Merchant Navy - Careers, Salary, Jobs, Scope

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The Merchant Navy portrays a form of career where people are allowed to travel extensively around the world forming an air of awe towards the career. It offers commercial services, unlike the navy which focuses on the defence of the country. The merchant navy is considered as a glamorous job among many.

It is considered to act as a mode of transport, especially for international trade. The ships stock goods and move them to and fro to different countries carrying cargo all over the world. The business of import and export depend on the merchant navy.

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The merchant navy officers are employed by large commercial shipping companies. These officers work on hovercrafts, cargo ships, tankers and cruise liners. Companies such as Chevron, Mobil of USA, Wallem Ship Management of Hong Kong run merchant ships and employ a large number of workers. Indian companies also run merchant ships and some of them are Shipping Corporation of India, Great Eastern Shipping, Essar and Chowgule Shipping.

Merchant navy officers spend a considerable portion of their careers on ships in the middle of seas or oceans. They work away from home for months at a time and while on the ship, are expected to work during the evenings as well as the weekends. Due to this reason, the companies compensate by providing their employees with generous holiday allowances. Merchant navy officers also have to be prepared to work under adverse weather conditions while at sea.


There are various job opportunities for those seeking a career in the merchant navy. Similar to other careers, the merchant navy also constitutes of a hierarchy to ensure smooth running of their business and to avoid miscommunication of work. The merchant navy can be divided into three main departments. These are:

  1. Deck Department
  2. Engine Department and
  3. Catering Department

The deck department is where the critical equipment of the ship is stored and where the the navigation is the ship is taken care of. The cargo operations are also handled here.

The engine department is where the marine engineers and ratings responsible for the engines operations work.

The catering department is where the meals of the passengers are taken care of and housekeeping is also looked after.


The captain of the ship is the highest commanding authority and has the final say in all matters. He/she handles all the legal maritime issues and oversees all operations on board. A captain’s salary would start from 2 lakhs per month. It would take a third officer close to 8 years to get promoted to the rank of the Captain.

Chief Officer/ First Mate

The chief officer is second in command to the Captain. He is the executive head of the deck department.

Chief Engineer

The chief engineer is the head of the engine department on any vessel. Operations and the maintenance of the machinery in this department run on the chief engineer’s orders.

A chief engineer’s salary per month accounts to 1.5 Lakhs. It starts with the post of Junior engineer and it takes about 6-7 years for them to be promoted to the chief engineers rank.

Second engineer
He is accountable to the Chief Engineer and oversees all the day to day activities in the engine department.

Chief cook

The chief cook makes sure the galley area is hygienic. It is his duty to make sure that food is being prepared for all those on boards and to assist them in the cooking preparations.


The starting salary for those in the merchant navy can be anywhere from Rs.15,000/- to 8 lakhs per month. Deck cadets can get paid Rs.20,000/-to Rs. 30,000/- per month and Deck Officers get paid Rs.1, 50,000/- monthly.

The pay scale can also be different and depend on the company persons are employed with. All crew members and officers are provided with free meals on board the ships. Some like the senior officers are also allowed to bring their families on board.


Major companies recruit workers to work in their companies in the merchant navy business. Some of these recruiters are:

  1. GMMCO Limited
  2. Carnival Cruise Line
  3. TMC Shipping Pvt Ltd.
  4. ITT Shipping (P) Ltd.
  5. American Cruise Lines
  6. Ocean Shipping Service Pvt. Ltd.
  7. Anglo Eastern Ship Management
  8. The Great Eastern Ship Company Ltd.
  9. Northern Marine Management (India) Pvt. Ltd.


These are the Degrees offered in universities for those interested in pursuing a career in the Merchant Navy

  1. B.Sc. Nautical Science
  2. B.E. Marine Engineering
  3. B.E. Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering
  4. B.E. Petroleum Engineering
  5. B.E. Mechanical Engineering
  6. B.E. Harbour& Ocean Engineering
  7. B.E. Civil Engineering
  8. B.E. Electrical & Electronics Engineering
  9. B.Sc. Marine Catering
  10. Electro Technical Officer Course


The eligibility criteria to complete courses to enter the merchant navy are as follows:

  • Candidates have to be Indian citizens.
  • Candidates have to be unmarried (Flexible according the designation).
  • Candidates need to pass 12th standard with the subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.
  • Candidates with a normal or perfect vision are required but those with glasses of up to or minus 2.5 may also be allowed.
  • Admission to candidates is granted after a screening process and the main written examination.
  • After clearing the written test, there is a medical test and an interview.
  • A ship-training course prior to the employment is required for candidates to undertake. The course is generally short-term where the candidates are taught basic security concerns of voyaging.


There are many private institutes as well that provide training courses to students and train them for jobs such as deck cadets etc.

There are numerous Indian institutes in India that provide courses to aspirants who wish to join the field of merchant Navy. These institutes are recognized by the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India and the Directorate General Of India which is also attached to the ministry.

S.No. College Name State/Area
1. Training Ship Chanakya Navi Mumbai
2. Marine Engineering and Research Institute Mumbai
3. Marine Engineering and Research Institute Kolkata
4. C.V. Raman College of Engineering Bhubaneshwar
5. LalBahadurShastri College of Advanced Maritime Studies and Research Mumbai
2. AMET University Chennai
3. Balaji Seamen Training Institute Chennai
4. Chennai School of Ship Management Chennai
5. Chidambaram Institute of Maritime Technology Chennai
6. CMC Maritime Academy Chennai
7. Cosmopolitan Technology of Maritime Chennai
8. Hindustan Institute Of Maritime Training Post Sea  Training Centre Chennai
9. HIMT College Hindustan Institute Of Maritime Training  Pre-Sea Training Centre Chennai
10. School of Seamanship and Nautical Technology Tamil Nadu

Training Ship Chanakya

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The candidate should be atleast 20 years of age at the time of applying and have minimum 60% in 10+2 which must include Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. The admission to this course is done by JEE conducted by IIT. Tuition fee varies from Rs.30,000 to Rs 2,20,000 per annum as per the course and gender.

Marine Engineering and Research Institute, Mumbai

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To be eligible for the course, candidates must have a mechanical engineering or a naval architecture degree from an AICTE recognized institute. The fees for this course is around Rs.1,40,000/- including tuition, housing.

Marine Engineering and Research Institute, Kolkata

The institute provides a 4 year degree in the Marine Engineering and is affiliated to Jadavpur University. Admission to this course is also done by JEE conducted by IIT. The admission procedure and fees is similar to Training Ship Chanakya.

Lal Bahadur Shastri College of Advanced Maritime Studies and Research, Mumbai

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The college is established by the ministry of transport, government of India. The institute has its own admission procedure for students. Students need to complete training courses after which they need to sit for competency exams which enable them for employment onboard ships.

After acquiring the certificate of competency he/she can be placed on ships and can also be paid a salary.

There are mainly two specializations in the field-

  1. Marine Engineering
  2. Nautical (Deck)

For those interested in seafaring, pre-sea courses are available.


The course consists of navigation, stability, cargo work, bridge equipment, math’s and physics (brief knowledge), ship construction, chart work, workshop and seamanship.

The rest of the theory and practical work imparted depends on the person’s course that they have chosen to specialize in.

For officers:

  1. 3 year degree course in Nautical Science
  2. 4 year degree course in Marine Engineering
  3. 2 year course for diploma holders
  4. 1 year course for graduate mechanical engineers
  5. 3 month course for deck cadets

For those interested in Rating:

  1. 4 month Pre – sea course for general purpose
  2. 3 month Pre – sea course for deck rating
  3. 3 month Pre – sea course for engine rating
  4. 4 month Pre – sea course for saloon rating

If candidates wish to, they can also join as petty officers after completing four basic courses. These courses are FPFF, EFA, PSSR and PST.


IMU-CET is a common entrance exam given all over India to gain admission into various marine courses such as Deck Cadet Course, B.Sc. Nautical Science, B.E. Marine Engineering.

The common exam will consist of 200 multiple choice questions each containing one mark and will be for duration of 3 hours. The six subjects included in the exam are as follows:

Subject No. Of Questions
English 40
General Aptitude 40
Mathematics 50
Physics 50
Chemistry 20

IMU CET application process is completely online. The fees is to be paid online with the general candidates to pay Rs. 1000/- and the ST/SC to pay Rs.700/-. Candidates should make sure the following documents are in hand while applying:

  1. A Scanned copy of the candidates signature
  2. A scanned copy of the passport sized photo of the candidate
  3. A scanned copy o the 10th STD certificate or birth certificate
  4. A community certificate from the ST/SC and OBC.


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Joining the merchant Navy is one of the most promising choices of careers available to young people. Not only is it an adventurous job but the travel and being allowed to manage maritime issues is highly educational to those working.

The high salary they provide is also another advantage. As a career field, it seems to be growing vastly with every year.

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