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  • Hello All!

    Hello all,

    (I hope this is posted in the right place!)

    I am wanting to change my career. I've become very bored and frustrated with the office day-to-day and I have always been interested in a career at sea. I've been trying to get onto the oil and gas platforms for a few years now, with no luck thus far (no experience and all that), and over the last few months have started looking at getting into the Merchant Navy. The route I am wanting to take is to do the Navigation Deck Officer Training Course / Marine Engineering Course - or something along those lines at college. I have been speaking to my local college (South Tyneside College) and also to a number of shipping companies about the best option for me. My hesitation about it is that I am 27, and there are 3 years at college before I'd be qualified, and only some of the shipping companies that would sponsor me through the college course can guarantee a job at the end of it. As well as that, there isn't a huge amount of money available during the course to support myself. It's a large pay cut to take considering I am in full time employment at the moment. But it's something I'd happily do if there was a career at the end of it.

    At my age, I need to make a career out of it. So I am wondering if there are people reading this who've been there, done it and would recommend it? Or perhaps anyone who could recommend alternate / quicker ways of starting a career at sea? I'm also wanting to get some real insight into what life is like at sea, there's so much online about it, but I question the authenticity.

    One of the things I am hesitant about is the mathematics involved in both the Navigation and the Engineering courses. I got a C at GCSE, I have a degree, but it isn't marine specific or transferable. Because I am not overly confident in maths, I am wondering if anyone could provide insight into how difficult the maths is? I looked into it as the courses not being overly academically challenging, because the entry requirements for both are 5 GCSEs at C or above. The sponsor companies (bar the RFA) have re-iterated this as well.

    Any useful advice would be appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Sygnus

  • #2
    First of all welcome to the forum, hope you find it useful.

    - age shouldn't be an issue to an employer, in fact many are starting to realise the huge benefits of employing older cadets.

    - There certainly is a career to be made at sea and qualifying at 30 should leave you in a position to be master / chief engineer by around 45.

    - I would think carefully about which route you want to go down (deck or engineering) before you start applying, it won't look good to go to companies not sure of where you want to go, but by all means speak to companies before beginning your application process.

    - Finances can be tough during the cadetship especially if you already have financial commitments such as a mortgage. Most cadets live in either student accommodation or shared rented accommodation so if that is not something that you would be in a position to do then you need to look at either saving before you start or arranging finance through loans from a bank or similar.

    - There is a significant amount of maths at around A-level standard involved in both courses, the colleges are geared up to help people, however, retaking your maths GCSE would help bring you back up to speed and would show companies that you are committed to your choice of career change.

    Hope this helps.
    Go out, do stuff

    Comment


    • #3
      Welcome!

      I started the course aged 26 (and 9 months) and qualified at 29 (and 8 months) so your age shouldn't be a problem, I actually used it in my applications saying something like: I realise that I am older than your typical candidate, this just means I'm totally certain about wanting to do this and have the maturity to get on with it properly... something like that anyway!

      Make sure you do lots of research, and have good solid reasons for picking either deck or engine. I can't speak for any other web resources but my blog (which covers the whole of my cadetship) and flickr (links in my signature) are 100% authentic!!

      You will get help with the maths at college, Clanky's suggestion about re-taking your GCSE is good for 2 reasons though, a) shows companies you''re dedicated, and b)gives you a head start on the college maths

      Best of luck! S4

      Size4riggerboots

      Moderator
      Blog tWitterings Flickr Tumblr Faceache

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Clanky View Post
        First of all welcome to the forum, hope you find it useful.

        - age shouldn't be an issue to an employer, in fact many are starting to realise the huge benefits of employing older cadets.

        - There certainly is a career to be made at sea and qualifying at 30 should leave you in a position to be master / chief engineer by around 45.

        - I would think carefully about which route you want to go down (deck or engineering) before you start applying, it won't look good to go to companies not sure of where you want to go, but by all means speak to companies before beginning your application process.

        - Finances can be tough during the cadetship especially if you already have financial commitments such as a mortgage. Most cadets live in either student accommodation or shared rented accommodation so if that is not something that you would be in a position to do then you need to look at either saving before you start or arranging finance through loans from a bank or similar.

        - There is a significant amount of maths at around A-level standard involved in both courses, the colleges are geared up to help people, however, retaking your maths GCSE would help bring you back up to speed and would show companies that you are committed to your choice of career change.

        Hope this helps.
        Thanks for the welcome and the information!

        It's something I have wanted to do for a long time now, but of course there are uncertainties about it as well. My age was the least of my worries really, I just wanted to clarify the likelihood of getting a job at the end of it. Navigation is the area I am interested in, but I am also thinking that Engineering is a safer option, should the merchant navy not work out for whatever reason that could be. Do you happen to know if the maths is easier in one or the other courses? I find it strange that they'd ask for a C at GCSE, but expect you to be able to cope with A-Level maths. That's the area I am most concerned about. I have spoken to some of the companies and to the college, to try and get some examples of the course material, but the shipping companies couldn't provide any, and the college has been less than helpful in responding to my emails.

        I'm hoping whichever company I got sponsored through would see sense and send me to South Tyneside College, but that'd probably be too convenient.

        How much time have you spent at sea? What are the best and worst bits about it?

        Thanks.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by size4riggerboots View Post
          Welcome!

          I started the course aged 26 (and 9 months) and qualified at 29 (and 8 months) so your age shouldn't be a problem, I actually used it in my applications saying something like: I realise that I am older than your typical candidate, this just means I'm totally certain about wanting to do this and have the maturity to get on with it properly... something like that anyway!

          Make sure you do lots of research, and have good solid reasons for picking either deck or engine. I can't speak for any other web resources but my blog (which covers the whole of my cadetship) and flickr (links in my signature) are 100% authentic!!

          You will get help with the maths at college, Clanky's suggestion about re-taking your GCSE is good for 2 reasons though, a) shows companies you''re dedicated, and b)gives you a head start on the college maths

          Best of luck! S4
          Yeah, I was going to say "I'm old enough not to go out partying every night because I've been there, done that." And "I've worked for some years, I know what I want to do and what I do not want to do, and am prepared to work hard to ensure I am able to do what I want" - that sort of thing.

          The area I am interested in is Navigation, when I attended the open day and was stood in the deck simulation room, it was brilliant. And that was just a small room with some TV monitors in it. Celestial Navigation, whilst it may not be so prominent these days, is certainly something I'd be interested in. I'm already an avid star-gazer, got the telescope and everything . The only reason I am considering engineering is because I think it'd be a safer fall-back option should the merchant navy career not work out, for whatever reason (obviously, I hope it would work out).

          I've been out of education a fair while now, I have a BA Honours degree to my name, but non of it is really transferable to either of the courses. But when I showed the sponsor companies my CV, at the shipping open day at STC and through emails afterwards (I haven't applied yet btw, I want to be sure before I do so, as you have said, doing my research at the moment) they all said I should be ok coping with the course, and said they'd put me in for the foundation degree. They of course left which path I chose open. How would I go about re-sitting my GCSE maths? I'm not overly keen on it, but I think it'd be an eye opener if nothing else!

          I shall certainly give your blog and Flickr a read. Thanks for the info!

          Cheers,
          Syg

          Comment


          • #6
            I am also wondering if anyone has any experience with any of these companies: Carnival, Princess, Maersk, PNTL and RFA. What they're like to work for etc?

            Thanks,
            Syg

            Comment


            • #7
              Hello Syg, good to see you took the advice on RumRation - you'll find the wider MN community is on here whereas it's just RFA on RumRation. I'm at Fleetwood Nautical College in phase one and have met many cadets in phase three, there are plenty of cadets in their mid-twenties, many already have degrees. You would not be unique as a cadet.
              'Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans'

              Comment


              • #8
                Hiya.

                I work for Maersk at the moment and they are fairly good. The oldest guy in my class was 30 when he started with Maersk so you'll be all good. They will put you through the HND course which a lot of employers don't, and are generally an all round good company to work for. They don't pay the best or the worst, they are pretty middle of the road as wages go but the wages are liveable if your sensible and stay off the drink Any questions, feel free to ask away

                Comment


                • #9
                  The best way to get a job at the end of the cadetship is to start with a company that will give you one - Carnival UK employ everyone (pretty much) at the end of their Cadetship and this is something you would need to bring up with any potential sponsors. The best thing to do is to apply to as many companies as possible and then if you get several offers you will be in a position to choose the company which matches your requirements.

                  Carnival and Princess are pretty much run the same way - there are more Italians in Princess though, so generally I would choose CUK over princess if the option came up.

                  Generally I would recommend a career at sea, one issue with going as a cadet in your late twenties is that you may come across some officers, younger than you who are on a power trip, I have seen this problem on passenger ships, but so long as you are prepared for that type of thing you won't any problems not faced by all seafarers.

                  There is quite a lot of salary information out there - Third officers these days are on mid - high twenties tax free and the sky is the limit after that depending on which sector you go into.

                  As Clanky has said, career progression can be fairly rapid - you won't make Captain in 15 years on a big passenger ship (not these days anyway), but in the supply side or some cargo companies (probably not containers) you can progress at that speed.

                  There is no 'quick fix' to a career as a Deck Officer with unlimited certification, of course you can go to sea in any number of capacities like in the hotel department of a cruise ship, but the money is crap, the contracts are long and the terms and conditions are fairly miserable as well. If you are going to do it, bite the bullet and do it properly!

                  If I was starting out now, I would try and get into the oil / gas or offshore sector, but having said that I had lots of fun as a junior officer on cruise ships....
                  Cruise ship Captain with experience on-board Passenger Vessels ranging from 5500-150000 GRT.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sygnus View Post
                    I find it strange that they'd ask for a C at GCSE, but expect you to be able to cope with A-Level maths. That's the area I am most concerned about. I have spoken to some of the companies and to the college, to try and get some examples of the course material, but the shipping companies couldn't provide any, and the college has been less than helpful in responding to my emails.

                    I'm hoping whichever company I got sponsored through would see sense and send me to South Tyneside College, but that'd probably be too convenient.
                    Most of the maths is not A-level, as long as you can transpose formulae, calculate areas and volumes and deal with trigonometry, you'll be fine on the deckies course.

                    If you're older and have a house near Tyneside then you have a good chance of making a case to your sponsor company to send you there.

                    Size4riggerboots

                    Moderator
                    Blog tWitterings Flickr Tumblr Faceache

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Blondie View Post
                      Hello Syg, good to see you took the advice on RumRation - you'll find the wider MN community is on here whereas it's just RFA on RumRation. I'm at Fleetwood Nautical College in phase one and have met many cadets in phase three, there are plenty of cadets in their mid-twenties, many already have degrees. You would not be unique as a cadet.
                      Hello, I'm assuming you're Bluebird? Twas a good piece of advice to come here, why the RFA person didn't recommend this is beyond me. I didn't think I'd be unique and of course, I was certainly hoping not to be either, so I'm glad! I don't suppose you see any of the PNTL sponsored guys in your classes, do you? They were very helpful at the Shipping Day, emailed them since but have had very little back from them. A tad disappointing considering how keen they were at the event.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Martyboy View Post
                        Hiya.

                        I work for Maersk at the moment and they are fairly good. The oldest guy in my class was 30 when he started with Maersk so you'll be all good. They will put you through the HND course which a lot of employers don't, and are generally an all round good company to work for. They don't pay the best or the worst, they are pretty middle of the road as wages go but the wages are liveable if your sensible and stay off the drink Any questions, feel free to ask away
                        Hello and thank you. Maersk had already filled their allocation of sponsors for this year, but were taking on for next year. They were initially the company I was most keen on, because they were the most reputable and perhaps the "biggest". I don't drink, so no worries of that . Cheers.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by HolyNougat View Post
                          The best way to get a job at the end of the cadetship is to start with a company that will give you one - Carnival UK employ everyone (pretty much) at the end of their Cadetship and this is something you would need to bring up with any potential sponsors. The best thing to do is to apply to as many companies as possible and then if you get several offers you will be in a position to choose the company which matches your requirements.

                          Carnival and Princess are pretty much run the same way - there are more Italians in Princess though, so generally I would choose CUK over princess if the option came up.

                          Generally I would recommend a career at sea, one issue with going as a cadet in your late twenties is that you may come across some officers, younger than you who are on a power trip, I have seen this problem on passenger ships, but so long as you are prepared for that type of thing you won't any problems not faced by all seafarers.

                          There is quite a lot of salary information out there - Third officers these days are on mid - high twenties tax free and the sky is the limit after that depending on which sector you go into.

                          As Clanky has said, career progression can be fairly rapid - you won't make Captain in 15 years on a big passenger ship (not these days anyway), but in the supply side or some cargo companies (probably not containers) you can progress at that speed.

                          There is no 'quick fix' to a career as a Deck Officer with unlimited certification, of course you can go to sea in any number of capacities like in the hotel department of a cruise ship, but the money is crap, the contracts are long and the terms and conditions are fairly miserable as well. If you are going to do it, bite the bullet and do it properly!

                          If I was starting out now, I would try and get into the oil / gas or offshore sector, but having said that I had lots of fun as a junior officer on cruise ships....
                          Thanks for the info. The only way to get onto these courses is to get sponsored first, so I'm talking with some of the companies now to get a better insight, but I shall apply to pretty much everyone. The Carnival chap I've been emailing has been very helpful as well, so I am more encouraged by them than by Princess. I'd not turn either down though.

                          Ah ok, power tripping youngsters, I can handle. But thanks for the heads up. If I may ask, do you have any personal high or low points that you wouldn't mind sharing?

                          I have actually been trying to get onto the oil and gas platforms for a few years now, but I'm stuck in the Catch-22 of not having experience, therefore I cannot get work to get experience. It's incredibly frustrating. But going down the college course route, you get that experience whilst you're learning, so that sets you in better stead. If I could get onto an oil support vessel, or something along those lines, I'd be very happy.

                          Thanks,
                          Syg

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by size4riggerboots View Post
                            Most of the maths is not A-level, as long as you can transpose formulae, calculate areas and volumes and deal with trigonometry, you'll be fine on the deckies course.

                            If you're older and have a house near Tyneside then you have a good chance of making a case to your sponsor company to send you there.
                            :O mind blown. Jokes of course. I struggled with formulae at school, areas and volumes I was canny with. You've eased my concerns somewhat with that answer though, what the bulk of the maths involves etc.

                            I hope they'd see sense, although I wouldn't grumble about relocating, but it would be a lot easier and far more cost effective to stay at Tyneside. The same question I posed to HolyNougat - if you have any personal highs/lows, I'd love to read them!

                            Thanks for the advice!

                            P.s. - your friend, Fred, is mightily distracting!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Syg- I am indeed Bluebird. I use both forums and between them I've found the answer to every question I've ever had about cadetships & the RFA.

                              I don't think I have seen any PNTL cadets but I'll keep an eye out. In all honesty by knowledge of shopping companies is weak because I only ever wanted to join the RFA and didn't research anything else. Clearly since starting at Fleetwood by knowledge has increased!
                              'Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans'

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