Starting salaries upon qualification for junior officers are: £25,000 - £27,000.
Training salaries for cadets are: £7,000 - £15,000 with all tuition and on-board food and accommodation included. Shore-based accommodation costs are deducted.
Progression up to the rank of captain or chief engineer can lead to salaries ranging from £36,000 to £60,000, depending upon the type and size of ship. Salaries on foreign-going ships (i.e. at least 183 days per year out of the UK) may be tax free.
Qualification as a Merchant Navy officer can lead to opportunities throughout the marine industry.
Work is based at sea, on board ships that operate year-round. Shifts are usually four hours 'on watch' and eight hours 'off'. Although extensive travel is part of the job, opportunities to go onshore can be limited due to ship-board responsibilities and rapid turnaround times in port.
Living conditions whilst on board are usually of a high standard, with good leisure and other facilities. Due to such close living and working conditions, being able to work well within a team is important.
Weather conditions may make working uncomfortable, for instance the heat of the Persian Gulf in summer or the North Atlantic in a winter gale.
An increasing number of female officers are working in the Merchant Navy at all levels.
The long periods of time spent away at sea can have a major impact on family life, hobbies and interests. However, most companies provide a generous holiday allowance on a one-for-one basis, for example two-months' paid leave after a two-month voyage. Tour lengths vary from company to company.
Merchant Navy officers are subject to the Merchant Shipping Act. The Act sets strict limits on blood-alcohol levels, and drugs are forbidden. Random testing for alcohol or drug abuse is common.
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