Career as Marine Navigator

Early Salary

4 - 5 L

Mid Salary

6 - 7 L

Senior Salary

10 - 12 L

Academic Pressure


Job Pressure

The merchant navy is made up of civilians who transport cargo as well as passengers in non-combatant, commercial ships. It has two main divisions: navigation and engineering. Navigation officers look after the safe movement of a ship, loading and offloading of cargo, radio communication, as well as crew and passengers. They report to the master, also known as the captain. The hierarchy is as follows: 
  • Master, or captain and second officer or second mate
  • Chief officer or chief mate 
  • Third officer or third mate
“On shore marine officers can work in shipping companies, sea ports, marine logistics companies, container terminals, marine insurance and chartering companies,” says Rajesh Kumar Sharma, head, department of engineering, International Maritime Institute, Greater Noida.

What do they do?

Yes, a captain is the most important person of a ship but a captain cannot take the ship to its destination safely unless he is supported by an able team. As a navigator you would be responsible for the safe journey of a ship. You will be assist and advise captain on estimated time and path to the destination. You will also be in charge of maintenance of the ship’s nautical charts, publication and equipments. You will also remain in touch with the port and will report on the progress of the ship.  

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Skills Needed

  • You have to be physically and mentally tough as you will be away from home for long periods and face certain hazards/ risks at sea. However, senior officers are allowed to take family on ship - conditions apply
  • Possess leadership qualities
  • Have an aptitude for people and material management
  • Be adaptive and willing to live with people from different cultures and backgrounds in the confined spaces of a ship. You should be able to stay away from your family for long periods 

How do I get there?

You should clear your class 12 with Physics, Chemistry, Maths and English. Then, you can opt for
(a) a three-year B Sc nautical science course by clearing the IIT joint entrance exam (followed by a medical exam and counselling) to enrol at an institute offering the degree
(b) a DNS programme - one-year pre-sea training at an institute, followed by 18-month training on ship. To enroll, one has to pass the common entrance test of the Indian Maritime University 
(c) an entrance test of private institutes or a shipping company  
To work as a deck officer and for further promotions, you must clear exams conducted by the ministry of shipping. You can rise to the rank of master in six to eight years after completion of their second mate examination.

Typical day in the life of a Marine Navigator

A day in the life of a chief mate on board a ship:
3.30am:Get up, have coffee
4am (morning watch):  Duty starts. Check maps and ship’s navigation path 
8.30am: Have breakfast
9.30am to 11.30am: Oversee ship’s maintenance; do routine paperwork on fortnightly/ monthly maintenance
11.30am: Tea break
11.45am: Resume work
12.30pm: Have lunch 
1.30pm: In cabin for a nap
4pm:  Resume evening watch. Take records of ship’s movement
6pm: Dinner 
6.30pm to 8pm: Resume watch. Finish any pending work

Pros & Cons about this career

Well-paying, adventurous work Travel around the world; international exposure Work for about six months at a stretch and rest for four

Sailing for days can be physically and mentally exhausting. It’s tough being away from family and society Not as many job options on shore as there might be for engineers

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