When we think of transportation, we usually think about cars or planes, but forget the important role the maritime transportation industry plays in the area of commercial transport and also commuter transit. A Sea Captain is by definition a high-grade licensed mariner in ultimate command of a Merchant vessel. They are responsible for the safe and correct operation of the sea vessel, which includes its seaworthiness, safety and security conditions, operations involving cargo and passengers, navigations, crew management and compliance with local and international laws. Every person on board, no matter if they are members of the crew, passengers, guests, other pilots, officers, state and public authorities and other shipboard staff are part of the captain’s responsibility and under his immediate authority.
Being a Ship’s Captain is a great opportunity to travel, see the world and live adventures every day while commanding a billion dollar vessel.
How to become a ship’s captain
Attending high school is necessary in order to start your path correctly towards a career as a captain. There are specialized high schools called Maritime High Schools in the United States where you can follow a curriculum designed specifically by the U.S Maritime Administration. Courses focus on math, English, sciences and other subjects having to do with maritime skills, law, and career training. Having a Maritime High School degree is highly recommended due to the competitiveness of the field, however is isn’t mandatory and is by no means the only way to reach your goal. This is an overview of Maritime High School government created curriculum for courses in General Maritime Studies and Careers.
Getting a part-time or summer job in anything related with ships like a shipyard or on board employment can help you greatly to get used to the names of ship parts, general language and knowledge about roles within the vessel, chain of command and general experience on the sea.
Applying for and attending a Merchant Marine Academy can highly raise your chances of landing a good job in the industry. These academies allow you to obtain four-year Bachelor of Science degrees that teach engineering, maritime law and ship construction. Most candidates strive to get a position as a cruise ship captain, as they are some of the most pursued posts in the field, but even if you can’t get something like that, a diploma from a Marine Academy will for sure help you find employment with the government or even as a merchant marine captain for private companies.
As we mentioned earlier is important to try to get some experience even before you graduate from school. Academies usually have agreements and joint programs with companies and can help you become part of internship programs in cruise lines, with the government or in private businesses.
After graduating from the academy, it is important to get a job in an actual vessel and take advantage of the placement services most institutions offer to allow their alumni land their first job. Even though your goals are those of becoming a captain, a position as a third mate or a deck officer is a great place to start to gain valuable experience in a sea-faring vessel. Having a bachelor degree greatly shortens the time and experience you need in order to climb the ship’s hierarchy because you are able to skip being a deckhand all together. However, your academic career isn’t over yet.
Obtaining a Master’s of Science degree in maritime engineering, maritime science, or a related field is something that can make a huge difference in making you a viable candidate for positions like a cruise ship captain or anything that is highly sought after in the field.
Depending on where you want to work, you will need different certifications dictated by the local government in order to work as a captain. This information depends on the country you want to work and the routes you will take.
Your last step would be to take your marine captain’s license exams. In the U.S. for example, the US Coast Guard administers the test and it requires you to have at least 10 years of experience in the field. As you know, this type of job is not something you can pick up one day on the go and make a living of. Being a captain requires a lot of dedication, hard work and a life devoted to the dream of piloting a ship through the seas. Before even thinking about applying for a position in a crew ship, you must hold a position as a marine captain for a number of years and have an impeccable performance record.
There are many ways to dedicate your life to travel, some are faster and easier to follow but they are rewarding for those who love adventure and aren’t satisfied with what we know as “regular jobs”.
For more information about amazing ways to make a living as you travel, check out our posts in Royal Holiday Jobs.