Joining the Merchant Navy: Criteria, Qualifications, Selection, Salary, and Job Types – A Naval vs. Merchant Navy Comparison

Merchant Navy

Table of Contents

Introduction To Merchant Navy

Commercial ships and vessels are part of the Merchant Navy, which is a crucial sector of the maritime industry. Transporting goods, commodities, and passengers around the world is its main focus. Instead of focusing on defence, its primary focus is on commercial operations. If you like the sea, are seeking adventure, and are looking for a challenging career, then joining the Merchant Navy is the perfect fit for you. An exciting career in the Merchant Navy offers you a chance to travel, experience different cultures, learn valuable skills, and earn an attractive salary and benefits while gaining valuable experience.

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Rank Hierarchy In Merchant Navy

Rank Hierarchy In Merchant Navy

Merchant Navy Jobs Types

Merchant Navy jobs include the following:

Deck Department:

Officers and Captain:

Captains, or masters, are the highest-ranking officers responsible for ship operations. Deck Cadets assist the Chief Officer and Second Officer in navigation, safety, and cargo operations.

Communication and Navigation Officers:

A navigation officer is responsible for handling the vessel’s navigation equipment, maintaining charts, interacting with port authorities, and ensuring its safe passage.

Department of Engineering:

Engineering officers and chief engineers:

It is the Chief Engineer’s responsibility to carry out engineering operations, maintenance, and repairs on the vessel. Propulsion systems, machinery, and equipment are operated and maintained by engineering officers.

Electrical Officers:

Onboard the ship, they maintain electrical systems, power generation, and distribution systems.

Department of Catering:

Officers responsible for stewarding and catering:

Managing the ship’s accommodation, food service, and provisions is the responsibility of the catering department. Catering officers manage inventory, food preparation, and hygiene as well as ensuring passenger comfort.

Support Services:

Radio Officers:

Assuring compliance with international regulations and handling communication equipment are the responsibilities of these officers.

Medical Officers:

A medical officer maintains onboard medical facilities, cares for crew members, and responds to medical emergencies onboard.

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There are many job roles in the Merchant Navy. These are just a few examples. Assisting on deck and in engine rooms are ratings like Able Seaman and Ordinary Seaman. As part of the Merchant Navy workforce, specialized roles like Marine Pilots, Ship Surveyors, and Naval Architects may also be found.

What are the criteria for joining the merchant navy?

What Are The Steps To Join The Merchant Navy?

A person must meet certain criteria in order to become a member of the Merchant Navy. Among these criteria are age restrictions, educational requirements, and physical fitness standards. Each criterion is outlined below:

Merchant Navy Entry Criteria:

Age Requirements:

Different countries and positions within the Merchant Navy have different minimum and maximum age requirements. There may be an upper age limit for joining, and individuals must generally be 16 or 18 years old.

Requirements for education:

The Merchant Navy requires a variety of educational qualifications for various positions. High school diplomas or equivalents are typically required for entry-level positions, such as ratings and cadets. However, officers are usually required to have a degree in a relevant field such as marine engineering or nautical science.

Standards for physical fitness:

Candidates must meet certain physical fitness standards since working in the Merchant Navy involves physically demanding tasks and working in challenging conditions at sea. A candidate must meet certain health and fitness standards, as well as be able to swim and see well.

The requirements may differ based on the country, the company, and the job position. For accurate and up-to-date information regarding registration criteria for the Merchant Navy, it is recommended to contact the relevant authorities or maritime institutions.

Certifications and qualifications both in engineering and in non-engineering fields

Merchant Navy positions are available to individuals with engineering and non-engineering backgrounds. Each background requires the following qualifications and certifications:

Engineering Background:

Engineers with engineering backgrounds may be required to earn a diploma or degree in Marine Engineering. Ship construction, maintenance, and marine propulsion systems are topics covered in this program.

Engine Room Ratings: Engineers with an engineering background may also be considered for the position. Having the ability to operate and maintain ships’ machinery and equipment is one of their responsibilities. It is typically necessary to have a relevant engineering diploma or certification.

Non-Engineering Background:

People without engineering backgrounds but interested in navigation and ship operations typically pursue a degree or diploma in Nautical Science. Maritime law, navigation, and meteorology are some of the topics covered in this program.

Certifications required:

To work in the Merchant Navy, one must have certain mandatory certifications, regardless of one’s background. By obtaining these certifications, individuals can ensure their safety and competence. In the field of training, certification, and watchkeeping, Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) have the highest importance. On board ships, it covers a range of topics related to safety and operations.

Certifications in additional areas of expertise:

There may be a need for additional specialized certifications based on the specific job roles and responsibilities. Other relevant certifications would include Advanced Firefighting, Medical First Aid, Radar Navigation, and Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats.

Depending on the country, company, and position one is applying for in the Merchant Navy, the specific qualifications and certifications may vary. In order to obtain accurate and current information about a specific career path in the Merchant Navy, you should research requirements set by maritime authorities or consult maritime training institutions.

Steps in the selection process

A candidate’s qualification, capability, and fit for the roles he or she will undertake at sea are evaluated at several stages during the selection process. A typical selection process consists of the following stages:


A candidate’s first step is to submit an application to the agency or company that recruits them. Among the information included in this application are personal details, educational qualifications, and supporting documents.

Written Examinations:

Written exams may be given to assess a candidate’s knowledge of subject matter related to the Merchant Navy, such as mathematics, physics, English, and general aptitude. According to the country and position applied for, the examination format and topics may vary.

Medical Examinations:

In order to qualify to work at sea, candidates must undergo comprehensive medical examinations. A general health examination, a vision exam, a hearing test, and a fitness test are all performed.

Personal Interviews:

Candidates who are shortlisted for interviews will be evaluated on their communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and suitability for the position. It is possible that a panel of interviewers will ask a candidate questions about their background, motivations, and knowledge of the Merchant Navy during the interview.

Psychometric Tests:

It is common for companies to conduct psychometric tests on candidates to assess their personality traits, cognitive abilities, and psychological suitability for working in maritime environments.

Programs for pre-sea training include:

Applicants who are accepted for sea duty may have to complete pre-sea training programs, which are also called cadetships or officer training programs. Candidates gain the necessary skills and knowledge for their positions through these programs, which provide theoretical and practical training appropriate to the role.

Selection processes in the Merchant Navy vary by country, company, and position applied for. To get accurate and up-to-date information about the selection process, candidates should consult with the relevant authorities or recruiting agencies.

Benefits and salary

It is possible to earn a competitive salary and receive a wide range of benefits by working in the Merchant Navy. Here are some critical aspects related to salary and benefits:

Salary Structure:

It varies from rank to rank, experience to experience, ship type to company policy in the Merchant Navy. Compared to many other industries, the salaries at the Merchant Navy are generally attractive and higher.

Among the perks and allowances are:

Merchant Navy employees often receive additional allowances and perks in addition to their base salary. Performance-based incentives, overtime pay, and seniority bonuses are some examples. In addition, individuals may receive free accommodation, meals, and medical care while on board.

Long-Term Career Prospects:

Career prospects in the Merchant Navy are excellent over the long term. Salaries and benefits increase as individuals gain experience and progress in their careers. Promotions are available to higher ranks, which come with increased responsibilities and compensation.

Working in the Merchant Navy offers extensive international exposure and travel opportunities. Through sailing across oceans and waterways around the world, employees get to experience different cultures.

Training and Skill Development:

Continuous skill development and training are important to the Merchant Navy. Companies invest in their employees’ professional development by offering them the opportunity to upgrade their skills, attend courses, and upgrade their qualifications. By investing in these programs, you can enhance your career prospects and earn more money.

Differentiating the Navy from the Merchant Navy

Both the Indian Navy and Merchant Navy have different objectives, authority structures, operational areas, vessel types, and career pathways. Here are some key distinctions between the Indian Navy and Merchant Navy:

Purpose and Objective:

Navy: The Indian Navy is a branch of the Indian Armed Forces responsible for protecting national interests at sea, safeguarding maritime borders, and protecting national defence.

Merchant Navy: Alternatively, the Merchant Navy is a fleet of commercial ships that travel across national and international waters to transport goods and passengers. Global trade and commerce are its primary objectives.

Chain of command and authority:

Military discipline and regulations govern officers and sailors in the Indian Navy, which operates under the Ministry of Defence.

International maritime regulations and company policies govern the Merchant Navy, which operates under civilian authority. In general, command structures follow a hierarchical system based on the ranks and responsibilities of the crew members.


Among its functions, the Indian Navy conducts military exercises, participates in peacekeeping missions, and protects India’s maritime interests.

Maritime vessels transport cargo and passengers between ports and countries throughout the world. As a commercial organization, it primarily facilitates international trade and commercial activities.

Vessel Types:

For defence and combat, the Indian Navy operates a wide variety of warships, submarines, aircraft carriers, and other specialized naval vessels.

A merchant vessel is any of a variety of commercial vessels, including cargo ships, container ships, bulk carriers, tankers, cruise ships, and support vessels for offshore operations. Both goods and passengers can be transported efficiently on these vessels.

Nature of Service and Career Paths:

There are many opportunities for promotion, training, and long-term service in the Indian Navy, which is a full-time commitment.

Merchant Navy: The Merchant Navy offers both permanent and contract positions. Navigating, engineering, catering, and support services are some of the departments that offer career paths. It is possible to make a long-term career out of seafaring or alternate between periods of sea service and shore-based employment.

Courses to Join Merchant Navy After 10th:

For 10th pass candidates, there are limited direct entry options available to join the Merchant Navy. However, there are a few courses that can be pursued after 10th grade:

Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS):

DNS is a 1-year diploma program that can be pursued after 10th grade. It provides foundational knowledge in subjects like navigation, seamanship, and maritime operations.

Diploma in Marine Engineering:

After completing 10th grade, you can enroll in a Diploma in Marine Engineering program. This course provides training in marine engineering concepts, including basic mechanical and electrical engineering, ship construction, and maintenance.

Pre-Sea Training for Ratings:

Some maritime institutes offer pre-sea training programs for ratings, such as deck or engine room ratings. These programs provide basic training in seamanship, safety procedures, and ship maintenance.

GP Rating Course:

General Purpose Rating (GP Rating) is a course specifically designed for 10th pass candidates to join the Merchant Navy. This course covers various aspects of deck and engine department operations, safety procedures, and basic navigation.

Courses to Join Merchant Navy After 12th:

After completing 12th grade, there are several courses and pathways available for candidates to join the Merchant Navy. Here are some options for 12th pass candidates:

Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Engineering:

Candidates can pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Engineering, which is a 4-year undergraduate program. This course provides in-depth knowledge of marine systems, ship construction, and marine operations.

Bachelor’s Degree in Nautical Science:

Another option is to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Nautical Science, which is a 3-year program. This course focuses on navigation, ship handling, and maritime operations.

Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS):

DNS is a 1-year diploma course that can be pursued after 12th grade. It covers subjects like navigation, seamanship, and ship operations.

Maritime Training Institutes:

Candidates can also join maritime training institutes that offer various courses for 12th pass candidates. These courses provide practical training and certifications required to work onboard ships as deck officers or marine engineers.

To join the Merchant Navy after 12th grade, candidates also need to fulfill certain eligibility criteria, such as age limits, medical fitness, and eyesight requirements. Additionally, they may need to appear for entrance exams conducted by maritime institutes or undergo selection interviews. It’s important to research and choose reputed institutes that are approved by the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) or other relevant maritime authorities.

List of Institutes/University Offers Merchant Navy Courses in India:

Here is a list of institutes and universities in India that offer Merchant Navy courses along with their locations:

  1. Indian Maritime University (IMU):– Multiple campuses in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, and Cochin.
  2. Tolani Maritime Institute (TMI):- Pune, Maharashtra.
  3. International Maritime Institute (IMI) – Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
  4. Academy of Maritime Education and Training (AMET) – Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
  5. Marine Engineering and Research Institute (MERI) – Kolkata, West Bengal, and Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  6. Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies (SIMS) – Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  7. Indian Maritime University – National Maritime Academy (IMU-NMA) – Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
  8. Coimbatore Marine College (CMC) – Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
  9. Southern Academy of Maritime Studies (SAMS) – Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
  10. Institute of Maritime Studies (IMS) – Mumbai, Maharashtra.


It is worth considering a career in the Merchant Navy if you are interested in exciting opportunities as well as a global perspective. An exciting career in the Merchant Navy gives you the chance to experience adventure, grow professionally, and contribute to global trade and commerce. The Merchant Navy may be the right career choice for you if you enjoy the sea, have a sense of adventure, and seek a challenging and rewarding career. Discover a rewarding and successful career in the Merchant Navy by embarking on this remarkable journey.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What are the steps to join the Merchant Navy?

Ans: There are maritime academies and shipping companies that accept applications for the Merchant Navy.

2. What is the merchant navy?

Ans: Ships engaged in international trade and passenger transportation comprise the merchant navy.

3. What is the procedure for joining the merchant navy after the 12th?

Ans: When you reach the 12th year, you can apply to maritime academies and take relevant diplomas or degrees, pass entrance exams, get a medical fitness assessment, go through pre-sea training, earn certifications, find a job with a shipping company, or become a cadet for onboard training.

4. What is the process of becoming a merchant navy officer?

Ans: Merchant Navy officers must complete relevant maritime education and training, including a degree or diploma program, certification, medical fitness requirements, onboard training, and passing exams conducted by maritime authorities to earn the necessary licenses and ranks at the officer level.

5. What is the process of becoming a merchant navy officer?

Ans: You can apply to become a Merchant Navy member by pursuing diploma or degree courses in maritime studies, passing entrance exams, undergoing medical exams, completing pre-sea training programs, obtaining necessary certifications, and applying for shipping company jobs or onboard training opportunities as a cadet.

6. Are merchant navy jobs government jobs?

Ans: No, the Merchant Navy is not a government job. This is a private sector career. To ensure safety and adherence to standards, international maritime organizations and national maritime authorities regulate it.

7. Do commerce students have the option of joining the merchant navy?

Ans: You can join the Merchant Navy if you are a commerce student. Despite the majority of positions in the Merchant Navy requiring a technical background, commerce students have opportunities in logistical, shipping management, and maritime law fields.

8. What is the process for joining the merchant navy after graduation?

Ans: If you want to join the Merchant Navy after graduating, you can enroll in post-graduate maritime studies courses or pursue specialized courses like shipping management or logistics. Moreover, you can enroll in pre-sea training and obtain certifications, as well as apply for jobs at shipping companies or onboard training programs.

9. How much does the merchant navy make?

Ans: A merchant mariner’s salary is affected by factors such as rank, experience, type of vessel, and employer. Starting salaries for entry-level positions, like deck cadets and engineering cadets, range from $500 to $1,000 per month, while salaries for high-ranking officers range from $4,000 to $10,000.

10. Where can I apply for a merchant navy position?

Ans: Start by researching and selecting a maritime academy or institute that offers courses relevant to the Merchant Navy. You must then submit the required documents, pass the entrance test, and undergo a medical fitness assessment to complete the application process for your chosen course.

11. Which exam we have to crack for Merchant Navy?

Ans: IMU-CET (Indian Maritime University Common Entrance Test)

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