Did you know that the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie almost went straight to DVD release? Ironically, it sparked what has become one of Disney’s most successful franchises ever.
Sadly, the days of swashbuckling pirates and an exciting life on the open seas are over — or are they?
Marine employment may look a little different than it did in the 1600s. You’re may not be able to join Jack Sparrow’s crew on a voyage from Tortuga. But the truth is that there are still millions of people worldwide who work as sailors and deck crew.
Are you wondering how to become a sailor and land a job on a sea-going vessel? Here are some helpful tips to aid you in your journey.
Research Marine Employment Options
First of all, where do you see yourself working while you’re out at sea? There are ships and crews of every size for countless businesses and organizations. Where would you fit in best?
Some common job options and paths for sailors include:
- Cargo ships
- Passenger cruise ships
- Privately-owned yachts or sailboats
- U.S. Navy
- U.S. Coast Guard
- Merchant Marines
Keep in mind that working on a sea-going vessel means you’ll be spending long periods of time away from home. Of course, you’ll get to visit exciting places along the way, but make sure you’re mentally and emotionally ready for the demands of the lifestyle.
If you take an entry-level position on a ship, chances are you’ll be doing a lot of menial tasks. Deck crew is responsible for jobs like scrubbing, cleaning, cooking, and routine maintenance. The harder you work, the quicker you’ll advance through the ranks.
At the very least, you’ll need to know how to sail (and have certifications to prove it). You’ll want to gain skills in fire safety, welding, carpentry, and first aid. You’ll also want to study related topics like navigation, weather patterns, and sea currents.
Bonus tip: Don’t limit yourself to researching sailing techniques and ship specs. You should also learn about popular customs and culture of seafarers, such as sailor tattoos meanings.
Go to School or Get an Entry-Level Position
Most sailors begin their careers one of two ways.
The first option is to enroll in a maritime training school for a formal seafaring education. Of course, if you plan to join the Coast Guard or the Navy, this will be included in your curriculum.
Otherwise, you’ll need to use your previous knowledge and current certifications to snag an entry-level job on a smaller vessel. Working as part of a deck crew for a few months is the perfect way to “test the waters” (pardon the pun) and see if a maritime career is right for you.
How to Become a Sailor: Now You Know
The sky and the sea are the limits when it comes to marine employment. Whether you work on a tanker ship, a passenger ship, or a private vessel, there’s nothing to stop you from living life on the open seas.