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  • Are you happy with your career choice?

    As an aspiring cadet there's obviously a lot of things to consider when deciding if you want to enter the Merchant Navy. I'm at an age where it's probably going to be a defining career move, and I feel like the most all-encompassing question to ask seafarers that balances all the positives and negatives is the one above: Are you happy with your career choice?

    Putting this in this forum in order to allow respondents to stay anonymous.

  • #2
    No need to stay anonymous for me. Quite frankly the best decision I have made so far in life.

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    • #3
      Personally I'm happy with my career choice. There will be highs and lows most likely throughout a cadetship. If your passionate about navigation or hands on engineering it isn't something that you will most likely regret doing aslong as you can handle the longer trips. I found through my cadetships that the ones that where undergoing a cadetship just for the lucrative salary prospects at the end did not last as they didn't enjoy the work or the longer trips. I entered the industry because I had always had a passion for hands on engineering, I wanted to do something unique and see a little of the world and I haven't necessarily looked back. I have however wondered what my life would have been like if I had underwent a shore based apprenticeship as I started my cadetship at 16 however as you are at the stage where you have tried other things it shouldn't be an issue.
      Phase 5 SPD engine cadet at city of Glasgow college. Doing a a combined motor and steam ticket.

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      • #4
        Although it's a long time since I swallowed the anchor going to sea was the best thing I've ever done and changed my life for the better completely.
        io parlo morse

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        • #5
          To be honest, the money and time off definitely is my main motivation. Not really ashamed of that because it's just the reality of life that it's rare to make a lot of money doing things you really love.

          That said, the financial penalty for dropping out has played on my mind.

          I know it's impossible to know beforehand with certainty that it's the right career choice so I'm hoping these doubts/concerns are natural for prospective cadets.

          Comment


          • #6
            At 24, having qualified at 20, I can safely say I have no regrets. I’ve made silly money and travelled silly amounts in my time off, the job is fun and the career is there for those who want it. I’m very happy knowing that as an engineer, if I needed to come ashore tomorrow, I will be employable by land based engineering firms.

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            • #7
              "Sort of" I guess is the right answer...


              There are plenty of lows and then again, plenty of highs. I have to say I think the training organisations/colleges pull the wool over your eyes a little in the beginning. The reality is;


              - the job situation is poor at best (not impossible, but certainly not the "there is a massive shortage" that most college admissions types will tell you.
              - there ain't many Brits... I had big ideas of ye olde merchant navy, instead I have at worst ended up on ships where every single other member of the crew is from one E.European country and I'm left in the cold - sucks a little but isn't the end of the world.
              - it can be boring... especially as a cadet. I was (i like to think) a quick study and if I'm honest I had learned the material in the TRB quite a bit before the 12 months sea time was up. Now this doesn't mean that the experience wasn't helpful - but I spent a lot of time doing gangway watch for someone who wanted to be a navigator and see the world. However, I am confident I'll get my navigating done eventually!!
              - I didn't see the world!! I have however seen a large number of oil refineries from the middle east to south America. The accents change but the tanks are similar.
              - I found the culture differences on board to be quite a struggle. Different people have different ideas about how things should be done (most importantly your training as a cadet...) and this can be frustrating.




              However,


              - I'm a firm believer that if you work hard and put in the effort as a cadet, this really stands you in good stead with recruiters/training companies and you have every chance of getting a good job and as people have said - a fantastic career.
              - the money is good, much better than your average grad job and more than enough to live comfortably on
              - you do get to meet lots of people. I loved working on MULTINATIONAL ships, ie ~ everyone is different... looking back, I would have researched whether or not the companies I was applying to do this kind of manning.
              - you do get to see cool places. Honestly, working on cargo ships (tankers) it was a little limited but I did get into a good few cities and amazing resorts/beaches all over the world. But not as many as I would have liked. Obviously if you are a Gin Palace sailor, you get all the holiday hotspots you could want
              - I am incredibly grateful to the people that put in the effort to train me and help me with things I struggled with, in a way I think this career has taught me a bit more humility. Even seeing the guys working 9 months and being all smiles.. I don't know how they do it!




              In short, it's a varied career that is very much what you make of it. Gone are the days of sailing round the world getting drunk in the ship bar every night and coming home with a tattoo and some terrible stories... But it is still something that is way way different than any career ashore and that alone made is appealing (and still does) to me.


              You say that your main motivation is the money/leave - it's very common. But very very common with people who do drop out. You are going to have days during your cadetship that you're sitting in your cabin thinking 'why the hell am I doing this' and if the only reason you can give yourself is "maybe in 3 years time I'll have a good salary doing something I don't enjoy" it could be a sticking point...

              I haven't really seen it said here - but consider joining the RNR as a rating. In a year or so you'll be looking at a deployment (optional) and this will give you a chance to see if you enjoy being at sea. However, the RN life isn't really much like the MN...

              Good luck whatever you decided! Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say!

              Comment


              • #8
                I really value these contributions folks so thanks very much, and please do keep them coming.

                To respond to the lengthy post above there. First of all thanks for taking the time to type all that out!

                Let me qualify what I say about money being my main motivation by asking this question: if the starting salary was ?10k lower (around what it would be for a decent entry level shore-based job) would you still do it?

                While I recognize that it's a unique, challenging and interesting line of work I probably wouldn't. It's definitely the salary and the chance of a life without as much economic anxiety that deals the deal for me. Having done a few really crap, poorly paid jobs I do recognize the value of this opportunity, and would hope to be able to maintain the perspective that the cadetship sea time is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

                That said, it is a unique job so it's difficult to predict how you'll react to being in the environment without ever having done it.

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                • #9
                  Of course though, we are the happy(ish) ones. I know many who hate it at sea and jacked it in before or just after they qualified. Some people can’t hack the time away, the banter (can be confused with everyone being nasty to you at first), the food, the graft (if you’re an engineer) and loads of other factors like being away from kids etc...

                  Out of my cadet class of around 20, I’d say only 7-8 of us are still at sea four years on. Some found good jobs from their cadetship training, some got normal shore jobs which you could have got before the cadetship and some branched into better stuff: oil rigs etc.

                  It all depends on the job you get at the end; you may be unhappy doing 3 months onboard Maersk ships, or you may be unhappy doing shift work on the Red Eagle in Southampton. It’s all down to how you will see things, and if you can look past negatives for the positives the job does offer.

                  Oh and contrary to the above: everybody I work with and all of my friends who stuck at sea are money and leave motivated, very few are here “for the job”... that may apply to cadets, but tax free money and time for time leave is popular when qualified

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                  • #10
                    Do I enjoy being at sea? Absolutely! Do I enjoy being jobless and spending 6 months (and counting) trying to find my first contract as an OOW? Nope.
                    Pointy bit is the front, blunt bit is the back... Simples!

                    Will work for money/sea time.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by agibbs98 View Post
                      Of course though, we are the happy(ish) ones. I know many who hate it at sea and jacked it in before or just after they qualified. Some people can’t hack the time away, the banter (can be confused with everyone being nasty to you at first), the food, the graft (if you’re an engineer) and loads of other factors like being away from kids etc...

                      Out of my cadet class of around 20, I’d say only 7-8 of us are still at sea four years on. Some found good jobs from their cadetship training, some got normal shore jobs which you could have got before the cadetship and some branched into better stuff: oil rigs etc.

                      It all depends on the job you get at the end; you may be unhappy doing 3 months onboard Maersk ships, or you may be unhappy doing shift work on the Red Eagle in Southampton. It’s all down to how you will see things, and if you can look past negatives for the positives the job does offer.

                      Oh and contrary to the above: everybody I work with and all of my friends who stuck at sea are money and leave motivated, very few are here “for the job”... that may apply to cadets, but tax free money and time for time leave is popular when qualified
                      Found your stat about only 7/8 of your class still being at sea quite striking. Is that since qualifying that the others have quit seafaring or since the start of the cadetship?

                      I've got an offer from a sponsor which gives me a decent chance of employment afterwards. I'd hope to work for them for a couple of years then maybe look at finding a job with shorter rotations closer to home.

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                      • #12
                        All of us qualified, most of those who quit didn?t even go to sea once they finished their cadetship. Some did one or two deep sea trips and then quit. I wouldn?t say they had particularly bad jobs either, but their personal tastes lied elsewhere - some were Maersk, some were Pritchard Gordon... but I also have friends who still work and are very happy in these companies.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Very happy with my career choice, loved college. My trips and cadet were pretty **** whether that was down to me or the crew I can't really say but I didn't learn much. Work short rotations now but would like to work in bigger vessels if possible but would definitely recommend the career, also we need more Celtic fans - go for it.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by hotnspicy View Post
                            Very happy with my career choice, loved college. My trips and cadet were pretty **** whether that was down to me or the crew I can't really say but I didn't learn much. Work short rotations now but would like to work in bigger vessels if possible but would definitely recommend the career, also we need more Celtic fans - go for it.
                            Hah, didn't expect my username to be picked up on in here.

                            Is it easy to find the short rotation stuff?

                            The possibility of finding land-based work is also appealing to me, and I think someone mentioned that it isn't difficult to find for engineers.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Olivier Ntcham View Post
                              Found your stat about only 7/8 of your class still being at sea quite striking. Is that since qualifying that the others have quit seafaring or since the start of the cadetship?
                              To provide a deck perspective - 70 of us started the cadetship, roughly 45 finished it (might be a touch more). Of those 45, at least 2 are still to pass orals.

                              I remember a lecturer telling us in the first week that "by the time you finish in three years, one third of you will have left, been back-phased or fired... You will have been culled..."

                              Originally posted by Olivier Ntcham View Post
                              Is it easy to find the short rotation stuff?
                              Most harbour/inland jobs are short rotation (1 week on, 1 week off). Offshore tends to be 5 weeks on, 5 off. Deep sea/cruise will likely be 3/4 months on, 2/3 months off until you reach senior officer level.
                              Pointy bit is the front, blunt bit is the back... Simples!

                              Will work for money/sea time.

                              Comment

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