Career at Sea Checklists: Things You Need to Know

by | Last updated Nov 24, 2023 | Career Guide | 0 comments

Since the boom of the seafaring industry, many young teenagers are now considering a career at sea. A seaman’s lifestyle shown in social media draws their attention to it.

For others, it’s a dream. To a few, it’s a family tradition. But for some, a career at sea is their way to alleviate their life from poverty.

Whatever reason drives you to pursue this path, that same reason will be needed during your hardest times on board.

7 Things You Need to Know Before Taking a Career at Sea

So before jumping on the wagon and joining the crew, take these seven tips and ponder them at heart. It will save you (and your parents) tons of heartaches and frustrations.

1. Unforgiving Seas

“A calm sea never makes a great sailor,” goes the age-old saying. When Mother Nature throws her tantrums, She doesn’t care whether you are a small ship or a big one, or what kind of nationality you are. She whips everything that comes in her path sometimes for weeks.

Eating, walking, and sleeping is a great challenge for the crew. Imagine yourself riding a roller coaster except that you are not strapped to your seat.

You must be ready to accept this if you plan on getting a career at sea. But know this, ships are built for the worst weather. The question is, “Are you?”

Fishing boat dancing on the rough sea.
Fishing boat on a rough sea.

2. Loneliness and Boredom

Taking a career at sea exposes you to lots of loneliness and boredom. Not all ships have internet. And not all ships with the internet have strong connections.

When you are in the middle of the Pacific for one month and all you see is vast water and the faces of your 20 crewmates, boredom might creep into your mind and destroy your sanity.

There are cadets who underestimated this when enrolling in a maritime school and they pay a price for it after the going gets tough.

Are you emotionally and mentally prepared if you receive bad news from home during the time when your ship is about to sail 30 days until the next port and you miss your family so much?

3. Politics On Board

Politics exists onboard and sometimes, it’s worse than the weather. This is a reality in your career at sea.

There are people out there who love talking behind your back and destroying your name because you did something (not necessarily heroic) that jacks up your career.

But even if you never do anything, some people always have something to say against you when you are not around. Yes, they exist. So, are you gonna be the victim or the bully? Be neither. It doesn’t help you get any better.

The best thing to do when confronted with these types of people is to do your jobs effectively and safely.

4. Trust Issues

Remember that your work will take you far away from home. In taking a career at sea, you will be earning lots of money but you will be far from people important to you.

You will be separated from your wife, husband, or lover not just for a week but sometimes for nine to twelve months. It’s a test of loyalty.

When you see pictures of your better half hanging with her friends and there’s that same person beside him or her again, are you ready not to freak out in the middle of the sea?

There are true stories similar to this that destroyed seafarers. Some cadets even went crazy over this situation.

Will it break you, or will it make you?

Communicating your loved ones half a world away

5. Everyday Monday

Having a career at sea means you have to work all throughout your contract. If you think working at sea is just looking at the ocean and going out for a shore leave as what you always see on social media, then get ready to be shocked.

Duty may call you any time of the day or night including midnights. It doesn’t matter if you have enough rest especially if the job is to be finished ASAP. Don’t expect a white-collar job on board. There are times you won’t have sleep for two days.

6. Occupational Hazards

Safety is paramount. But even if everyone diligently follows safety rules, it doesn’t mean that accidents and disasters won’t happen. Accidents could happen anytime to anybody without any warning.

What would you do if your ship caught fire in the middle of the Pacific? Will you be prepared for the worst-case scenario when you have to abandon the ship during nighttime in freezing temperatures over a rough sea?

Contemplate this before deciding to have a career at sea.

A band of armed pirates riding on a wooden speedboat.

7. Hostage, Hijacks, and Piracy

This might be the hottest issue in the Maritime Industry for years now. Piracy may be declining but it doesn’t mean they are totally getting off the hook. Maybe they’re just waiting for opportunities.

There are still reports coming out about ships being hijacked and the crew being held hostage. Now this might look a one in a one-in-a-million chance that you can be one of those hostages but since you are a seaman, the chance is never zero.

The question is, are you and your family ready? What will you do if faced with such circumstances? Will this news still convince you to choose a career at sea?

Piece of Advice

When the going gets tough on board, your deepest “Why” will be your best weapon to hold on to. All of those challenges are part of the package in taking this profession. Every seafarer who has been sailing for quite some time knows this as I myself do.

It’s not easy to be a seaman. For first-timers, there will be moments when you will ask yourself if this profession is really the right one for you. You will imagine things that you should have done instead of taking a career at sea.

But if your “Why” in choosing a career at sea is strong, deep, and grounded, you will stay on course no matter what.

May the winds be in your favor.



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