Merchant Navy or Airline Pilot |Which Career Path to Choose?|

  • In today’s world of global transportation, two prestigious career paths stand out: the Merchant Navy and Airline Pilots. These professions not only navigate us across the seas and skies but also offer unique experiences and challenges. While both involve commanding large vessels, whether Merchant Navy or Airline Pilot, their journeys, responsibilities, and lifestyles differ significantly. 
  • Join us as we delve into the exciting worlds of the Merchant Navy and Airline Pilots, comparing the high seas to the high skies, to help you understand the key distinctions between these two captivating careers. 
  • Whether you’re considering a life at sea or in the air, this blog will help you weigh your options and set your course for a thrilling voyage in either profession.
Container Vessel
Merchant NavyCommercial Airline Pilot 
The Merchant Navy is a civilian fleet of ships and the people who work on them. 
These ships are responsible for transporting goods and cargo across the world’s seas and oceans.
A commercial airline pilot is a highly trained and certified professional responsible for flying commercial aircraft, such as passenger planes, for airlines. 
They operate flights to transport passengers and cargo safely and efficiently from one destination to another. 

Courses and Fees 

Merchant Navy 


Diploma Nautical Science 
5-8 Lakhs
B.Sc Nautical Science6-17 Lakhs
B.Tech Marine Engineering 9-12 Lakhs
Graduate Marine Engineering 6-8 Lakhs

Please note that the fees mentioned above may vary depending on whether the institution is government-funded or privately operated. 

Commercial Pilot 

Airline Pilot
  • Commercial Pilot License Training (CPL)

Commercial Pilot License (CPL) training in India typically costs 35-40 lakhs.

Short training courses in India range from 15-20 lakhs.

  • When considering training abroad

CPL training abroad can cost between 50-75 lakhs.

Short training courses abroad range from 20-25 lakhs.

  • For a comprehensive training program with Indigo:

The full training program may cost around 1.25 crores.


Merchant Navy

RankDry ship (Bulk/RO-RO/Container etc.)Tanker Ship (Oil/Chemical/Gas etc.)
Chief Officer$6500–$8500$7500–$9500
2nd Officer$4000–$4800$4000–$5000
3rd Officer$2400–$3600$2600–$4200
Deck Cadet$350–$750$350–$750
Chief Marine Engineer$8000–$10000$9000–$14000
2nd Marine Engineer$6500–$8500$7500–$9500
3rd Marine Engineer$4000–$4800$4000–$5000
4th Marine Engineer$2400–$3600$2600–$4200
5th Marine Engineer$350–$750$350–$750
Electro-Technical Officer$2500–$4500$3500–$5000

Careers In the Merchant Navy: A Sea Of Opportunities For You

Airline Pilot

Rank Salary 
Senior 1st Officer₹3,000,000-₹3,50,000
1st Officer₹2,00,000-₹2,50,000
Junior 1st Officer ₹1,25,000

Airline Pilot in a Cockpit

Merchant Navy Advantages and Disadvantages

Similarities Between Merchant Navy and Commerical Airline Pilot 

Medical Certificate Requirements:

  • Merchant Navy Officers: Mandatory medical certification before joining every ship.
  • Commercial Pilots: Required to undergo medical assessments every six months to maintain flight eligibility.

Examination for Selection and Promotion:

  • Merchant Navy Officers: Must pass examinations for career advancement and promotions.
  • Airline Pilots: Need to successfully complete exams to obtain licenses and progress in their careers.

Unpredictable Schedules:

  • Both professions entail high levels of risk and stress due to irregular and unpredictable work schedules, often involving long hours and time away from home.

Safety Checklist Adherence:

  • Strict adherence to safety checklists is a common practice in both the Merchant Navy and commercial aviation to ensure proper procedures are followed for the safety of passengers, crew, and cargo.


Cockpit view

Comparison |Merchant Navy vs. Commercial Pilot|

AspectMerchant NavyCommercial Pilot
Income (Annual)– During sea time: 8-10 lakhs (tax-free for 6 months)– Salary: 6-7 lakhs (approx.) after tax
– Total annual income: 60 lakhs (tax-free)– Total annual income: 60 lakhs (approx.)
Work Duration– Not required to work the full year– Need to work the full year
Lifestyle– Limited social life, extended time away from family– Enjoy a good social life, regular family contact
Residence– Can stay at hometown when not on the job– Frequent relocation required
Financial Investment– Generally, lower financial investment required– Significant investment in training and licenses
Decision Making– Decision-making is often slower– Typically faster decision-making process
Vacation– More vacation time available– Limited vacation time compared to Merchant Navy

Please note that these are general comparisons, and individual experiences may vary depending on specific job roles, companies, and personal preferences.



In conclusion, the Merchant Navy and commercial pilot careers represent two distinct yet captivating paths in transportation. While both involve navigating vast expanses, they offer unique lifestyles, challenges, and rewards.

Merchant Navy can bring in good money during sea time, lets you choose when to work, and allows you to stay in your hometown when off-duty. However, it means being away from family for long periods, having limited social life, and sometimes taking more time for decisions.

Commercial pilot jobs offer financial stability, a social life, and regular family time. But they require a big investment in training, frequent moving, and less vacation.

In the end, it’s about what suits your lifestyle and goals. Whether you choose to sail or fly, both careers offer unique opportunities in the world of travel and trade. Decide based on what’s most important to you.

How to Become a Pilot | How I Left the Merchant Navy to Become a Pilot| 

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Cdt. Pallav

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