Every profession is different from other. And when it comes to merchant navy, the lifestyle is very different from any other field.
As we know, it is a fleet of merchant vessels which contain seafarers of different ranks to make sea trade and route efficient.
Hence, long voyages, extreme windy weathers, real life challenges etc. are a routine thing for navy officers and the crew.
There are many aspects of the navy lifestyle that one must know if he/she is planning to join merchant navy as a career.
There are many misconceptions about the work environment, salary package and standard of living in merchant navy.
A large number of people don’t have sufficient information regarding this and many others are confused about the answers available to their questions.
People often misunderstand merchant navy with Indian navy. They both are very different from one another.
When merchant Navy is for commercial purpose, Indian navy deals with the defense of the country.
People also assume that jobs in merchant navy posts are government posts but that’s not always true.
It is a civilian job with handsome salary but in some cases like Ships of Directorate General of Shipping that comes under Govt. of India, government job is possible.
But if spoken generally, Merchant navy is not a government job.
Also it is a misconception that sailing is a permanent job but that’s not true because merchant navy jobs involve contract basis employment.
That’s why after contract, the company is not accountable to provide you further employment.
Due to these terms and myths, it is very hard for sea enthusiasts to decide what they should do. Hence let’s list up pros and cons of Merchant navy lifestyle.
Firstly, we’ll talk about the pros of merchant navy lifestyle:
If you love travelling and meeting new cultures, Merchant navy is a golden opportunity to do that and that too without any travel cost.
If you are physically strong, mentally interested, and non-vegetarian and like your own company, this is the best option you have as a career. Loving what you do and doing what you love is something you can truly achieve from Merchant navy.
You can get opportunities to travel the best places of the world and that too for free. Peaceful long journeys and hassle free lifestyle is something that defines Merchant navy lifestyle.
This is another big advantage of merchant navy. High pays from the lowest posts as compared to other field jobs is the main attraction of merchant navy. However, it depends on the country and standard of lifestyle there. Here is the approximation of some high rank officers in merchant navy.
Chief Engineer or captain – $ 8200 – $15500
Chief Officer – $6100 – $11000
Second engineer – $ 6000 – $10900
In most of the jobs related to merchant navy, the salary is for the time you are sailing and for holidays, it is not fixed if you will be paid or not. It depends on your contract and post. Still the salary per annum is quite high.
In merchant navy, your working period is not like normal private or government jobs. It is based on the journey your ship will complete and the time they reach their destination.
These journeys can be of 3 months, 6 months or 8 months depending upon the location and contract and this is the time the sailor has to spend on duty. But after the completion of the journey, a long stretch of holiday that can be of 2 month, 3 month or even more is given to him/her.
This benefit of long holidays is extremely unique and joyful for merchant navy staffs. Therefore, this is another advantage of merchant navy lifestyle which is found very rare.
A status of NRI is allotted to those who sail for 182 days or more away from India. These sailors are officially provided the status of NRI by the Indian government. This status is very advantageous in social reputation and tax benefits.
Tax free salary
This is probably one of the finest benefits of merchant navy lifestyle. Their income which is considered very high is tax free too.
This is because of the NRI status they get after sailing abroad. Their whole salary is tax free but only for the financial year they spent sailing away from India. There are not many jobs that give you this advantage.
Real life challenges
This can be a pro or a con depending upon your interest and perception to see your work. If you love facing challenges that tests your skills and strength then this is a plus point for you working in merchant navy.
This profession involves real life challenges and spectacular trail of twists and turns. The journey is never what is planned. Every day comes with a different weather condition and brings opportunities to you to test your skills and courage.
Those who don’t want a boring 9 to 5 desk jobs can choose merchant navy to have real life experiences.
Free food and lodging
Along with travelling for free, this profession also provides you free boarding and lodging facility. Your whole salary is your saving till you complete your journey.
Some companies even allow your family which includes your wife and kids (not parents) with you on ship but it depends on the company, your post, number of family members of other staff already staying on the ship and capacity of the ship.
There are some areas like HRA area where family members are not allowed due to risk involved and other factors.
Now, let’s talk about the other aspects of merchant navy lifestyle i.e., the cons:
Away from home
Long journeys directly mean that you have to stay away from home. Merchant navy lifestyle involves 3,4,6,8 or even more month long voyages during which every staff member have to stay away from home.
This may looks easy but home sickness is a big drawback of working in ship. If you are a homely person or prone to homesickness then you should avoid merchant navy as a profession.
Though family is allowed in some cases but home away is a feeling you can’t negotiate in this lifestyle.
Merchant navy is a hazardous job. Huge equipment of your ship, chemicals, and containers in addition to uncertain weather conditions in the middle of sea is what you should be ready for.
Even though proper safety measures are taken and weather forecasts and communication facility is available but still the journeys are uncertain. Hence, high risks are involved in merchant navy.
Due to long period journeys and a different work pattern, merchant navy cadets and other staff get to cut off from the social circle of friends and their community.
Your interactions, meetings and even family gathering are missed due to your work. There is zero social life you enjoy in merchant navy. Network issues and other restrictions suck in this line.
Relentless working hours
Though you enjoy long holidays in this field but at the time you are onboard, your working hours are not fixed. Any sudden weather change, or other technical fault can take your night sleep and emergencies can lead to a 24 hour working day.
Also spending long hours on ship can lead to some physical as well as mental issues. Therefore, this job is not for sea sick people.
Non- vegetarian food is must
Sea lifestyle involves non-veg food onboard. If you are vegetarian or choosy in what you want to eat, then this is not a job for you.
Read Also: How to Join Merchant Navy After 12th
Merchant navy lifestyle involves any eatable thing that most probably will be non-vegetarian. If you are still willing to stay vegetarian, your life will be miserable onboard.