Job Opportunities in Indian Merchant Navy

Job opportunities in Indian Merchant Navy are as huge as the oceans our ships sail on.

Apart from the excitement and adventure of seeing the entire world, the Indian Merchant Navy gives Indians the chance to work on a wide variety of the most modern, technologically advanced and safe fleet of oil and gas supertankers, container ships, liquid carriers and bulk cargo carriers.

The wages are attractive and career advancement is excellent with quick promotions on the job.

Indian ships also provide the comfort of working alongside fellow Indians as workmates and enjoy the familiar Indian cuisine.

The Captain or Master of the Ship

The Captain is the Master or ‘CEO’ of the ship with overall charge. All personnel on the ship from the Nautical, Engineering and Catering Departments report to him. The Captain works his way up to this position after acquiring decades of sailing experience on different vessels and different sea routes and clearing scores of training examinations and refresher courses. The Captain is from the Nautical Department.

The Nautical Department with Deck or Navigation Officers

Officers of this Department are also called Deck Officers or Navigation Officers. They start their careers as Cadets and work their way up through the positions of 3rd Rank Officer, 2nd Rank Officer and Chief Officer. The highest position an officer acquire is Captain or Master.

Deck or Navigation Cadets and Officers require a B.Sc. degree in Nautical Science and a Certificate of Competency after the requisite experience at sea. Many companies pick up Deck Cadets directly and train them on their ships till they get a Certificate of Competency. It is best to graduate from institutions approved by the Directorate General of Shipping.

Those with a B.Sc. degree with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics are also eligible for jobs after a one year pre-sea training course from Indian Maritime University and a Certificate of Competency.

Job Responsibilities include:

  1. Steering, maneuvering and navigation of the ship along with deck operations
  2. Maintenance
  3. Communication
  4. Crew and passenger safety
  5. Cargo handling and storage
  6. Overseeing commercial matters and adherence to shipping/maritime laws

The Engineering Department with Engineering Officers  

Marine Engineers or Engineering Officers operate the mechanical and electrical equipment on the ships. They work their way up from positions of Junior Engineers to Chief Engineer, who reports to the Captain or Master of the ship.

An Electro Technical Officer who in many cases reports to the Chief Engineer is in charge of the electronic and electrical equipment on the ship.

A four year degree in Marine Engineering from an institute approved by the Directorate General Shipping and a Certificate of Competency are required. A B.E. in Mechanical/Naval Architecture followed by a one year pre-sea training course from Indian Maritime University is also accepted by many Indian employers. A Certificate of Competency is earned after the requisite experience at sea.

Job Responsibilities include operations and maintenance of equipment such as:

  1. Engine Room Compressors
  2. Pumps and Hydraulics
  3. Power Generation
  4. Water Plant
  5. Sewage Plant
  6. Electrical Systems
  7. Refrigeration and Ventilation
  8. Cargo handling

A very high level of problem solving ability is needed to handle breakdowns, repairs and maintenance while at sea and at the port.

Medical Officers

The Merchant Navy requires Medical Officers for their fleet of passenger vessels and research vessels. The qualification required is MBBS degree along with an Indian CDC or Continuous Discharge Certificate of Identity. Onshore Medical Officers are required at the Head Office and major Indian ports to treat sick sailors and certify their fitness before sailing.

Catering Department

Most Cargo carrying vessels on long coastal and overseas voyages have a small Catering Department with a Cook or Cook Steward and a few Kitchen Helpers.

The Cruise Industry in India has not evolved because of the huge investments involved in Luxury Liners. Despite this, many Indian Chefs, Pursers, Bartenders, Fitness Experts, Waiters and Housekeeping Staff with the relevant Hospitality Industry experience and skills are widely employed with International Cruise Ships.

In recent years, a few limited career opportunities involving Catering and Hospitality have emerged on local luxury cruises on ships such as the Oberoi Motor Vessel ‘Vrinda’ on the backwaters in Kerala or  the ‘M.V. Mahabaahu’ on the Brahmaputra.

Deck, Engine Room and Saloon Ratings

Ratings are sailors who support their officers on day-to-day tasks.

Deck Ratings assist the Deck Officers in watch keeping, deck operations, deck maintenance, cargo handling and in securing the ship to the dock.

Engine Room Ratings assist Engineering Officers in oiling, maintaining and repairing the equipment on the ship.

Saloon Ratings assist in Catering and department.

10th/SSC pass Indians aged around 17-25 years who are medically fit as per Merchant Shipping Rules are eligible for the positions of Rating. Deck and Engine Room Ratings require good 6/6 eye sight with color vision.

Shore- based Jobs

Many shore-based jobs exist with Indian Shipping Companies and Port Authorities. Those with the relevant experience on ships are preferred. These include jobs in:

  1. Harbor Management and Pilot age
  2. Ship Repair and Maintenance
  3. Surveying Ships
  4. Teaching and Training


For any information, feedback, queries or suggestions, email us at info@maritimeolympiad.com. To share a story, pictures, video, or article, email us at submissions@maritimeolympiad.com

Saahil Walia

I like writing about different things going around the world. Working on my writing skills and gaining experience in this new phase of life.

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