal history check. In addition to demonstrating that you are between the ages of 17 and 25 and that you have passed drug tests and physical examinations, you must pick between working in the engineering, deck, or steward’s departments.
To qualify for STCW (Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certification, candidates must complete training programmes such as the five-day Basic Safety Training course.
Projected Career Map
Merchant Mariners’ careers are driven by performance, experience, and the acquisition of professional certifications, with numerous prospects for development within command structures.
Senior Navigation Officers can advance to Master or Captain roles after becoming Senior Navigation Officers. Engineering Officers can advance to Senior Engineering Officers and eventually Chief Engineers.
You can either stay at sea or transfer to onshore marine positions where your managerial abilities will be put to use in the fleet, logistics coordination and training, marine, engineering, and general operation.
There are numerous opportunities in the larger marine business; you can examine ships to ensure their seaworthiness, manage ports and harbours, engage in maritime law or marine insurance, work for maritime regulatory organisations, or lecture/conduct research in higher education institutions.
Candidates with the required abilities, experience, and education have the highest chances of landing a job.
Beneficial Professional Development
CPD will assist an active Merchant Mariner in developing personal skills and proficiency through work-based learning, a professional activity, or self-directed learning. CPD also enables the ongoing renewal of coveted qualifications.
To obtain a master’s licence and all those that follow, you must complete layered periods of progressive classroom training and sea service. Senior officers will assist you in gaining extra skills and experience.
Progression to each rank requires additional academic or practical qualifications as well as competency certificates. Personal safety, safety legislation, and personal survival tactics training courses are also available through colleges, universities, and speciality training companies. Subject-specific refresher courses are yet another alternative for improving one’s field skills.
It is critical to stay current on maritime, legal, commercial, and political events. Furthermore, the rising use of computerised systems necessitates that Merchant Mariners adapt to the technologies utilised at sea.
Conclusion of Merchant Mariner
If you appreciate being on the sea so much that you can devote your energy and concentration to performing demanding chores day after day, every day for weeks or even months on end, a job as a Merchant Mariner could be right for you.
Advice from the Wise
The sea puts human endurance to the test. To be ready for any situation on board, you must be physically healthy and emotionally tough.
Explore Also: How to Become a Marine Mechanic