After suffering a steep drop in activity that followed the Great Recession of 2008, the maritime industry is seeing growth again. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, global seaborne trade reached an all-time high of 9 billion metric tons in 2012. The growth in trade equates to a growth in maritime jobs.
Thomas Crowley, CEO of Crowley Maritime said in an interview with CNBC “Our plan is to hire 500-600 maritime workers over the next five years.”
Crowley Maritime, the family-owned company based in Jacksonville, Florida, will have some competition as it sets out to build a 5,000 person workforce. In 2010, the International Maritime organization forecast that the maritime labor industry could be short as many as 27,000 to 46,000 officers to man the thousands of tankers, freight barges, cargo ships, and tugboats out on the seas over the next few years.
There is a key reason for the current shortage in employees to fill maritime jobs- the energy boom.
“When the oil industry is doing well, you end up with shortages in the maritime industry,” said Bart Rogers, the assistant Vice President for the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training, a trade school associated with the Seafarers International Union.
As the demand for ships to move increasingly higher volumes of crude oil and natural gas across the globe increases, the maritime industry faces an unforeseen challenge, their workforce is aging. Slowly but surely, the captains and commanding officers of the world’s fleet are nearing the age of retirement, and replacing them with qualified candidates has become more difficult. Since the 2010 Manila Convention, new regulations have been in place mandating all hands on deck, or below, need added training and more days at sea. This means it will take a lot longer for an employee to move up the ladder from a deckhand to one of the more lucrative skilled positions such as chief engineer, captain, or first, second, and third mate.
With the enormous demand for these positions to be filled, there is a greater need for maritime recruitment agencies to find candidates ready and able to work in the field. The booming industry offers plenty of opportunities for those seeking employment. Those looking to enter the workforce again can find prospective employers through a maritime recruitment agency. Since many maritime jobs require their employees to be away from home for weeks to months at a time, there are many temporary positions available.
However, earning your throne in the captain’s chair is something that takes time. Getting qualified to work on a vessel requires training in first aid, rescue and survival, firefighting and all the basics of operating a ship. The three month program requires you to log 1,080 days on a vessel before you can apply for the licensing programs required to move into the officer ranks.
In general, maritime jobs pay very well. An entry level, able bodied seaman can earn between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. A fully trained engineer or mate, mid-tiered positions within the ship, can pull in between $70,000 and $90,000 a year. If you work hard enough to become a captain, you can easily earn yourself a six figure salary with lucrative time off.
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