Merchant Seaman Job Description

Merchant Seaman Job Description, Skills, and Salary

Are you searching for a merchant seaman job description? Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a merchant seaman. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a merchant seaman.


Who is a Merchant Seaman?

A merchant seaman is a professional sea navigator who is a member of the merchant marine. The seaman serves on a ship that frequently engages in international trade. This broad sector includes jobs in engineering, navigation, and sanitation, among other fields. Every position calls for a distinct amount of certifications and expertise due to the diversity of this business. While it is true that some of the skills required to be a merchant seaman can be learned on-site, others will require some years of education and training.

A merchant seaman typically works on the deck or engineering departments. While you’ll still be expected to work alongside your coworkers on practical duties, your primary responsibility will be acting as a manager and leader. As a seamen merchant, your role is probably going to be more managerial, and this is determined by how big the ship is. Work is based at sea, onboard ships that operate year-round. Shifts are usually four hours on duty and eight hours off. Although the profession requires a lot of travel, opportunities to get ashore may be scarce because of duties at sea and quick turnaround periods in ports. A growing number of companies are depending on shipping to convey their goods, which is causing the marine industry to expand quickly. The need for merchant mariners who can assist in moving cargo safely and effectively is therefore great.

Merchant seamen can benefit from this development by earning certifications in several maritime specialties. As a result, they will be able to focus on particular jobs like loading and unloading ships or repairing equipment. They should also put a lot of effort into enhancing their communication abilities, which are crucial for cooperating with others in a team setting. To become a merchant seaman, you must first obtain a high school graduation or GED. For superior roles and offices, some businesses may require a college degree or an associate’s degree. An option for those who would want to specialize is to go to school for a degree in marine engineering, marine transportation, or a closely related profession. Depending on whether you want to pursue engineering, electro-technical, or navigation (deck) officer training, the courses can span between three and four years and have a variety of different topics. This enables you to work aboard any merchant ship in any port worldwide.

As the economy expands, competition for talent between various sectors is beginning to emerge, including the shipping sector. This is particularly true in the field of logistics, where businesses seek experts who can assist them in sending goods to clients more quickly and effectively. Merchant seamen can benefit from this trend by honing their talents to make them valuable to other sectors of the economy. To track shipments or manage inventories, for instance, they may learn how to utilize the software.

Merchant seamen spend a lot of time away from their homes while working on ships. They are required to adhere to a rigid daily schedule while living and working in close quarters with other crew members. The hours are long and inconsistent, and the work can be physically taxing and dangerous. However, depending on the vessel’s schedule, seamen may work fewer or more hours than the standard 12 per day, seven days per week. They can be expected to put in extra hours, and their work schedule might be altered abruptly. Seamen must be able to function independently and adapt to shifting circumstances. They must also be able to cooperate with others and follow instructions.


Merchant Seaman Job Description

What is a merchant seaman job description? A merchant seaman job description is simply a list of duties and responsibilities of a merchant seaman in an organization. Below are the merchant seaman job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a merchant seaman job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.

The following are the job description of a merchant seaman;

  • Navigating the vessel: Using a range of instruments/equipment like satellite and radar systems, a merchant seaman will navigate goods and services.
  • Keeping updated about the weather and navigation report: A merchant seaman is saddled with the responsibility of checking weather and navigation reports. This will help him take appropriate actions if a report is threatening.
  • Coordinating the loading and unloading of cargoes: coordination helps to enhance the safe delivery of client’s goods.
  • Ensuring that the client is ferried safely and duly cared for. This role is very important for merchant seamen working on a ferry or cruise ship.
  • overseeing the use and upkeep of deck equipment, such as winches and cranes
  • Managing the communication systems in the ship.
  • Keeping track of safety, firefighting, and life-saving equipment and maint
  • Keeping watch over the ship to guarantee the utmost standards of health and safety are upheld.
  • Keeping track of all necessary paperwork, including the ship’s log.
  • Being updated about the changes in marine legal, commercial and political issues.
  • Using and maintaining the electrical and mechanical equipment on the ship.
  • Controlling the refrigeration equipment, ventilation, and pumping systems as well as the production and distribution of electricity.
  • Monitoring and upgrading systems like the air compressors, pumps, and sewage plants
  • Executing consistent equipment maintenance and inspection plans.
  • Keeping supervisors informed of loading strategies, scheduling modifications, and other difficulties.
  • Adhering to safety protocols and acting immediately in case of emergencies like fires or oil spills.
  • Engaging in strenuous activities such as deck cleaning or cargo container loading.
  • Complying with international regulations and legislation about environmental preservation, safety, and security.
  • Keeping the workplace neat and safe by adhering to safety protocols, disclosing potential dangers, and offering first aid to injured employees.



  • Education: Engineers and deck officers commonly hold bachelor’s degrees from merchant marine academies. Ordinarily, non-officers don’t hold bachelor’s degrees. These professionals go through on-the-job training that lasts anywhere from a few months to a year to get ready for the field.
  • Working experience: Many non-officer roles do not require experience, but individuals who have had previous employment will have a better chance of finding employment, getting promoted, and maybe earning a higher salary. Attending a maritime academy or spending at least three years on the deck crew are two ways that captains and other officers might gain experience.A seaman needs to possess a government-issued license to be qualified to work as a deck, engine, or radio officer.
  • Fitness and Health: Human strength is put to the test both physically and mentally by the sea. To be ready for any situation onboard, it is critical to be both physically and mentally healthy. If you weren’t a good fit, you wouldn’t be chosen. The health and fitness of the men who serve as merchant seamen are extremely important because they must be on the water for a significant portion of the year. Since every work on board is done in teams and each duty has an impact on the others, fitness is a factor that not only impacts the individual but also the other crew members. As a result, poor performance in one area can endanger the other areas. Considering how important safety is, it is not advisable to employ an unhealthy individual.
  • Licenses and Certifications: After completing the required training, you can pursue certifications to advance your career and learn more about your duties. For those who wish to advance from the junior level Officer of the Watch certificate to higher levels, the Merchant Navy offers clear training pathways. By presenting the chief mate or second engineer certificate, the MCA recognizes the next level of ability. The master’s or chief engineer’s certificate represents the greatest level of proficiency. In addition to the MCA certificates of competency, advancement to each rank allows you to earn academic or professional credentials that are nationally recognized. Courses on topics like personal safety, safety law, and personal survival strategies are offered by colleges, universities, and specialized training groups.


Essential Skills

A lot of merchant seamen need specific expertise to carry out their duties.

  • Navigation: Navigating the ship to its destination is a common task for a merchant seaman.In addition to more conventional navigational devices like a compass and sextant, they also use radar and GPS. To navigate the waterways, they also employ charts and maps.
  • Communication skills in both writing and speaking: Being able to communicate effectively is being able to transmit information to others. To connect with their crew, other crew members, and customers, merchant seamen employ their communication abilities. They also communicate with their loved ones by sending and receiving emails and texts from their friends and family.
  • mechanical skills: As we discussed earlier, the work of a merchant seaman frequently involves operating and maintaining machinery. They might be required to operate various pieces of equipment, such as cranes, winches, radar, navigational devices, pumps, and generators. They can also have to fix these devices when they malfunction. Understanding how machines operate can aid merchant mariners in doing their tasks.
  • Physical Aplomb: The work of a merchant seaman entails prolonged physical exertion. They must be able to lift large objects, stand for long periods, and scale ship masts.
  • Adaptability: The ability to adjust to shifting sea conditions is a requirement for merchant mariners. They must have the flexibility to adapt to fluctuating tides, varying weather, and other variables that can have an impact on their task. They can perform their responsibilities more effectively and safely if they are adaptive.
  • Decision-making skills: In the maritime sector, you frequently have to decide fast and under pressure. Strong decision-making abilities are essential because these choices could have substantial economic, safety, and environmental repercussions.
  • The ability to maintain unfeigned composure in trying circumstances.
  • The capacity to lead, inspire and motivate others, as well as teamwork abilities.
  • Computation skills
  • Self-reliance, zeal, and assurance.
  • Creativity, flexibility, and adaptation


How to Become a Merchant Seaman

How much education you require will be one of your first considerations if you want to work as a merchant seaman. A bachelor’s degree is held by 21.4% of merchant mariners, according to research. Research revealed that only 0.0% of merchant seafarers had master’s degrees. While few merchant sailors hold a college degree, becoming one is still achievable with only a high school diploma or GED. If you’ve decided to work as a merchant mariner, there are a few measures you can take. The following qualifications are normally needed for a merchant seaman position, though the level of experience and education varies depending on the position.

  • Education: To work as a merchant seaman, you must first obtain a high school graduation or GED. For superior roles and offices, some businesses may require a college degree or an associate’s degree. An option for those who would want to specialize is to go to school for a degree in marine engineering, marine transportation, or a closely related profession. Depending on whether you want to pursue engineering, electro-technical, or navigation (deck) officer training, the courses can span between three and four years and have a variety of different topics. This enables you to work aboard any merchant ship in any port worldwide. A-levels are also required for admission to foundation degrees, professional diplomas, or honors degrees.
  • Specialization: Most people start their careers as entry-level Merchants after earning a bachelor’s degree in business or a closely related profession. Generally speaking, you can become a merchant after earning your four-year bachelor’s degree in a related field. You could wish to look for certification depending on the type of Merchant career you’re pursuing.
  • Request a TWIC. The United States Transportation Security Administration issues a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), which is a significant credential. Many professionals who have access to secure maritime facilities under their jobs need it.
  • Physical examination and drug testing Physical work and the capacity to stand, kneel, and bend for extended hours are necessities for many maritime vocations. Additionally, the applicant must be drug-free.
  • Request an MMC. The United States Coast Guard can grant credentials called Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMCs). You can operate in the maritime merchant marine sector with this certification. Once you’ve decided on the profession you want to pursue, you can enroll in an apprentice program to hone your abilities.
  • Obtain a practicing license, prepare your resume and go into the search for available positions that match your qualifications.


Where to Work as a Merchant Seaman

  • A Shipping management companies
  • A Training management companies
  • Lecturing or research in higher education institutions.
  • Port operations, including pilotage.
  • Maritime training and recruitment companies.
  • Charitable organizations.
  • Maritime regulatory authorities.
  • Oil, gas, and chemical tankers, and other bulk cargo carriers.
  • Marine insurance companies.
  • Cargo container ships.
  • An offshore support vessel designed for specialized roles.
  • Ferries and cruise ships.


Merchant Seaman Salary Scale

The median yearly pay for a merchant seaman in the US is about $55,000, according to the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies. Salaries, meanwhile, might range from $27,000 to $120,000.

Transportation Distribution and Logistics

Leave a Reply