The merchant navy is a collective name for the shipping industry, made up of private companies transporting all forms of cargo from country to country, via sea passage. This cargo can be anything from Oil, Containers containing products, bulk cargoes such as iron ore, or even passengers (cruise ships).Before commencing your training/cadet ship, you need to decide which department you would like to start your career. One option is the "Deck Department" where you will become a Deck Officer, with the intention of rising through the ranks to be Master/Captain of the ship. Your actual work involves navigating the ship, planning the ships routes, and performing of the cargo operations.Cargo operations vary depending on the type of ships you work on, and the company you work for.
The other option is to join the "Engine Department", where you will become a Marine Engineering Officer with the aim of become the Chief Engineer of the vessel.Including mechanical engineering (all types of machinery including diesel engines and propulsion), system and plant engineering (the ship is the equivalent to a small town requiring electricity, water, sanitation, etc), as well as learning how to maintain and fabricate (welding and lathe) components and machinery.Whichever career path you choose, you start by studying as a Cadet. This Cadetship training lasts approximately 4 years. In the UK, upon completing your cadet ship, you acquire NVQ qualifications, a HND (higher national diploma) and your relevant COC (Certificate of Competency) required to work on the vessel as a licensed officer.
The Advantages of joining the Merchant Navy:
Cadets get paid to train. Unlike most studies, where you pay to study, companies hire cadet to train. In 2008/2009 cadets can get paid around 16,000 a year to study. Not bad, considering
your friends are paying to go to College or University!
Upon completing your training, you earn a decent salary, that is income tax free. As long as you are out of the country for more than 6 months a year, you never pay income tax. Additionally, if the ships are not registered in the UK, you also do not need to pay national insurance. As soon as you leave college, you can expect a starting salary of 25,000+ tax free, at the age of 20.As you progress through the ranks, salaries increase at a decent rate, up to Captains and Chief engineers receiving $60,000+ tax free. (if you where a tax payer, also paying national insurance, I believe you would need to earn 100,000 pa to clear this kind of money.
Job security. The world will always need ships, and ships will always need competent officers. There are many companies, who are always searching for competent officers, so changing companies if you are unhappy is relatively simple.
Getting paid to travel and see countries you would not normally visit. While shore leave when onboard is normally quite short, you normally get time to visit countries when flying overseas to join or leave the vessel.
Long leave periods between leaving and joining ships. The average leave, or holiday time, is 2 months off work when you get off the ship. This is your free time to do whatever you want whilst at home, and you salary continues to be paid.
The disadvantages of joining the Merchant Navy:
Long periods of time away from friends and family. The average trip onboard a ship is 3 months.
Working 7 day of the week whilst onboard, although most companies allow one 1/2 day off a week.
Mentally and physically demanding work onboard.
What I call the "Big Brother Effect". I am sure you have seen the TV show. As you all work and live onboard the ship, you are confined to living in close proximity to people whom you might not always get along with.Taking into consideration all the advantages and disadvantages, this career is not for everyone. If you are prepared to make the sacrifices listed above, then the financial rewards are great.Onboard the ship, you have no expenses to pay, food and accommodation is all supplied by your company, so it is a great way to save your relatively high salary.