How to Become a Marine Pilot?

The Merchant Navy offers a plethora of opportunities at sea and offshore. The skill set acquired at sea can be translated into professions such as that of a Marine Pilot. A Marine Pilot is generally an Ex-Master Mariner tasked with assisting a Vessel and its Master to enter and depart a particular Berth, Jetty, or Pier. 

Let’s talk in detail about the Job of a Marine Pilot, the Salary in the Merchant Navy, the Skills required to apply for a Marine Pilot job, and the ways to apply. If you want to more about the Marine Pilot Job then check out our free Merchant Navy Ship to Shore Guidance Series to have a complete information about Marine Pilot and opportunities.

Ship to Shore Guidance Series

1:- Marine Pilot Job

Marine Pilot
  • A Marine Pilot is generally an ex-Master mariner who serves as a guide or an advisor to the Master of a Vessel when she comes or departs a specific port.
  • He/She is specially trained to know about the special areas of their respective ports and is skilled at properly communicating with local authorities and small vessels.
  • Most Master Mariners choose to opt for a Pilot onboard as it makes their jobs easier. Marine Pilots are most advantageous in places like China, where clear communication is a major challenge.
  • Essentially a Marine Pilot does the same job that he/she would have done on a typical vessel. The only difference is that he does it for a shorter duration, for several vessels, and with the added benefit of staying on land with his/her family.
  • Mostly work schedules are irregular and they are on call 24/7 following periods of rest after each job. Marine Pilots are mostly paid on a ship-to-ship basis.

1.1:- Duties of a Marine Pilot

Here, we have discussed some of the bullet point duties of a Marine Pilot:

  1. Showcase competent behavior and obey orders of authorities.
  2. Obtain and produce a certificate of services provided by him/her.
  3. Pilots should go onboard vessels in good time.
  4. Pilots should check the condition of the vessel’s equipment.
  5. Pilots should acquaint themselves with the vessel’s characteristics
  6. Report casualties
  7. Report any alteration of navigational marks
  8. Pilots have the right to deny services to a vessel if it poses a danger to life or the environment.
  9. Ensure adequate bridge manning levels and the presence of a Master

1.2:- Advantages and Disadvantages of a Marine Pilot Job

Advantage and Disadvantage of a Marine Pilot
AdvantagesDisadvantages
Staying on Land and Spending Time with Family
Better Social Life
Good Pay
Better Travelling Opportunities
Almost direct use of acquired skill sets as a Master
Risk to Life in Bad Weather
Taxable Income(in Home Country
Irregular Work Hours.
More Physically Challenging

2:- Who can Become a Marine Pilot?

The eligibility criteria to apply for a Marine Pilot Job can differ from port to port and company to company. Private ports may have some different requirements for Marine Pilots

We have listed the basic requirements that can be applied to almost all ports in India:

2.1:- Qualification Required to be a Marine Pilot

  • Must hold a Certificate of Competency as Master (FG) issued by the Ministry of Shipping, Govt. of India or an equivalent qualification recognized by the Director General of Shipping, Govt. of India.
  • One year post-qualification experience as Master/Chief Officer of a foreign going ship. 

2.2:- Upper Age limit

  • 55 years, subject to physical fitness certified by the Chief Medical Officer. 
  • Some Ports may accept Officers lower than the Master rank, like the Kolkata Port. In most cases, you will need a Master’s COC and some experience to become a Marine Pilot.
  • Some ports may also recruit B.Sc Nautical Pass out cadets and train them to become Marine Pilots.

3:- Maritime Pilot Salary

The salary of a Marine Pilot in India depends largely on the type of port you are joining. Essentially, a Marine Pilot in India can join any of the two categories of Ports:

  1. Governmental or Public Ports
  2. Private Ports.

Salary of Marine Pilots is also a Function of the Experience. Just like in the Merchant Navy, experienced Pilots earn more.  

Sr No.Type of PortExpected Salary Range
1Government or Public Ports₹20,000- ₹1,50,000 ( Experience Based)
2Private Ports₹2,00,000- ₹5,00,000

The salaries of Marine Pilots are taxable as you would not have NRI Status. Based on your income, you will have to pay tax according to your tax slab. You may get NRI Status if you work as a Marine Pilot in some Foreign Port.

4:- Skills required to become a Marine Pilot

The following are some of the skills required to become a professional Marine Pilot:

  1. Effective Communication Skills
  2. Decision-Making Skills
  3. Emergency Situation Handling and Situational Awareness
  4. Bridge Resource Management Skills.
  5. Facilitating Smooth Master-Pilot Exchange
  6. Medical Fitness as per DG Shipping Standards
  7. Updated Knowledge and Practical Working of Bridge Equipments.
  8. Knowledge of Meteorological Conditions, Traffic Density, Tide Patterns, etc of the respective working sea area.

5:- How to Become a Marine Pilot in India?

Steps to become a Marine Pilot

We have shared the general process of becoming a Marine pilot in India. In Major Ports, except Kolkata port, the process is uniform and governed under the Major Ports Trust Act, of 1963.

Step 1: Monitor Your Nearest Port’s Website for Vacancies.

All Government ports roll out Marine Pilot vacancies from time to time. Make sure that you keep an eye on the latest vacancies and apply as soon as it appears

Step 2: Entry Level Pilot Training

The Pilots shall undergo entry-level training for 15 days at the Indian Maritime University or any other Institute as the government decides.

Step 3: Practical Training or On-Job Training at the Port

These include on-the-job training in real scenarios under the supervision of senior pilots.

Step 4: Pass Probationary Examination

Generally, 3 attempts are allowed to pass the competent examination. Upon successfully passing the exam, the pilot may be called a Probationary Pilot

The Examination committee consists of the following:

  1. Deputy Conservator- Chairman
  2. Harbour Master – Member
  3. Dock Master/ Senior-most Pilot- Member
  4. An Independent Master Mariner- Mariner

Step 5: Competent Pilotage Licensing Authority issues a Pilot license

  • After receiving the Pilot License, probationary training is imparted to the pilot for at least 6 Months. 
  • A minimum of 24 Months of training is required to handle vessels of unrestricted tonnage.
  • Pilots are required to show continual competence and are subjected to such verification every 5 years.

6:- Conclusion:

  • A Marine Pilot’s Job is a challenging, yet rewarding profession in the Merchant Navy.
  • If you are a Marine Pilot, you will be able to enjoy the thrill of navigating vessels on the High Seas, with the added benefit of being closer to your Family. The job provides greater social-life balance.
  • The Earning potential in a Marine Pilot’s Job profile is quite promising but it cannot be compared to what a Master onboard Merchant Vessels earn. The deciding factor in choosing Pilotage as a profession ultimately boils down to being closer to your family and having a better work-life balance. 

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