Global trade heavily relies on the shipping industry for the movement of goods. It is estimated that close to 60% of the global movement of goods happens by sea. Merchant Navy Officers run the ships that move goods from port to port across the world.
They brave the rough seas and capture the oceans to keep the world running smoothly. If you are wondering ‘How to become a Merchant Navy Officer?’, this article has all the answers you need.
This article provides you with the details of the eligibility and responsibilities of a merchant navy officer.
You can also know about the merchant navy requirements, merchant navy qualification, merchant navy selection process, merchant navy age limit, how to join merchant navy after 12th standard, merchant navy entrance exam, merchant navy salary in India, pros and cons of becoming a merchant navy officer & more.
What is the Merchant Navy?
The Merchant Navy is a commercial fleet of ships and its crew engaged in the transport of cargo and passengers by sea. Unlike the military naval force which looks after the defence and security of a country, the merchant navy, under private ownership looks after the commercial fleet of ships.
The crew generally includes captains, navigators, officers, engineers, etc.
Who is a Merchant Navy Officer?
A Merchant Navy Officer is a professional responsible for the safe and efficient operation of commercial ships. They perform under different ranks like a captain, chief mate, second or third mate, etc.
They are typically trained in navigation, engineering, and cargo operations.
Merchant Navy Officers oversee the crew, maintain equipment, and ensure compliance with national and international maritime regulations.
They work in challenging environments for longer periods on the seas and ensure the smooth transport of cargo and passengers.
Skills Required to Become a Merchant Navy Officer
A aspirant must possess certain skills to become a Merchant Navy Officer. These skills include
Strong leadership skills
Good Communication and Interpersonal skills
Proficiency in traditional and modern navigation systems
Physical fitness and stamina
Strong technical skills
Ability to operate and maintain machinery and equipment
Adaptable to different cultures and weather conditions
Knowledge of maritime regulations
Keen eye to detail and weather changes
Roles and Responsibilities of a Merchant Navy Officer
Merchant Navy Officers predominantly function in two departments ie. Navigation or Deck, and Engineering. The responsibilities of the officers in different roles in given below.
The responsibilities of a navigation or deck officer in the merchant navy are
Navigate the ships using modern and traditional navigation systems
Take necessary and appropriate actions based on weather reports
Supervise the operation and maintenance of onboard equipment and machinery
Manage onboard communications
Oversee the ship crew and ensure the highest level of health and safety standards
Maintain operational and legal records of the ship
Be up to date with changes in maritime regulations
The responsibilities of a Merchant Navy Officer in Engineering includes
Manage onboard power generation and distribution systems
Monitor, repair, and upgrade systems and equipment onboard
Conduct regular inspections and maintenance programmes
Operate and maintaining the onboard electrical and mechanical equipment.
Eligibility to Become a Merchant Navy officer
The following basic eligibility criteria must be met by an aspirant to become a Merchant Navy Officer in India.
The aspirant must be an Indian resident less than 28 years of age (priority for unmarried candidates).
Must be physically fit and have the stamina to stand and work for long hours. Good Vision is preferred.
Must have completed 12th standard in the Science stream with Mathematics as a main subject.
Should have completed at least a bachelor’s degree from the courses mentioned below.
Aspirants must have cleared instructional classes and commercial training by the shipping company or its associates.
How to Become a Merchant Navy Officer in India? A Step-by-Step Guide
Here is a step-by-step guide to becoming a Merchant navy Officer in India.
After completing the 10th standard, take up the science stream for +2 with Mathematics as a main subject.
After successfully completing +2, take up the entrance exams for courses in maritime and naval technology.
Complete the undergraduate program with a good academic record and enroll on a naval training program.
Apply for a private or public shipping company and find employment opportunities.
The entry-level in the Merchant navy starts as a junior cadet and progresses till the ship captain.
Entrance Exams to Become a Merchant Navy Officer
There are no exams to secure employment in the Merchant Navy. However, one must clear the entrance examination to secure admission to courses in maritime institutes. Some of the popular exams for a bachelor’s degree are
IMUCET – Indian Maritime University Common Entrance Test
JEE (Mains and Advanced) – Joint Entrance Examination
CET – Common Entrance Test for state institutes
List of Merchant Navy Courses
There are multiple undergraduate (merchant navy courses after 12th Std.), post-graduate, and training programs offered by institutes in India. They are
BE Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering
BE Marine Electrical and Electronics Engineering
BE Mechanical Engineering
BE Marine Information Technology
BE Harbour and Ocean Engineering
BE Ship Building, Repair and Conversion Technology
B.Sc Nautical Science
Post Graduate Courses
M.Tech Marine Engineering Management
M.Tech Petroleum Engineering
M.Sc Marine Biotechnology
M.Sc Fleet Operations Management
Short term/Specialized Courses
Deck Operations Trainee Program
Electro Technical Officer
Diploma in Nautical Science
Graduate in Marine Engineering
List of Best Merchant Navy Colleges in India
These are some of the popular institutes in India to build a career in the Merchant Navy.
Institute of Maritime Studies, Goa
Delhi Maritime Academy, New Delhi
Integrated Institute of Merchant Navy, Hyderabad
Coimbatore Marine College, Coimbatore
Institute of Technology and Marine Engineering, Kolkata
Indian Maritime University, Chennai
Maharastra Academy of naval Education and Training, Pune
Samudra Institute of Maritime Studies, Mumbai
Vels Academy of Maritime Studies, Chennai
Internationalional Maritime Institute, New Delhi
Ranks in Merchant Navy
Merchant Navy Ranks vary depending on the type of vessel, country, and the company. The basic hierarchy is as follows.
Fifth Engineer (Junior Engineer)
Engine Cadet (Trainee Engineer)
The higher-ranking officials are responsible for the safe and efficient operations of the ship and its crew. Lower-ranking officials carry out routine tasks onboard the ship. Cadets and trainees are usually in the learning and training phase.
Salary of a Merchant Navy Officer (Abroad and India)
The salary of merchant navy officers depends on the nationality of the ships and companies they work for. Below is the estimated salary range for merchant navy officers in India and abroad.
Work Profile or Rank
Salary Range (Approx.) India (per month)
Salary Range (Approx.) Abroad (per month)
G P Rating
INR 30k to INR 80k
350$ – 2000$
INR 25k to INR 85k
350$ – 2200$
INR 30k to INR 1 lakh
1000$ – 3000$
2nd and 3rd Officer
INR 2 lakh to INR 4 lakh
2400$ – 5000$
INR 5 lakh to INR 8 lakh
6500$ – 10000$
Merchant Navy Captain
INR 10 lakh to INR 24 lakh
8000$ – 14000$
Pros and Cons
Pros of Becoming a Merchant Navy Officer:
Adventurous and Exciting Job
Good Salary and benefits
Work alongside the crew from different cultures and nationalities
Opportunity to develop technical and leadership skills
Cons of Becoming a Merchant Navy Officer:
Should be in the sea for long periods away from home
Risk of accident and injuries and threat to life
Must be compliant to regulations, procedures, and protocols
How to Join the Merchant Navy after Graduation?
After graduation in maritime courses, enrol for training based on your academic qualification. Depending on academics, aspirants can enrol in the deck or engineering departments.
Can Arts Students join Merchant Navy?
Candidates from arts backgrounds can enrol in the merchant navy in the GP Rating department.
Can I join the Merchant Navy after class 10th?
No, candidates cannot join the merchant navy after the 10th. They must at least have an undergraduate degree.
How can I join Merchant Navy after Class 12th?
After completing class 12 or 12th standard, candidates should enrol for a bachelor’s degree. After graduating, they can get trained and join the merchant navy.
Is Merchant Navy a Government Job?
Merchant navy is not a government job. It is managed by private shipping companies for security and operations.
Is the Merchant Navy Exam Difficult?
Academic exams for the Merchant Navy are the same as any other courses. However, candidates should undergo rigorous physical training before deployment.
What is the Difference Between the Merchant Navy and the Indian Navy?
Indian Navy is the coastal defence line of India. They manage the security of coastlines. However, Merchant Navy manages the security and operations of private cargo ships and ferries.
How long does it take to Become a Merchant Navy Officer?
After completing the 12th standard, it takes 5-7 years to start working as a merchant navy officer.
Is Merchant Navy a Permanent Job?
Merchant Navy is not a permanent job. It is generally a multi-year contractual job.
Is the Merchant Navy in Demand?
With the rise in global consumption and demand for goods, merchant navy officers are highly in demand.
Meet Sanjay Hota, an edtech content writer with 4+ years of experience. Sanjay creates engaging content for educational institutions and edtech companies, and in his spare time, he helps students and graduates find clarity about their career prospects through his career counselling programme.