From Ship to Shore
From Ship to Shore
by Jenni Bardi – Flagship Management
There is an increasing demand for qualified, experienced shore-based personnel in the maritime industry, but combined with the perception by seafarers that potential salaries for shoreside positions fall far below their current earnings, it is becoming more difficult to entice our sailors back to land. That said, according to the 2013 Nautilus Institute Report on Maritime Career Paths, a large proportion of seafarers estimate they will spend between 10 and 15 years in sea service, anticipating a move to a shoreside career after, but many find it difficult to make the transition. Here we’ll take a look at some of the factors to consider when coming ashore and how best to prepare yourself for what can be an exciting new chapter in your life.
While you may rise in rank to a chief engineer or captain at sea, this is as far as you’ll go, with many years ahead of you until retirement. Shore based positions offer a wealth of new and challenging opportunities to utilize and enhance your knowledge, with more long term career prospects. Your seagoing experience is a valued asset and operations, superintendency, fleet management, surveying, marine sales and education and are just a few of the areas you could transfer your seagoing knowledge to in a shore based career. You could also venture into the shipbroking, insurance and maritime law sectors.
Ok, I’m interested, but how do I make it easier for myself to make the transition…?
If at all possible, you should schedule some training courses during your spare time to widen your scope of career options. Whilst your rank of chief engineer or master may be sufficient for certain shoreside roles, it may not necessarily provide you with an understanding of working in an office or commercial environment. You can give yourself the edge over other candidates by investing in skills training and approved leadership or management courses geared towards your preferred career path. Some of these skills could include refamiliarising yourself with Excel, Word and Powerpoint. You could investigate health and safety courses, which are becoming increasingly popular in the shipping industry, where supply of these skills is extremely limited. These courses can be taken either on shore or online, and there are some great sites now offering excellent university level short and diploma courses. The best of these in our opinion is www.alison.com which is supported and endorsed by Harvard, Google Microsoft, MIT and other leading international companies and institutes.
Living in a new country can be an exciting and enjoyable opportunity. Immersing yourself long term into the culture of a new country will be a very different experience to brief port visits. If you have a partner to consider, it is important to discuss relocation with them – will they seek employment also? If not, are there activities or groups of interest to help them integrate into the local society? If you have children you may want to investigate available schools/clubs etc. Many employees choose to go on ahead for a month or two to settle in, with family following on later. Making a reconnaissance trip to your destination with your family is advised, but if this is not possible just make sure you do your research well. Ask around. Your recruitment consultant may know the area well and can help provide information. There’s a whole new world waiting for you! Grab it!
If it’s being on the move that motivates you, certain shoreside roles will still involve travel, but with greater flexibility. Attendance at trade fairs and exhibitions worldwide may be required, which will allow you to mingle with like-minded individuals who share your passion for the industry. Business trips, shipyard visits and vessel inspections may all be part of your job description.
Salary can vary enormously from one company to the next, but you can expect a shore-based job will involve a reduction in your basic salary in the short term. A major factor of this will be because you will start paying tax, but you should take into account that there may be various benefits available, such as relocation costs/housing allowance/car provision/schooling etc. depending on the role and company. If you push and develop your career ashore, your potential salary should eclipse what you were earning as a seafarer.
If you are not considering moving shore-side for a number of years, then it would be wise practise to make financial provision for yourself for when you do. There will likely be incidental costs, and you may have to factor in the additional expense of daily commuting, but if you are prepared for this, it shouldn’t be too much of a shock!
You may enjoy rotations and the extended time you have off, but the chances are, on occasion, you have been absent from family engagements. While some shore based positions may not exactly follow the 9-5 rule, you can be certain of a more fixed timetable for your domestic and social life. Births, weddings and weekends spent with the family can be firmly placed on the calendar, and even during a working week, you will have your evenings to spend as you wish. A meal out, a cinema trip – all at the drop of a hat!
And last but not least…
It won’t be plain sailing. There will be a good deal of adjustment to be made, mentally as well as financially. An office environment and the mindset that comes with it will be a challenge if your best friend used to be a 2-stroke engine, but if you adequately prepare yourself, you can make the transition as smooth as possible, and embark on a new and rewarding career on shore.
Jenni Bardi Office Manager — Europe & Asia
Jenni is the office manager for Flagship Management’s European business and is responsible for the administration and financial activities for the company in Europe. Jenni has extensive experience running her own companies in the UK and Hong Kong and brings those skills to the Flagship operation. As well as handling day to day administrative activities Jenni is engaged in database management and company research supporting Flagship’s recruiters.