There are many things one considers in pursuing a career. The cost of living in the Maldives often forces us to rank the salary as the highest priority, followed closely by passion, developmental opportunities and societal expectations. For most of us, when we think of the sea, we think of adventurous dives, beachside picnics and fishing trips with friends and family. Undeniably, most of us grow up with fond and fun memories of the sea – not surprising considering that 90 per cent of our nation is water.
So why not put them together and pursue a career at sea?
The career of a marine pilot tick all the right boxes, from lucrative salaries of over 50,000, to the added incentive of saving up for a few years at sea without the heavy burden of renting in the city, and moving ashore with a considerable safety net for investment. Moreover, it is a career path paved in a well-developed field with scholarship opportunities open from companies such as Maldives State Shipping (MSS).
The Exciting Career of Marine Pilots
In layman’s terms, a marine pilot manoeuvres ships through perilous conditions such as congested harbours or narrow river mouths. This requires immense skill in handling ships of all sizes and types, as well as in-depth knowledge of waterways including currents and hazards. Their role is to guide vessels safely and expeditiously through their area, ensuring the safety of the environment, people, and trade.
Strictly speaking, marine pilots are not considered to be part of the ship’s crew. Marine pilots, generally, travel on their special charter craft which is also known as a pilot boarding vessel, used to board the ship they’re to control. This charter craft could be a helicopter or another boat, both of which come with their hazards, further adding to the regard and esteem marine pilots are held to in the maritime community.
While the Captain of the ship generally handles navigation, when any situation where greater skill or expertise is required to manoeuvre, such as while arriving at or departing from a port, the marine pilots assume command with the Captain’s blessing. It is the marine pilot that advises on the routes to take and the changes to make to ensure the ship passes through without incident whilst protecting the marine life and habitat in the area.
So how does one go about becoming a marine pilot and do you have what it takes?
The requirement to board vessels at sea means that a Marine Pilot needs to be reasonably fit, and comfortable working on the water and with heights. Due to the nature of the work, many pilots have previously worked as a Ship’s Officer or Master, but will require a minimum experience of two years to qualify, and would generally need to be fairly knowledgeable of the area they operate in. Graduates strong in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, and performing well on a written examination and interview will make the recruitment process easier for fresh graduates. In such cases, trainees remain on probation, the period of which varies from place to place.
While it may seem to the outside eye to be less flashy than some other careers, marine pilots are highly responsible and fill a difficult, demanding, and dangerous position. The compensation and rewards are equally lucrative as well. In addition to this, they are highly respected and considered an elite among marine professionals.
SO WHY WAIT? THE SEA IS CALLING!