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Negativity surrounding the MN, Career path dilemma

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  • Negativity surrounding the MN, Career path dilemma

    Greetings fellow sea-monkeys!

    To make this short and sweet, I've been offered sponsorship's for next September from some well established companies (for the sake of this, we shall call one of them "chell"). I'm currently studying a foundation year at Plymouth university and now have the dilemma of what to do, as I could continue with my studies or join the MN. Which brings me to my other point, the negativity on MN forums is crazy! I had my heart set on becoming a deck officer for quite a while, and by just looking at the number of people saying (not specifically from this site) how there are no jobs out there, the pay is terrible, no paid leave, you don't really get to see much during your travels, its stressful etc. The list goes on really. I fancied the idea of not having a massive student debt, potential job and to travel the world and only work for half the year... plus the fact that I love being at sea.

    I've got a number of close friends and relatives in both the RN and MN, all who speak highly of their jobs; so why is it I feel like its not all its cracked up to be?

    What I'm looking for here is advice; can anyone that can speak highly of their career choice and the lifestyle its given you? What is the typical pay and work hours for offshore work?
    What do you do with your time off? As I understand, many MN officers only work for half the year (or so its claimed). Are you able to survive off your salary? Is this an industry where working for the "top companies" is amazing, and working for the smaller ones is tougher and not so rewarding?

    Would be great to hear what the life is like from people that aren't so depressive.

    Oh, and are there any pro's and con's between deck and engineer? I hear there are more jobs out there for engineers..



  • #2
    I will speak nothing but highly of my job! Doing a cadet ship was the best decision I ever could have made, whilst a lot of people I went to school with have done well I now live in a beautiful place, get paid a salary rarely seen outside CEO or City banker world and do a job I love!

    Most officers get paid a pretty good salary, have plenty of time off and if you really want a job you will get one (some may need assistance with the CV and interview process as it's not their forte)

    Most companies are much of a muchness in the grand scheme of things, if you work for an oil company you can't go wrong and even some of the smaller companies are just as well run.

    I'm not being funny but I haven't seen much negativity (especially on here) just sensible discussions and issues that can be found in any workplace.

    As for deck v engine only you can decide if your practical and like fixing things or enjoy sipping cups of coffee looking out the window!
    Pilotage - It's just a controlled allision


    • #3
      Why not contact the department at Plymouth University which runs the Deck Officer Cadet courses for FdSc and BSc (Hons) Navigation and Marine Science. The staff have a wealth of experience working in the Merchant Navy and the cadets can share their feelings and experience to date. Their new training facilities were only opened last year including the latest full bridge simulator technology. All this is on your doorstep.


      • #4
        Not much negativity on this site, defiantly the reason that I asked such questions here. Others which I shan't name have had officers literally boycott joining! But like you said, issues can be found in any workplace, I guess that lot found them all.

        Mind if I ask what type of company you work for Chris? How you ended up going down that route etc? You've said pretty similar things to what I've heard from a good friend, he's currently on a cable laying ship in the Caribbean

        And that's what I'm in the process of doing Salt, unfortunately there aren't many sponsoring companies that send their cadets to Plymouth. But yes, they are helping me choose the right path. I've actually had a go on the simulator already, it sure does throw you around a lot!


        • #5
          Originally posted by teajay View Post
          Not much negativity on this site, defiantly the reason that I asked such questions here. Others which I shan't name have had officers literally boycott joining!
          Boycott us? Why?

 I can understand.....
          I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

          All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.


          • #6
            although I've yet to experience finding a job, I think you have to bear in mind that you won't really read about many people moaning that they found a job within ten minutes. Also, people with jobs tend to have less time to spend on the internet so with those two factors combined you're bound to get a skewed perspective on a lot of forums. Having said that I might be struggling for a job in about 3 years... I hope not


            • #7
              3've yet to join your first ship............*mutter*

              GM I think he means other forma being boycotted not this one, well thats my reading of it.

              As for the has it's ups and downs, it gives me a nice life style, I work 6 months/ year get paid for 12, there are things I would change, theer are some I could change if I didnt have a huge amount of inertia and changed companies. The wages here are....average, the conditions better than most lower than others, we have internet (if thats your thing), MLC 2006 "should" help level out some of the rough / smooth but for an EU officer going with "good" companies alot of the horror wont happen to you.....or it shouldnt and if it does, walk away try somewhere else.

              On average this is a good lifestyle....but thats what it is, it is so much more than just a job / career, it is as much a life style choice as a Vicar / monk / nun / vegan etc etc
              Trust me I'm a Chief.

              Views expressed by me are mine and mine alone.
              Yes I work for the big blue canoe company.
              No I do not report things from here to them as they are quite able to come and read this stuff for themselves.

              Twitter:- @DeeChief


              • #8
                As I've posted previously on the forum, I made a career change from finance and Im quite happy working as a junior ETO for an oil company, although Im too new in my role too answer all your questions.

                The ship I'm on has blacked out twice in 2 months and thats stressful (wasn't my fault by the way), but most of my work is preplanned and uneventful.

                In terms of lifestyle, I no longer need to live in commuting distance of London, so I get to choose to live somewhere nice and I'm looking forward to 4 months or more holiday a year compared to the 5 weeks I used to get, although not such a big difference if you count weekends as holiday.

                Salary wise I'm earning a bit less than I used to but with more usable holiday, I will break through my old salary level by quite a lot when I get promoted to full ETO.
                Former TH cadet with experience of cruise ships, buoy tenders, research ships and oil tankers


                • #9
                  I think that maybe a couple of "negative" threads - for want of a better word - recently may have skewed your perspective here a little. For an example, if you go to any website you will find negative comments from people on the site. Maybe because things were wrong, damaged, late delivery - whatever. However, those that are totally satisfied usually do not post.

                  It is the same here, people post here to ask questions, sometimes a bit of a moan, and sometimes with serious issues that they need help with. You rarely hear from those who are having a great time! - with some exceptions.

                  Take my son for example - joined here before he applied and asked a few questions. Joined Maersk last year on the FD course and is as happy as a pig in the proverbial. I know he is a bit of a communications black hole, but if he had any concerns he would be back on here asking questions.

                  It is very easy to read some threads on here and think that they are an average slice across the entire industry - it is not.

                  There are a large number of cadets that start each year - some work for companies that take them on at the end of their cadetship and some that don't. Some struggle to find a job once qualified (for many different reasons) and others don't. The pay and conditions do vary, and it is your responsibility to check the small print when you change job. However, in general, the pay and conditions once qualified are a huge difference to cadet salaries.

                  You have to look at this as a lifestyle choice as Chiefy said - time and time again! LOL. You work away, traveling around the world, you get a sponsor to pay for your training and get a wage as well, you get better leave (with the right company) than most, and salaries for newly qualified officers start at between ?23k and ?28K (tax free in many cases).

                  Of course there are some downsides, being away for Xmas and birthdays, sometimes being the only brit on board, sometimes having a Captain or a C/E who seems crazy, etc.etc. But in general the only thing you have to do is wait 3 months and it all changes.

                  I was only at sea until I became a 2nd Officer, before I came ashore and started my first business. 26 years later and I am here helping people join and working as an Ambassador in schools. It gave me a great start in life, and many skills and experiences which nobody else even comes close to.

                  Regret joining? - NEVER.

                  Regret leaving? - very rarely, but not enough to go and redo my orals and go away again!

                  Would I do one last trip for the experience? - In a shot, for the ability to see the differences in the life now and then.

                  It is not for everyone - which is why so many do leave, but for those that it suits it is a GREAT lifestyle.

                  "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
                  "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

                  "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.


                  • #10
                    I've been lucky and have had excellent support from my company throughout, and excellent training on board. I said as much when I was interviewed for the Nautilus Telegraph a few months back because I think it's important that the positives get an airing once in a while. Too much of what's published in the Telegraph is of the doom and gloom variety, and that's because, as with anything, people are much more willing to talk about the bad than the good.

                    Yes, I accept that my experiences haven't been shared by some cadets, and that some have been treated poorly on board and even by their companies. I also accept that many do not have jobs lined up after their cadetship and that the stress of finding a job at the end of the cadetship is one that many aren't prepared for.

                    Any way you slice it, you get a higher education qualification and a professional certificate without paying a penny. That alone, in my opinion, is the biggest positive there is. Finding a job in this industry is as much a matter of who you know as anything else. I wonder if the people who are searching for jobs have taken advantage of the free membership of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners? This is an excellent and undersubscribed scheme that will put you in touch with the top of the industry, with a mentor who will know people. Have you formed a good rapport with your company? Have you spoken to the agencies by phone instead of an impersonal email? Have you joined the Nautical Institute and attended some of their excellent events, with networking opportunities? To put it bluntly, what have you done to give yourself the best possible advantage?

                    There are jobs out there. Carnival has recruited a huge number of newly qualified officers recently and look set to do so again in the coming weeks. While people may turn up their noses at "settling" for cruise ships, a stamp is a stamp.

                    The industry has given you an education for free, the industry does not then owe you a job. You need to go and work for that. I know this will be controversial, but controversy makes the best forum threads!
                    Hello! I'm Chris. I'm away a lot so I'm sorry if it takes me a while to reply to messages, but I promise I'll get back to everyone. If it's urgent, please email me directly at [email protected].

                    Need books, Flip Cards or chartwork instruments? Visit!


                    • #11
                      I can't comment about the job, but not finding a job after finishing a degree course is not uncommon, 9% don't, and even those that do, not all are in the careers relevant to their degree.
                      Also you are not leaving with ?27,000 debt, had to pay your accommodation, and living expenses, and most likely had to find a part time job too.
                      Not many students will have managed to travel thousands of miles whilst they were learning either.
                      So if you were to look at other careers what prospects would there be at the end? A defininate job? Maybe if you want to be a doctor, just the 12 GCSE's at A* and 4 A levels at A /A* to start 6 years study.
                      No one owes you a job, I understand some sponsors do employ at the end but if a person doesn't work well I doubt they will choose that person above someone who does if they have a choice.
                      I hope this doesn't seem negative but it made me think what happens if you look at other careers how do they compare with employment prospects so I did a search for some numbers, might help you decide?



                      • #12
                        Honestly I think the negativity comes from the fact not that cadets don't get a job upon qualifying but that when they begin this is the impression they are given and when the reality kicks in, it is a huge let down and quite stressful. Which is why anyone who comes on this forum asking which sponsor, has it screamed at them 'find someone to sponsor you who will probably employ you afterwards'.

                        I also would say for the financial benefits a cadetship has the advantage in the aftermath but as someone with a degree (and the debt) which comes with it a cadetship is a completely different entity to a degree and in many ways they can't be compared, you're a student at uni but you're a cadet when you come into the MN.

                        Would I advise someone to come into this career, yes I love it, I love my job, I love my ship and I love my crew. I get to do some very cool stuff at work, I love manouvering, winch work, messing around on deck, drills, navigation- love it all. I also get paid a decent wage which few of my equally qualified friends make, but okay I miss Christmas, birthdays, weddings etc. The positives far outweigh the negatives for me, but it is a lifestyle, it is a big part of your life and it's not for everyone, it can be stressful and s**t at times or the complete opposite. Sometimes being the sole Brit and the sole women onboard has been tough and again that's something you can't really decide on until you've experienced it.

                        It's a fantastic job but go in with realistic expectations and weigh up the good and bad and how you would fit in. It's not all rosy, it's not all doom and gloom. Also as for the employment side, try and find a company that suits what you want to get out of it- see the world? Don't go for a cadetship on an Isle of Wight Ferry, want a job, try a company who employs UK officers. Yes there are negatives but there are some very strong positives. I really think it has a lot to do with your personality and how that fits into this world.

                        Have you read 'Deep Sea and Foreign Going' by Rose George (I think that's her name), it was a book by a journalist who went onboard a Maersk container ship and a pretty interesting read as well as a pretty impartial insight into life onboard a container ship.


                        • #13
                          I know a lot of people use these forums for information and to ask questions, which is good, but I word like to stress that it must be your decision and from the heart!! As said above it is a lifestyle, not just a job. I know that might be hard to comprehend but it is a series commitment, doing it for the money will really not give you any satisfaction, in my opinion!

                          As for companies, there is a lot of choice out there and it can be daunting where to go and what type of ship etc to go on. When I joined I only found one advert for the Merchant Navy so was glad I got the job. I am not familiar with training companies so cannot comment on the job opportunities afterwards, but I do believe that if you are committed you will find the job you are looking forward too.

                          For sure there is a lot of experience on this forum and lots of people who can give you advice, I hope you come to an honest conclusion and make your own decision.
                          If you can't laugh, you shouldn't have joined!!


                          • #14
                            I love my job. Ok, so some days I have to repeat that to myself as a mantra to remind myself of that fact, but nothings perfect! Having worked a variety of jobs on land (florist, bar tender, sandwich maker, wine shop manager, secretary, call centre monkey....) I can honestly say that there isn't a single regret about leaving land, everyone talks about earning shedloads of money as an officer, but as I'm only a 3rd mate I have yet to see these film star wages. But I'm now earning ?7k more than my highest paid job on land, and I was living comfortably on that wage, even saved up for a three month trip on a tall ship! If you can't live on ?20K a year you're doing it wrong, OK there's not much left over for expensive holidays but it's plenty if you work it right. Anyone who complains about "only" earning ?25k as an officer needs a boot up the backside. I've been qualified for about a year and a half and I now have enough saved up to be able to think about getting a mortgage. (Ok I have one advantage, I live with my folks so am not paying rent...) It's true that the availability of work for newly qualified officers isn't as good as the propaganda would have you think, but: IMHO it's not that the jobs aren't out there, it's more that all the people who are hiring want EXPERIENCED officers, and there's the rub: you can't get experience without a job, but you can't get a job without experience..... Persistence, networking, impressing people as a cadet and being at the right place at the right time all help though.

                            It's not the best job in the world, but there's moments when I think it could be. I can't imagine how rubbish my life would be if I had stayed on land, but I know it would be awful, and I'd have a lot less money in the bank.


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                            • #15
                              Speaking of money, one of my classmates has just been promoted from junior to full eto after two trips, 40k or so, not bad but of course you cant get promoted any higher than that. His next payrise would need a change of ship and employer.
                              Former TH cadet with experience of cruise ships, buoy tenders, research ships and oil tankers