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Career in Merchant Navy

What is Merchant Navy?

According to Wikipedia, A merchant navy or merchant marine or mercantile marine is the fleet of merchant vessels that are registered in a specific country. On merchant vessels, seafarers of various ranks and sometimes members of maritime trade unions are required by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW) to carry Merchant Mariner's Documents.

In simple words, ships or crews engaged in commercial shipping of a nation is The Merchant Navy.

Now the crew in a ship comprises of staff that belong to different ranks. The categorization is designed like:

Deck Department OFFICERS:

1. Master ( Captain)

2. Additional Master

3. Chief Officer (Mate)

4. Additional Chief Mate

5. Second Officer (2nd Mate)

6. Third Officer (3rd Mate)

7. Additional Third Officer (Add. 3rd Mate)

8. Cadet (Trainee Officer)


1. Pump man (On tankers) / Deck fitter (on bulk carriers)

2. Boson

3. AB (Able Seaman)

4. OS (Ordinary Seaman)

5. Trainee OS



1. Chief Engineer (Bade Saab)

2. Second Engineer

3. Third Engineer

4. Fourth Engineer

5. Fifth Engineer ( Trainee engineer)

6. Electrical Officer


1. Motorman

2. Fitter

3. Wiper

4. Trainee wiper

Catering department (under master)

1. Chief cook

2. General Steward


Merchant Navy is very specific about the staff they choose and hence the list of their requirements is long and each of the requirements is very important. To understand the requirements better, they are categorized under four heads:


Subjects in Class 12th

Science (Physics, Chemistry & Mathematics) with at least 60 % in your class 12th and should also have 50% marks in English.

Relationship Status

You should be unmarried.

Eye Vision

If you are pursuing (Maritime Science, etc.) should have 6/6 for each eye. If you are joining (Marine Engineering), you will be allowed up to plus or minus 2.5. Un-aided vision should be 6/12 in both eyes minimum, or 6/9 in the good eye and 6/12 in the other eye at least. Any kind of color blindness is not allowed.


You should be at least 17 years at the time of the joining, and not more than 22 years at the time of application. If you wish to join after B.Sc/, you should not be more than 25-28. (Differs according to rank)

Physical Fitness

Physical fitness holds importance to join Merchant Navy. You would require a certificate from a medical doctor before joining the course.


There are two major profiles through which you can join the Merchant Navy i.e. Cadet & Engineer.

1. Navigation Officer (Cadet):

If you want to enroll as a cadet, you can do the B.Sc. B.Sc Maritime, Nautical Science, B.Sc. Maritime Catering, etc.

Admission Process

IMU CET – You are required to clear IMU- CET which is conducted by Indian Maritime University. Once you clear IMU-CET, you are eligible for B.Sc Nautical Science in all the colleges affiliated to Indian Maritime University. The entrance exam is followed by an interview and medical check-up.

JEE – In various government colleges, the admission is based on the marks secured on the JEE exam which is conducted by the IITs. The admission in T.S.Chanakya, Marine Engineering & Research Institute, Kolkata, & National Maritime Academy, Chennai is based on the JEE marks. They are required to fill the forms for IMU as well.

2. Engineer:

You'll begin to work as a Cadet or Junior Engineer. They take care of the engine, boiler, generator, etc. and make sure that all the machines on the board are working fine. The other positions are Third Engineer, Second Engineer, and Chief Engineer. You will step up the role with sea experience and various examinations performed at each stage.

To work as an Engineer, you should pursue a bachelor’s in one of the following disciplines:

  • Marine Engineering

  • Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering

  • Petroleum Engineering

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Harbor & Ocean Engineering

  • Civil Engineering

  • Electrical & Electronics Engineering

Admission Process

IMU CET – You are required to clear IMU- CET which is conducted by Indian Maritime University. Once you clear IMU-CET, you are eligible for Nautical Science, in Marine Engineering etc. in all the colleges affiliated to Indian Maritime University.

JEE – Some government colleges admit students on the basis of the JEE score. As engineers are also eligible to join Merchant Navy, you can sit for JEE and join the traditional engineering colleges as well.

The preferable Institutes for studying courses related to the Merchant Navy are:

1. Tolani Maritime Institute, Pune

2. AMET, Chennai

3. MERI, Kolkata

4. MANET, Pune

5. IMI, Noida

6. SIMS, Lonavala

7. T.S.Chanakya- IMU- CET Website:

8. IIT Kharagpur- IIT- JEE Website:

9. Vels Academy of Maritime Studies, Chennai Website:

10. Great Eastern Maritime Training Institute, Lonavala Website:


There are certain skills that you need to posses to be a part of the Merchant Navy:

To be a Merchant Navy engineering officer you should:

  • Have and aptitude for mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering

  • Have excellent math’s, science, technology and IT skills

  • Be able to communicate effectively with staff at all levels

  • Be able to priorities workloads

  • Be able to plan effectively including contingencies

  • Be able to accept responsibility

  • Be decisive

  • Have good team working skills

  • Be able to cope with being away from home, often for long periods of time.

To be a Merchant Navy navigation officer you should:

  • Be confident, able to assume responsibility and to inspire confidence in crew members

  • Be interested in, and able to understand and use, the latest vessel technology

  • Be able to cope with being away from home, often for long periods of time

  • Be able to work in a team

  • Have excellent mathematical ability - this is of great importance for making navigational calculations

  • Have good spoken and written communication skills

  • Be calm and decisive in emergencies

  • Be enthusiastic and self-reliant.

Training & Examinations

The candidates undergo 1 year of pre-sea training at the Maritime Training Institute after completing the course, and before joining the ship as a Navigation Officer. After graduation and before entering the ship, it is a mandatory preparation. Following the pre-sea preparation, the cadets are placed on ships for approximately 18 months of training. They get a stipend of around 15-40k during this period. Following their preparation, they are qualified to appear for the Indian government's competency test. After passing this examination you may enter the ship as a third officer.

Engineering candidates are also sent for a year on the pre-sea training, before being sent on board. They are then put on the ship for an estimated training duration of 6 months. After their training period, they appear the competency examination and work as the fourth engineer on ships.

Job Outlook:


There is a great deal of scope in the field, and the Merchant Navy is one of the most lucrative careers. There are multiple types of ships carrying various kinds of cargo. One can find employment according to the area of their interest or availability in the market, although it will totally depend upon the vacancy of various fields.

Average Income:

The starting salary of Navigation Officers is around Rs.40,000- Rs.50,000. After completing sea period, competency exams and after joining the ship, their salary would jump to Rs.90,000 - Rs.1,20,000

Similarly, the Engineers earn around Rs.50,000 in the beginning and it can reach up to Rs.1,00,000 - Rs.2,00,000.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the types of Merchant Navy Cargos?

Ans.: Types of Merchant Navy Cargos

Bulk Carrier

Reefer Ship

Roll on/ Roll Off Ship

Oil Tanker/ Chemical Tanker

LNG Carrier

Which type of Institutions are the best?

Ans.: Institutions that provide placements are usually preferred more than the ones that don’t.

Is it safe to join Merchant Navy?

Ans.: Merchant Navy is risky but you are trained and paid well to handle that risk. According to Quora, Merchant Navy Officers are trained in such a way that they are competent to turn a risky situation into a favorable one.

Is sailing a permanent job?

Ans.: Most shipping companies operate their ships on a contractual basis, to be more precise, nearly 70% of them. Also the remaining 30 per cent of companies do not have a permanent job clause in their contracts; instead, they run ships on year-round contracts. So, sailing for companies is not a permanent job – The job is either in fixed contracts or round-the-year basis.

Does Merchant Navy Officers get pension?

Ans.: Merchant Navy Officers Pension Fund (MNOPF) provides pension to retired employees. The Company offers pension on retirement and protection on death for officers in the mercantile marine industry.

Which are the best companies in Merchant Navy?

YouTube References


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