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The seafaring profession: key skills and requirements

Mariner Profession: Key Skills and Requirements | AVANT

Table of Contents

The seafaring profession is not just a job, it is a way of life. It requires not only professional skills and knowledge, but also physical endurance, teamwork, the ability to adapt quickly to changing conditions and the ability to remain calm in extreme situations. 

In this article we will look in detail at the key skills and requirements of the seafarer’s profession.

Education and qualifications

Education and qualifications are fundamental requirements for a career in the maritime industry. In many countries, including Ukraine, seafarers are required to have the appropriate education and qualifications as recognized by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW). This document, adopted in 1978, establishes minimum education, training and work experience requirements for seafarers in the merchant navy.

It is important to realize that a seafarer’s education and training does not end with a diploma or certificate. A career at sea requires continuous learning and development. New technologies, regulatory changes, and improved work practices all require updating knowledge and skills. Many maritime companies and educational institutions offer continuing education and professional development programs for seafarers.

Moreover, the level of education and qualifications a seafarer needs will depend on their role on board. For example, a ship’s captain should have a higher level of education and experience than a sailor. Some positions may require specialized skills or knowledge, for example in navigation, mechanics, electronics or medicine.

Education and qualifications thus play a key role in preparing a seafarer for his or her duties. This not only helps to ensure safe and efficient shipboard operations, but also provides seafarers with opportunities for career growth and development.

Skills and competencies

The skills and abilities required of a seafarer are quite varied and depend on the role they fulfill on board ship. All seafarers, regardless of their position, must possess certain basic skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking and the ability to solve problems quickly. These skills are vital to the safety and efficiency of the ship’s operations.

However, in addition to these general skills, seafarers must also possess specialized skills that depend on their specific role on the ship. For example, a captain or assistant captain must have in-depth knowledge of navigation, meteorology and maritime law. Mechanics must have knowledge of mechanics, electronics and engineering. Cooks must know the basics of food preparation and sanitation. At the same time, all seafarers should know the basics of first aid and rescue.

It is important to point out that in a world where technology is constantly evolving, seafarers must be prepared to continuously learn and develop their skills. New technologies such as automated navigation, remote control and digital control systems may require additional training and skill development.

Finally, a mariner’s skills are not limited to technical aspects. Maritime work often requires long periods of time away from home and can be psychologically challenging. Therefore, the importance of stress management skills, communication skills and maintaining healthy relationships with colleagues on board cannot be underestimated.

Moral and psychological qualities

The importance of moral and psychological qualities for a seafarer cannot be overemphasized. Life at sea often presents a complex psychological challenge. Isolation from family and friends, long stays away from home, difficult working conditions and sometimes extreme situations all require resilience and psychological preparedness.

The essential qualities that every seafarer should possess include:

  • Stress tolerance

This is a key quality for a seafarer. Stress can manifest itself in various forms, including physical fatigue, emotional exhaustion, feelings of loneliness or depression. The ability to cope with stress and remain calm even in the most difficult situations is crucial to successful performance of duties.

  • Communication skills

Life aboard ship involves constant communication with crew members. Effective communication helps to ensure smooth operations and avoid conflicts. In addition, communication skills can be critical in emergency situations.

  • Adaptability

The sea can be unpredictable, and seafarers often have to adapt quickly to changing conditions. From changing weather conditions to unforeseen equipment problems, flexibility and the ability to make quick decisions are valuable qualities.

  • Discipline

The importance of following rules and procedures on board a vessel cannot be understated. Discipline helps to ensure the safety of everyone on board and the efficient performance of duties.

  • Empathy

The ability to understand and share the feelings of other crew members helps to create a positive and trusting work environment.

Continuous learning and development

In a rapidly changing world, continuous learning and development is an important part of any professional’s professional development, including maritime activities. Technological advances, changes in international maritime laws and regulations, and constantly evolving safety and environmental practices require seafarers to constantly update and expand their knowledge and skills.

Let’s take a closer look at the areas that are important to pay attention to:

  1. Technical training

Modern ships are becoming increasingly technologically advanced, and as such, seafarers need to regularly update their technical knowledge and skills. Training can include everything from new navigation and automated control systems to the latest safety technology.

  1. Professional development

In addition to technical skills (Hard skills), seafarers also benefit from continually developing and improving their soft skills, which include communication, conflict management and stress tolerance. These skills help to create a more efficient and harmonious workplace on board.

  1. Knowledge of legislation

Maritime legislation is constantly changing and evolving. Seafarers need to keep up to date with the latest changes in international and national laws and standards to ensure that their actions on board ship are fully compliant with the law.

  1. Safety and the environment

Maritime incidents can have serious consequences for both people and the environment. It is therefore important that seafarers keep their safety and environmental knowledge up to date.

All this makes continuous training and development an important part of a seafarer’s career. It helps professionals to remain competitive in the labor market, ensure safe and efficient shipboard operations and contribute to their personal and professional growth.

In conclusion, we would like to emphasize that the seafarer’s profession requires a comprehensive approach to training and constant striving for improvement. Only compliance with all key requirements and continuous development will help a seafarer to successfully fulfill his/her duties and be at his/her best in any conditions.