Life After Seafaring - A Guide to Post-Sea Careers

Life After Seafaring – A Guide to Post-Sea Careers

The maritime industry is one of the biggest industries globally and employs a considerable number of seafarers. For decades, seafaring jobs have been a shining beacon for people who simultaneously want to work and travel the globe. These jobs have attracted the youth for decades because of their exciting career opportunities and financial stability. While an onboard job is what many people aim to achieve, many seafarers opt for a job onshore.

Being onboard ships might sound extremely appealing, but it can be tiring for people who are constantly voyaging on ships. Although these well-paying jobs offer innumerable career opportunities, they can be extremely taxing and involve leading a hectic lifestyle.

After some decades of service at sea, people crave the normalcy of a 9-5 routine. The hectic lifestyle makes seafarers want to settle onshore, which will also enable them to be closer to their families.  At times, seafarers also suffer from declining health due to their irregular sleep schedules and workload. Due to reasons like these, seafarers consider a variety of career options after a successful career at sea.

Here we see some popular career choices for seafarers looking to apply their experience in a similar or unrelated field.

Job Options for an Ex-Seafarer

There are a ton of different careers for ex-seafarers both within and outside the maritime industry.

A lot of ex-seafarers, after quitting their seafaring job, opt for another job in the maritime industry itself. Here they can choose from a variety of options including maritime survey, ship operation and management, ship broking, ports, and harbour management. Since ex-seafarers have tremendous amounts of experience, it’s easier to switch and there is no need to take additional courses.  

Outside of the maritime industry, a lot of seafarers who quit their job aim to establish their own businesses. Some ex-seafarers acquire a franchise business because it is convenient and easy to secure a bank loan for it. Some choose to become property dealers, financial consultants, or online traders if they possess or learn the required skill set. With the knowledge seafarers have, they can also clear civil entrance exams and secure high-profile government jobs. A few of them also train in MBA programs and obtain well-paying jobs in private companies, shipping companies, banks, and other private organizations. After a lifetime of seafaring, these professionals often prefer to pursue their independent hobbies and try their hand at creating a career in a different field.

Let us take a look at some of these career profiles in more detail and what exactly is required to begin working in that sector.

  • Self-employment in Business

During their years of maritime service, seafarers acquire hands-on experience in people and situation management. They develop a strong presence of mind and a keen instinct for decision-making, which is essential for business. Which is why a lot of ex-seafarers choose to start their own businesses. In case they are unable to acquire the required capital for investment, they may opt for a franchise business. Franchise businesses start at a low cost and require a small amount of investment as compared to that required for starting a larger, independent business.

Given the changing cultural trends today, there are various fields to choose from while starting a franchise business. In addition, there are also other self-employment options like financial consultants, property dealers, and online traders that ex-seafarers can choose from.

  • Government and Private Company Jobs

Jobs in government can be easy to acquire for ex-seafarers due to their years of experience at sea. They can easily secure high profile government jobs by clearing a few civil entrance exams. Private banks and shipping companies also offer several training programs for ex-seafarers where they can hone their existing skill-set. In addition, there are specialized courses offered by reputed institutes across the world, which can help seafarers kickstart a career in private/government companies.

  • Marine Survey

A marine surveyor is responsible for assessing vessels to see if they are in working condition and inspect the cargo and equipment as well, to ensure that all the necessary standards have been met. The observational skills and technical knowledge of ex-seafarers can come in handy here, as they know exactly what is expected from the vessel. If they choose to be a maritime surveyor, it is easy for ex-seafarers to get accustomed to the job and make a ship secure enough to undertake a voyage.

  • Ship Operation

By undertaking a few management courses, it is possible for ex-seafarers to handle ship operation and management. The job requires extensive knowledge of the proceedings of a ship, checking the quality and safety of the vessel, and looking after its maintenance. As seamen intimately acquaint themselves with the workings of ships, this job is highly suitable for those who want a change in career but continue in the maritime sector.

  • Ship Broking

A shipbroker looks for cargo for ships and ships to carry cargo. It is an easy profession to follow for people who already have had a career working aboard ships. Training courses for the same are also available. The ex-seafarer who chooses ship broking as a career needs to have knowledge about cargo, methods of loading and unloading and other engagements.

  • Port and Harbour Management

Ex-seafarers who have served at higher posts onboard ships are ideal candidates for port and harbour management. Since they already know the proceedings of ship management, docking, loading/unloading, etc., they can easily handle the technical aspects of the job, such as management, administration and overseeing the loading and unloading activities on the vessels.

Thorough knowledge of port rules and regulations is required in this sector. A degree in port management can also serve as an additional benefit for recruitment, even excluding the years of experience as a seafarer.

Popular Career Spheres for Ex-Seafarers in India

In India, there is a huge demand for training young cadets and personnel starting out in the maritime industry. Ex-seafarers can be extremely resourceful, guiding students in marine colleges about the discipline and mental strength they require.

Some opt for careers as company consultants or maritime lawyers, consulting private sectors in case of an emergency. The most common career option that ex-seafarers opt for in India is that of a marine surveyor. Ex-seafarers can also choose to teach safety-training, wherein they train young cadets for safety aboard ships.


Seafaring is as challenging as it is rewarding. Ex-seafarers have a ton of experience at their end, having learned the valuable lessons that a life at sea offers. In fact, being an ex-seafarer increases their chances manifold of getting recruited for maritime jobs, both onshore and offshore.

Post their maritime stint, they have several job opportunities in and outside the maritime industry, helping them start a new career just as rewarding as their old one. In addition to the career options mentioned above, there are also numerous lesser-known careers that ex-seafarers can choose from and work for reputed shipping fraternity companies like SHM Shipcare. What are your thoughts on post-maritime careers in the industry? Share your experience with us below!

Cover Image Source: shipsandports

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