Working on board a ship is very interesting, challenging and fun. Most of the time served on board is restricted to the people you work with and being a unique environment it becomes your home. I have worked with people of different nationalities and one often develops lasting friendships with their co-workers.
Team work is of utmost importance because it can be a matter of life and death. We learn to rely on each other for help, not just physically but also mentally.
Advantages of choosing a career at sea are as follows;
a) You get to travel around the world, seeing different places and ‘get paid’ too.
b) What you earn is ‘TAX FREE’. Basically you will need to check this out in your own country. Most countries have this policy that you do not pay taxes if you are out of the country for a certain amount of time during a financial year.
c) Free boarding and lodging as you get food, no paying rent, bills for electricity or gas. You get to save most of your earnings.
d) Jobs at sea are always in demand. As of 2009, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has completed a survey and the report shows that there is a huge shortage of officers and a huge supply of ships that are presently unmanned or lying idle.
e)International employment in companies around the world and job security due to the huge shortage and demand for skilled mariners.
f) Long leave and flexibility of work. Most shipping companies have a four month rotation, where you work for four months and get four months off and get paid your base salary. In the off-shore industry you work eight weeks and get eight weeks off
Dis-advantages of a sea career
a) Away from family and friends for long periods of time. This can be hard but once you get used to it, the time just goes by very quickly
b) Dangers at sea – range from fires to storms, hurricanes, capsizing, explosions and of course being take hostage by pirates which has been all over the news of late especially off the course of Somalia.
c) Traveling to overseas ports to join a ship can be quite daunting as one has to go through medicals, getting a visa and then the travel.
d) Paper work has increased with all the security after 9/11. Masters are now hounded in port by the local authorities, surveyors, port state control and not forgetting the humble shipping agent.
However, the pros outweigh the cons and in my humble opinion life on a ship is very rewarding.
In the future after you have spent 15 or more years out at sea, like myself and you get married, have a family and then decide its time to give up sailing and come ashore to work there are plenty of career paths to choose from which I will explain in detail in my next post.
Till then, happy reading and wish you all the best