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How to Build a Career in Top Paying Seafarer Jobs

How to Build a Career in Top Paying Seafarer Jobs

Eve Jones

Have you ever wondered what some of the top paying seafarer jobs are? If you’re considering a career in jobs at sea, are wondering what are some examples of maritime jobs, or are starting to look for entry level cargo ship jobs it’s only natural to wonder what level of pay you can expect.

And in the shipping industry, as with any industry, maritime jobs salary levels will normally be directly related to an employee or contractor's relevant education or training, their skill sets and their age and experience. A career at sea is one in which you will work your way up the ladder of seafarer ranks and up the hierarchy.

Entry level cargo ship jobs such as Deck Cadet, Oiler, Wiper, Deckhand, Trainee Ordinary Seaman, and Ordinary Seaman, are of course lower paid than Chief Engineer jobs, Bosun jobs, ship’s Officer jobs, and of course the ship’s Master.

Officer standing on the deck of a ship

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Bosun Jobs

But that doesn’t mean you should be discouraged. Maritime jobs come in all shapes and sizes and one of the most satisfying things about working in jobs at sea is working your way up to achieve more experience, certifications - and of course pay!

How to build a career in top paying seafarer jobs

For younger crew members taking their first steps on the career ladder it would be unrealistic to expect a top level salary. But whether you’re looking for entry level cargo ship jobs with the aim of turning your first position into a high flying career to build up your seaman resume, or you are wondering which areas of the shipping industry you should be studying or training for to eventually reach a top flight maritime jobs salary, you might be interested in knowing what the top paying seafarer jobs are.

There’s certainly no shame in considering salary as a factor when considering maritime jobs and career pathways. After all, most of the cargo ship jobs on a vessel can be physically and mentally demanding.

And let's be honest, very few of us are willing to work for peanuts!

red squirrel eating peanuts from a wooden feeder on the grass

The good news is that among the many maritime jobs to choose from, there are plenty that offer generous compensation, and working in shipping will also allow you to build a career that offers non-financial rewards in the form of fulfilment, job satisfaction and the opportunity to travel the world.

So, what are some examples of maritime jobs that pay a great wage that you can work your way towards?

The first job that might spring to mind when thinking about jobs you’d like to eventually be able to add to your resume for a seaman is that of the Captain (also known as the Master) of a vessel. It’s a seafarer job that is seen by many as one that comes with a high salary and enviable lifestyle. (As well as a LOT of responsibility and pressure!)

But there are plenty of other seafarer ranks with a very decent maritime jobs salary that will provide for a comfortable standard of living.

person holding fan of banknotes

But before you can add Master or Chief Engineer to your seaman resume, you first need to know about seafarer training.

Seafarer training for jobs at sea

Are you wondering what maritime training and subjects to major in? If you have a leaning towards the technical side of things, you could consider training to become a ship’s engineer. Again, you will work your way up through the seafarer ranks to become a Third Engineer, Second Engineer, and subsequently, a Chief Engineer. In a nutshell the Chief Engineer of a vessel is the big boss of the technical department.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Chief Marine Engineer Jobs

This position’s duties include making sure that the machinery in the engine room is in correct working order to facilitate a trouble-free voyage. It’s one of the jobs at sea that comes with great responsibility, but for the right person and someone who is willing to work their way up the engineering chain it could be a great career choice.

heavy duty chain hanging from a ship-s hull at sunset

To work as a Chief Marine Engineer you will need to be educated to degree level and will also need to hold the certifications and qualifications that are relevant both to the maritime industry and to that seafarer rank.

Other top paying seafarer jobs: Chief Officer

As we've already mentioned, a maritime jobs salary will vary from rank to rank and will depend on your experience, ability and on you having the right qualifications. And another top paying seafarer job that you might want to work your way towards listing on your resume for a seaman is that of Chief Officer. (You may also hear the Chief Officer sometimes called First Officer, Chief Mate or First Mate.)

Whatever their title, the Chief Officer is second in command to the ship’s Master and will assume control in the latter’s absence - for example if the Master falls ill or is otherwise unavailable. Their responsibilities include supervising the deck crew and safeguarding the ship’s cargo operations.

cargo ship at a container terminal

The vessel’s security and safety also fall to the Chief Officer as do standing navigation watches and the welfare of the crew on board. Training Deck Cadets and crew alike on crucial aspects of life on board a ship such as search and rescue, general safety and firefighting is also in their remit. The position also comes with a fair amount of administrative work.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Chief Officer Jobs

To work your way up to Chief Officer you will first need to train to become a Deck Officer. Training will include studying subjects such as navigation, becoming familiar with different types of vessels (tankers, heavy load carriers, bulk carriers, ro-ro ships, cargo ships etc.), first aid, firefighting, rules and regulations, and personal survival and safety.

These will be studied ashore and you may also undergo training at sea by becoming a Deck Cadet and shadowing an experienced officer onboard. From then on, you will gain more experience and sea time and start to work your way up.

ladder and ropes on a ship's deck

Set your sights on becoming a ship's Master

Meanwhile, those who have their sights set on one of the top seafarer jobs and, indeed, on one of the top paying jobs at sea, might want to look at the requirements for seamen and women who want to eventually make the grade of ship's Master.

This high-grade licensed mariner has ultimate responsibility of, and command over, a vessel. The ship’s Master earns their generous salary by assuming accountability for the efficient operation of their ship and the safety of its crew and cargo.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Ship's Master Jobs

What does this entail? Everything from the vessel’s safe navigation, her security and seaworthiness, the cargo operations, overall management of the crew and even legal compliance.

Dream Big painted in white in black background

Martide helps you find entry level cargo ship jobs and more

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Junior Electrician, Able Seaman, Chief Cook, Second Engineer, or Shipfitter - we’re always recruiting for all different seafarer ranks and levels of experience.

If you’re already a qualified seaman and you’re looking for seafarer jobs or contracts in the maritime industry register an account with Martide today. We’ve helped everyone from new recruits to old sea hands find their next job at sea and we’ve a number of exciting positions to fill for all experience levels.

Plus for anytime, anywhere access and to make your search for seafarer jobs easier, especially when you’re on the go, download our free mobile app either from Google Play or the Apple Store today!

This post was originally published on May 8th 2019 and updated on November 5th 2020