The Ultimate Guide to Finding Jobs at Sea

Feb 21, 2020 · 29 mins read ·

Jobs at Sea, Job Seeker Tips
hand holding compass in front of sea

Maybe you’re a newly licensed deck cadet and are wondering how to find entry level cargo ship jobs at sea. Maybe you’re just thinking about exploring a career at sea. Or perhaps you’re someone who has started out on their maritime career but is still trying to get used to finding and applying for seafarer jobs.

Either way, whether you’re at the very start of your career or not, you might have found that finding and lining up your next seafarer job vacancy can sometimes be a challenge.Of course with so many different crew positions on a ship, it’s safe to say that some seafarer ranks are easier to find contracts for than others.

Read more: How to Spot Scammers Who Offer Fake Seafarer Jobs

And if your rank is one of those that is trickier to find a job in, we hope that this guide to helping you find the best maritime jobs and land the contracts you really want will be of use to you.

The ultimate guide to finding jobs at sea

In a series of in-depth articles, Martide is going to be taking a closer look at everything to do with finding a job in the maritime industry.

We’re going to explore the different ways you can find jobs, from using maritime recruitment agencies, to knowing which social media platforms have seafarer job boards.

Read more about the different ways to find jobs at sea

And for those of you who are just thinking about beginning a career in the maritime industry and aren’t yet 100% sure which one of the many entry level cargo ship jobs or seafarer ranks will be right for you, we’ll also take a look at what are the jobs at sea that you could be doing, as well as some of the types of crew positions on a ship.

We’ll also cover some of the different training options and necessary qualifications that are needed for different areas within the maritime industry as a whole.

Read more about training for maritime jobs

the words 'success, go get it' written on a chalkboard

How to know if a life at sea is right for you

Of course, if you are just thinking about setting sail on a career in the shipping industry, you’ll want to know more about entry level cargo ship jobs, in which case we’ve got you covered.

But you will also need to make sure that a life at sea is absolutely the right choice for you.

The thing is, it’s probably fair to say that a seafarer's life on a container ship might not be the easiest route to take when you’re thinking about your future career. It’s a rewarding career, yes, but the lifestyle and working environment can be demanding.

Which is why it’s crucial to research what are the jobs at sea that would be right for you.

Are you a bit of a master chef in the kitchen? If so perhaps you’d be happy working in one of the vacancies for seamen that caters to the crew such as a Chief Cook.

Or maybe you’d prefer to be up on deck and crewing in which case working in one an Able Seaman job might be the right choice for you instead.

Read more about the different types of seafarer jobs

Chef with vats of food

And regardless of where your strengths lie, you will need certain personality traits to succeed in a life at sea. You will need to be physically and mentally strong, resilient, punctual, determined, adaptable, unflappable in an emergency, and be able to think on your feet.

If this sounds a little tough, don’t be put off - there are not many seamen who would say that working in seafarer jobs isn't rewarding.

Yes, you’ll be spending months on the ocean and away from home and your friends and family. It can feel a little isolated, but most seafarer ranks would agree that the benefits of working in jobs at sea far outnumber any drawbacks.

The benefits of working in jobs at sea

So what are some of these benefits of working in jobs at sea? Well for a start, this is no 9 to 5 office job, that’s for sure! You’ll get to experience action and adventure, travel the world, and you will be working alongside Mother Nature at her most awe-inspiring.

Not only that but another big bonus of working in seafarer jobs is the feeling of being a part of a close-knit community that supports one another. In addition, crews on container ships are smaller than they once were, which adds to the sense of camaraderie.

Friendships develop over the weeks you spend on board together, and you might find that you run into the same crewmates on subsequent contracts. It’s always good to see a friendly face when you embark on a new vessel!

Men working in seafarer jobs playing cards in the crew mess

Of course, at the end of the day, a ship is a workplace like any other, and you will be likely to get on with some of your fellow crew better than others. You also might not become best friends forever with everyone you meet, but a lot of deep and lasting friendships are made while at sea.

After all, no one understands you better and the unique life you lead than another person working in jobs at sea like you.

So we’ve looked at the benefits of working in maritime jobs and you’re now fairly sure that this is the course you want to take in your life. We think you’ve made an excellent choice!

But how to get jobs at sea? It can be a bewildering world to delve into.

The sheer number of vacancies for seamen and seafarer ranks that are out there, the training courses that are required, the different ways of going about getting entry level cargo ship can be hard to know where to jump off from.

Which is  precisely why we’ve written this guide!

So, where should you start? Well if you’re reading this article and you’re a Millennial or part of Generation Z your first thought may turn to technology. After all, you’ve grown up with ever increasingly sophisticated personal tech.

But you may be surprised to learn that it’s taken the shipping industry quite some time to get onboard with a more modern approach to doing things.

You see, the shipping industry is traditional by nature and many older crew members, shipowners, ship managers and manning agents can be resistant to using up-to-date software either to run their companies or their recruitment efforts.

But the good news is, the industry is catching up. From self driving ships to blockchain technology, and from streamlined job seeker apps to virtual reality and simulator based training for seafarers.

Seafarer raining taking place on a simulator
Courtesy of Black Sea Training 

There is definitely some new and exciting ground being broken by forward-thinking companies in the shipping industry.

How can technology help you find seafarer jobs?

Love it or loathe it, technology is something that is having a huge effect on the shipping industry, including upon the ways you can search for and apply for jobs, as well as upon seafarer jobs themselves.

Many people, especially those who don’t use it very often, can be a little bit afraid of technology. But in fact tech can be a great tool to help you succeed in your job search.

Many recruiters have mobile apps now - such as Martide’s free app for seafarers who are looking for maritime jobs.

You can download our app from Google Play and from the App Store for Apple.

A Martide maritime jobs site advert showing a smartphone with seafarer jobs on the screen

The best thing about using an app is that you can search for the latest seafarer jobs and stay connected with potential employers no matter where in the world you might be.

Read more: How to Store Your Seafarer Resume & Documents Online

There’s no need to carry your laptop with you, and you definitely don’t need to be anywhere near your computer at home or an internet café. It’s total freedom and it will make finding the newest jobs and submitting your application for those vacancies for seamen a much quicker and easier process than ever before.

Being organized will help you find jobs at sea

It’s all about organizing your job search - something that is really important in maritime jobs when you always need to be thinking one step ahead and lining up your next contract.

Whether you do that while you’re away at sea or you wait until you’re back on dry land, it’s up to you. But websites, job boards, and apps are likely to play a very big part in your job search, and that means so too will technology.

But of course it’s all very well finding a job vacancy, but you also want to make sure that you’re the seafarer who gets selected for it! And now that smaller crews are a mainstay of container shipping, you’ll have to work extra hard to stand out from the crowd.

Read more about organizing your job search

You need to impress potential employers!

A massive part of being successful in your job or contract search is impressing the people who are interviewing you. Whether you speak to maritime recruitment agencies over the phone or on Skype or you have a face to face interview with a shipowner or manager, you need to make sure you convince them that you’re the right seaman for the contract.

From the minute you apply for a job by sending your seafarer resume to an agency or shipping company, to the moment you sign a contract, you need to be professional and polite. Of course you’ll need to have the right qualifications and documents as well, but there is a little more to it than that.

A student holding out his diploma

Making sure you’re on time for an interview, that you are smartly dressed, and answer questions properly and in full are all crucial too.  

That’s where our interview tips for a seafarer will come in useful! After all, we’re in a unique position as one of the leading maritime recruitment agencies to know what recruiters and shipping companies want and expect from their candidates. And we’re passing on those insights to you, to help you find and win the crew positions on a ship that you really want.

Read more about impressing an interviewer

You found a job at sea! Now what?

Let’s fast forward: you’ve been interviewed and you impressed the maritime recruitment agencies or the shipowner. Your documents and certificates have been checked and the contract has been signed. You have the crew change over date written on your calendar and your flights to the port are booked. You’re ready and raring to go!

But, hold on for just one minute, because if you are starting out in entry level cargo ship jobs and you don’t have much sea time logged yet, it’s well worth knowing that there are resources you can turn to if you find it a little hard to deal with life at sea occasionally.

Help and assistance for seafarers

There are a number of groups and organizations out there who have seafarer wellbeing and mental health at their core.

These include Seafarer Help which offers email and telephone services in a few different languages including English, Russian, Filipino, and Spanish. Or you could connect with the chaplains at The Mission to Seafarers who provide prayer or spiritual support, regardless of what faith you do - or don’t - practice.

And don’t forget that your crewmates are all, quite literally, in the same boat as you (excuse the pun!) and having someone to talk to on board the vessel will be immensely valuable.

Silhouette of two people sitting in front of the ocean talking

This might be a deck cadet of around the same age and with the same experience level as you who will understand what you’re feeling. Or it could be someone working in one of the more senior seafarer ranks who can give you the benefit of their wisdom.

Yes, we know it can be tempting to go and sit on your bunk and play video games after your shift or watch is over, but try to remember that human connections can go a long way towards maintaining a healthy mindset when you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away from shore.

And ensuring your mental health is as strong as your physical strength will be one of the things that will help make you into a happy and contented seafarer with a long and successful career ahead of you.

How to find jobs at sea with Martide

At Martide we have helped countless seamen find everything from Masters and Able Seaman jobs and from Chief Marine Engineer positions to entry level cargo ship jobs.

We work with some of the maritime industry’s most prestigious shipping companies, helping them to find qualified crew for their seafarer jobs.

Qualified crew just like you!

Take a look at our vacancies for seamen now and see if we have any seafarer ranks that suit your qualifications. We would love to welcome you on board one of our vessels!

Meanwhile, we mentioned it earlier, but here’s another reminder not to forget to download our mobile app! We’ve designed the Martide app especially for seafarers who want the latest seafarer jobs at their fingertips, no matter where in the world you are.

A Martide maritime jobs site advert showing smartphones with seafarer jobs on the screens

It’s also the best way to stay in touch with shipowners and manning agents thanks to the inbuilt messaging feature.

Get it now from Google Play for Android devices, or from the App Store for your iPhone or iPad. Just search for Martide!

You should also follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for news and articles, maritime industry posts, tips for those looking for seafarer jobs, tricks for staying well at sea, and of course our latest jobs - including urgent vacancies. Make sure you’re not the one missing out!

Read the next article in this series: Your Guide to Maritime Training for Jobs at Sea

Eve Church

Eve Church

Eve is Martide's content writer, publishing regular posts on everything from our maritime recruitment and crew planning software to life at sea. Eve has been writing professionally for more than two decades, crafting everything from SEO-focused blog posts and website landing pages to magazine articles and corporate whitepapers.


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