How to become a Merchant Navy Officer

Overview, Courses, Exam, Colleges, Pathways, Salary

Defence & Military


Who is Merchant Navy Officer ?

Merchant Navy is a global industry that offers commercial services that play a significant role in international trade by transporting cargo all around the globe. These carriers house several workers to transport goods from one country to another. Making the merchant navy an essential component in the world economy is the fact that more than 90% of the goods are transported via ships across the globe. A career in the merchant navy is a perfect fit for the aspirants who are interested in travelling the world as a part of their job. The Merchant navy comprises three main departments leading to distinct job profiles, namely, Deck, Engine, and Crew Ratings. Some of the major positions in the Merchant navy include Navigation (Deck) Officer, Electro-technical officer (ETO), Marine Engineer, and Ratings (skilled seafarers) and the catering/ hospitality crew (pursers, chefs, housekeepers).

Typical day at work

What does Merchant Navy Officer do?

The role and responsibilities of those in the Merchant navy differ with regard to their specific job title and position. Following are some of the key responsibilities of the major job positions in the merchant navy:

1. Navigation (Deck) Officer

  • Navigate ships as an engineer using radar, satellite, and GPS systems, while monitoring weather reports
  • Supervise the maintenance activities on the ship and oversee the operational responsibilities of the crew, from loading cargo to using machines
  • Manage the ship’s communication systems and ensure the maintenance of all safety and firefighting equipment

2. Engineering Officer

  • Maintain and operate the onboard equipment, including mechanical, electronic, and electrical systems
  • Monitor the working of the systems onboards and conduct necessary repairs and upgradations as necessary
  • Manage the power systems for the ship to ensure proper generation and distribution of power
  • Maintain the smooth running of the ship’s engine and propulsion systems
  • Adjusting the speed of the ship as required on the basis of radar readings

Abilities and Aptitude needed

What are the skills, abilities & aptitude needed to become Merchant Navy Officer?

The competency of the individuals in the merchant navy is gauged at an international level, requiring specialized knowledge and training. Regardless of their specific job title, each individual in the Merchant Navy needs to be adept at working under pressure and handling a myriad of possible situations that may arise on the ship. It is mandatory for all individuals in the merchant navy to produce a certificate of fitness from a registered medical practitioner to demonstrate the physical stamina that shall be required to carry out their tasks at sea. Along with this, their vision and eyesight are also tested and an upper age limit of 25 years is required to qualify. The knowledge of certain critical subjects including science, English, and mathematics is required for a job in the merchant navy. Communication and interpersonal skills are crucial for this role as those in the merchant navy have to work as a part of a close-knit team for extended periods. They should be self-motivated individuals with excellent time management and organization skills who are able to effectively plan contingencies and accept responsibility for their work. This also necessitates physical and mental endurance to cope with being away from home for extended periods.


Salary for Merchant Navy Officer?

In Merchant Navy, the salary range is between Rs.12000 to Rs.8 lakhs per month. The salary structure is different from company to company, city, the export-import needs, seniority etc. Crew members and officers are given free meals on board and senior officers can carry their wives along with them. A Junior Engineer on a ship earn around Rs. 30,000 per month. As aspirant get promoted to Second Engineer and Chief Engineer on a ship, salary increases substantially. About 6-7 years it takes for a Junior Engineer to get promoted to the rank of Chief Engineer, because it will depend on individual capabilities and job opportunities. Third Officer's salary is around Rs. 50,000 per month plus free boarding and lodging while on board. Order of increasing seniority rank is Second Officer, a Chief Officer and Captain of a ship. Captain’s salary is Rs. 2 lakhs per month. About 8 years is required for a Third Officer to get promoted to the rank of Captain but it depends on individual capabilities and job opportunities.

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How to become an Merchant Navy Officer?

Entrance Exam

Entrance Exam for Merchant Navy Officer ?

Aspirants after their 12th class completion, aspirants can appear for the Indian Maritime University Common Entrance Test (IMU CET) or the All India Merchant Navy Entrance Exam. The other exams conducted for Marine Engineering are JEE, MERI Entrance Exam, TIMSAT.



Which course I can pursue?


Which Industries are open for Merchant Navy Officer?

  • Government Agency
  • State Government
  • Federal Government
  • International Trade
  • Merchant Navy


Are there internships available for Merchant Navy Officer?

The internship allows students to gain experience working in the organization while studying at University. Employment opportunity is more in this field. The internship will provide practical knowledge about handling machinery, maintaining paperwork, professionalism. An internship in the merchant navy is required for the three main departments of the ship- the deck, the engine and the service department.

Career outlook

What does the future look like for Merchant Navy Officer?

A career in the Merchant Navy offers an excellent opportunity to travel around the world and contribute to one of the nation’s most important industries. Apart from the high remunerations that the merchant navy professionals receive, some of the other benefits include duty-free imported goods, an annual four months leave, and exemption from income tax. Those in the merchant navy can be employed by commercial shipping companies and work on a range of vessels such as cruise liners, cargo ships, oil tankers, gas/ chemical tankers, hovercraft, large commercial yachts as well as support vessels for offshore exploration. Merchant ships are a vital national industry owing to the large volume of goods that they transport, supporting the country’s international trade and thereby contributing to the nation’s economy. Shipping being a permanent industry and its ever-present demand for manpower makes a job in the merchant navy an excellent career choice.