Merchant Navy vs. Shore Job | Which Career to Choose | 2023


  • In the vast world of the maritime industry, two distinct career paths beckon aspiring professionals: Merchant Navy Jobs and Ship to Shore Jobs, also known as onshore jobs. Each path offers unique opportunities, challenges, and rewards.
  • In this comprehensive blog, we’ll delve deep into the heart of these two career trajectories, helping you make an informed decision about your maritime career journey.

Exploring Merchant Navy Jobs

What are Merchant Navy Jobs?

Merchant Navy jobs involve working on commercial ships that transport goods and people across the world’s oceans and waterways. People who work in the Merchant Navy are responsible for various roles on these ships, such as operating and maintaining the vessel, navigating it, and ensuring the safe transportation of cargo or passengers.

Ranks In Merchant Navy Jobs

Ranks in Merchant Navy

Working in a job that demands high professionalism, especially with potential consequences for mishaps, the navy rank system plays a crucial role in ensuring smooth and efficient operations. This hierarchy establishes decorum, and a structured working framework, facilitates learning for newcomers, promotes healthy communication between different shipping departments, and much more.

It’s worth noting that specific nomenclature and responsibilities of ranks may vary depending on the flagship and shipping company. Generally, a ship’s operations are divided into three main departments: 

  • Deck department
  • Engine department
  • Catering department

Within these departments, tasks are further divided into two subdivisions: 

  • Officers
  •  Rating ranks

 ensuring the efficient completion of tasks onboard.

Feel free to check out our previously published in-depth blog about the roles and responsibilities within the Merchant Navy.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Merchant Navy Jobs

Advantages of Merchant Navy Jobs

  • An Early Financial Independence
  • Long Vacations
  • Enhanced Discipline and Professionalism
  • Tax-Free Income
  • Adventure and Travel Opportunities
  • Uniform and Respect
  • Temporary Seniors and colleagues

Disadvantages of Merchant Navy Jobs

  • Away From Home
  • No Immediate medical help 
  • Never Ending Exams
  • Social Life 
  • Piracy
  • Unpaid leave 

Check out our previously published blog on the Advantages and Disadvantages of Merchant Navy jobs.

Unveiling Onshore Jobs/ Ship to Shore jobs

What are Ship to Shore/ Onshore Jobs?

Marine Surveyor

Shore jobs often referred to as “Shore-based “or “Onshore” are jobs in the maritime and shipping industry that don’t require working on ships at sea. Instead, these jobs are on land, usually in offices, ports, or places near the water. Shore jobs handle different parts of the maritime industry.

Roles in OnShore jobs

Chief Engineer sharing Knowledge with Cadets

The maritime industry has many different jobs that are important for global shipping and trade. These jobs help make sure everything runs smoothly. Let’s take a look at some of the different jobs in this industry, like managing ports and dealing with logistics.

  • Port Management

 Port managers are responsible for overseeing the daily operations of a port. They ensure that ships are loaded and unloaded efficiently, manage port facilities and infrastructure, and coordinate with various stakeholders, including customs, immigration, and shipping companies.

  • Marine Surveyors

Marine surveyors inspect ships, cargo, and marine equipment to assess their condition, safety, and compliance with industry regulations. Their reports are crucial for insurance purposes and for ensuring the seaworthiness of vessels.

  • Safety Inspectors

 Safety inspectors ensure that ships and maritime facilities comply with safety regulations. They conduct inspections and audits to prevent accidents and ensure the safety of crew members and cargo.

  • Marine Engineers

 Marine engineers are responsible for the design, development, and maintenance of equipment and infrastructure used in the maritime industry, including docks, piers, and shipyard facilities.

  • Professors

Professors in onshore jobs bring their extensive knowledge and experience to the classroom. They educate and train the next generation of maritime professionals, passing on essential skills and industry insights.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ship-to-Shore Jobs

Port Authorities Working Onshore

Advantages of Onshore Jobs

  • Lower Risk

Shore jobs generally involve fewer physical risks and exposure to the elements compared to working at sea, enhancing safety and well-being.

  • Family Life

Shore jobs allow for more consistent and extended periods at home, making it easier to maintain relationships with family and friends.

  • Educational Opportunities

Onshore professionals can engage in continuous learning, attend industry seminars, and even teach and mentor the next generation of maritime workers.

  • Financial Stability

Shore jobs often come with more predictable income and financial stability, reducing the uncertainty associated with contract-based sea jobs.

  • Local Living and Emergency presence 

Onshore work often means living in or near your desired location, eliminating the need for extended stays away from home. You’ll be there along with your family in every bunch of happiness and trace of sadness.

  • Continuous Personal Learnings 

Onshore roles often provide access to ongoing training and educational programs, allowing professionals to expand their knowledge and skills in various maritime specialties.

Disadvantages of Onshore Jobs

  • Lower Earning Potential

Transitioning to an onshore position may result in a lower income compared to roles at sea, especially for experienced ship captains or officers.

This difference in earning potential can be a significant disadvantage for those seeking higher financial rewards.

  • Competitive Nature

Onshore positions can be highly competitive, especially for managerial and specialized roles, requiring individuals to work hard to secure and maintain their positions.

  • Limited Adventure

Onshore positions lack the excitement and adventure associated with life at sea, which may be a downside for those who crave the thrill of seafaring.

  • Workload Pressures

Depending on the role, onshore professionals may experience high workloads and demanding schedules, especially during peak shipping seasons. It’s still concerning that you won’t be really able to give time to your family.

  • Different Challenges

Onshore professionals face unique challenges, such as managing complex logistics, dealing with regulatory compliance, and navigating administrative responsibilities.

A Side by Side Comparison

Port authorities and captain having discussion

Navigating your career path in the maritime industry requires considering several key factors. Let’s take an in-depth look at the differences between onshore and sea-based roles to help you make an informed decision:

Salary and Compensation: Who Earns More?

  • Sea-Based Roles

Jobs at sea, especially those of higher ranks like captains and chief engineers, often come with higher earning potential compared to onshore positions. These roles typically receive additional benefits like overtime pay and allowances, making them financially rewarding.

  • Onshore Roles

While onshore jobs offer stability and other advantages, they generally have a lower earning potential compared to sea-based roles. Salary levels can vary depending on the specific position, location, and company, but they tend to be more consistent and predictable.

Work-Life Balance: Sea Life vs. Onshore Routine

  • Sea-Based Roles

Life at sea often involves long stretches away from home, which can strain personal relationships and limit time spent with family and friends. Work schedules at sea follow a rotational pattern, with alternating periods of work and leave, allowing for extended time off during vacation.

  • Onshore Roles

Onshore jobs usually offer better work-life balance. Professionals in these roles typically work regular hours, allowing for more predictable daily routines and more time spent with loved ones. This stability can contribute to a more comfortable family life.

Job Security and Career Progression

  • Sea-Based Roles

Job security at sea can be influenced by factors such as the economic climate, industry demand, and the availability of positions. Career progression often involves moving up the ranks through experience and acquiring additional certifications.

  • Onshore Roles

Onshore positions tend to offer more stable job security. These roles are essential for the maritime industry’s overall functioning, and professionals often have opportunities for career advancement, specialization, and additional education or training.

Choosing between sea-based and onshore roles in the maritime industry involves careful consideration of your priorities and preferences. Sea-based roles often provide higher earning potential and adventure but come with challenges related to work-life balance. Onshore positions offer stability, better work-life balance, and opportunities for career progression, but may involve a trade-off in terms of salary. Your choice should align with your career goals, lifestyle preferences, and personal values.


In the maritime industry, the choice between sea-based and onshore careers is a pivotal decision, laden with unique advantages and challenges. Whether you seek the thrill of the open sea, the stability of a shore-based routine, or a balance between both, your path in this dynamic industry should reflect your individual aspirations and lifestyle priorities.

In the coming blogs, we’ll delve deeper into the maritime world, addressing essential topics such as the right time to transition from ship to shore. We’ll provide guidance to help you navigate these career choices with confidence and clarity. Stay tuned for more insights as we continue to explore the maritime industry’s vast and fascinating landscape.

Disclaimer :- The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Merchant Navy Decoded. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided and disclaim any responsibility for it. Data and visuals used are sourced from publicly available information and may not be authenticated by any regulatory body. Reviews and comments appearing on our blogs represent the opinions of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of Merchant Navy Decoded. We are not responsible for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on these reviews or comments.

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[…] case you missed it, we’ve previously published a blog titled “Merchant Navy vs. Shore Job | Making the Career Choice.” Feel free to visit and explore it for valuable insights into choosing the right career […]

[…] gain a comprehensive understanding of the distinctions between merchant navy and onshore careers, you can review our earlier blog, which provides valuable insights into the reasons why onshore job […]