One can join as a deck cadet on board a ship after completing 10+2 with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics and train on the job for three years. After the on – job – training, one has to appear for the competency examination, as required by the Union Ministry of Surface Transport, to be eligible to become a Navigation Officer. There are three options available to 10+2 pass (with Chemistry, Physics and Maths) students to enter this line :
- Appear in IIT – JEE exam and join a Merchant Navy training institute for a Bachelor’s course in Marine Engineering to enter as 5th Engineer or a Junior Engineer.
- Appear in IIT – JEE exam and do B.Sc. in Nautical Science from a Merchant Navy training institute to enter as a Deck Cadet.
- Appear in IIT – JEE exam and do an Engineering course to enter as Engine Cadet, 5th Engineer or Junior Engineer.
Merchant Navy Courses :
The courses related to Merchant Navy should be approved by Director – General of Shipping, Government of India. The various pre – sea courses for joining Merchant Navy either as a Deck or Engineer Officer are :
- A four – year degree course leading to BE (Marine) after 10+2.
- The 2½ years course leading to Alternate Training Scheme for Marine Engineers (ATS) after 10+2.
- Degree course leading to B.Sc. (Nautical Science) after 10+2.
In addition, all the candidates who apply for the degree course should be physically and mentally fit. The Navigators are required to have a perfect eyesight, though marine engineers can wear spectacles for eyesight up to plus / minus 2.5. Colour blind people need not apply. The candidate must be immune to sea sickness.
There are two premier institutions which impart training for Merchant Navy :
- T.S. Chanakya, Mumbai which offers a three year degree course leading to B.Sc. in Nautical Sciences.
- The Marine Engineering Research Institute (MERI), Kolkata, which offers a four – year degree course leading to B.Tech. in Marine Engineering.
The navigating officers are trained in seamanship, navigation and ship maintenance and handling of navigational instruments. Exercise for physical fitness is compulsory and part of daily affairs. Students arc taught advanced marine engineering and technology during the four – year engineering programme at MERI. Also, various workshops are held to train students in overhauling, repairing and maintenance of the ship’s main and auxiliary machinery and shipboard systems. One has to accomplish at least two years of service at sea after completion of the three – year B.Sc. degree in Nautical Science to get a certificate of competency of Second Mate. This certificate is issued by the Union Ministry of Surface Transport and is a must if one wants to get a job on board a merchant ship. The certificate of T.S. Chanakya is equivalent to one year of sea service. In case one wants to join as deck cadet directly with a shipping company, one has to complete a minimum of three years’ service at sea to be eligible to take the Second Mate Examination.
There is a tremendous demand for trained navigating and marine officers by both the public sector as well as the private sector companies. Comparatively in this profession the salary structure is very high. In the domestic companies, the starting salaries may vary from 20,000 to 50,000 per month. In foreign ships, it could be as high as 1,00,000. Unlike other professions, shipping companies employ professionals on a contractual basis, which is for six to nine months. Since life onboard a ship is generally monotonous for most of the people, there are arrangements for all kinds of conveniences as well as entertainment in order to minimise boredom. Spacious lounges, televisions, indoor sports facilities and a range of other recreational facilities are now – a – days part and parcel of most of the ships. For the senior officers, the ships provide comfortable family accommodation.
Essentially, Merchant Navy is a career for men as there are very few jobs for women. From time to time, there have been suggestions to employ women as radio officers and doctors on the ship. So, if you like going on for long tours and at the same time earn good money Merchant Navy is definitely a good career option for you.