Joining Merchant Navy is never an easy decision to take. Family members, as well as outsiders, jump into your head citing only the disadvantages of joining the merchant navy profession.

So first and foremost you must know all the details about this profession before taking admission to any such courses.

One of the biggest accomplishments in India is to finish one’s 12th board exams. Obviously, there are a lot of pressures and expectations for one to excel academically and enter the field that will best suit one’s career goals.

Every person at this stage of life dreams big about a job that takes her to new places and pays well at the end.

These days are dynamic and offer many options. Many people are keen to start their own business or entrepreneurship. However, it is difficult to launch a startup so early in your life.

If you ask any seafarer, they will tell you how it ignites curiosity and respect in those not in the industry. In addition, they’ll tell you that answering those questions brings them great joy, joy in the appreciation they receive from people on the street. It’s true that a career at sea sets one apart, and deservedly so.

This is a popular career choice in India, but not much information is available about it. It is usually necessary to consult someone who is familiar with the maritime industry before making the right decision with regard to the choice, eligibility for entry, and any other qualifications required for entry into the merchant marine.

Sometimes we are impressed with someone’s cars, bikes, and lifestyle. We think after getting such a job our lifestyle will be also such. But just keep in mind, it comes with so many sacrifices and struggles that are not visible to outsiders who are not from this profession.

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 The following are the course options that may be pursued in order to join the merchant navy after Class 12th:

Merchant Navy Courses after completing 12th

To join the catering department after Class X or XII

  1. Maritime Catering Course (6 Months)
  2. BSc in Marine Catering (3 Years)

To join as a Rating after Class X or XII

  1. Pre Sea GP Rating Course (6 Months

To join as an Engineer 

  1. BE/B Tech Marine Engineering (4 Years)

To join as a Deck Officer after class XII

  1. BSc Nautical Science (3 Years)
  2. Diploma in Nautical Science (Leads to a BSc Nautical Science. Duration is 1 year)

The following are the options available to students after Class XII for the merchant navy. The list is not exhaustive and new options may become available with the growing demands of the industry.

There were previously multiple options and criteria for enrolling in these courses at different universities across India. However, since the Indian Maritime University was founded, most of the courses have come under its purview. As a result, all the courses under one standardized system are now awarded through the IMU. Different courses had conflicting validity and acceptability issues, which have now been resolved. On the IMU website, you will find information about important dates and the timetable for the examinations that are required for admission. 

The link to the IMU site is as follows:

As a result of their performance on the IMU Common Entrance Test (CET), candidates are accepted into the various campuses of IMU and its affiliated institutions. For registration and information on the exam, as well as the application form for the merchant navy in 2022 (which is not yet available), visit the above-mentioned website.

Eligibility to join the Merchant Navy


For merchant navy exams, a candidate must be 17 years of age, or at most 25 years of age. According to government regulations, the maximum age relaxation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is five years. 


A career at sea requires a high level of physical fitness. A certificate of fitness from a licensed physician must be obtained before enrolling in any course. Disabled persons are not eligible to apply for admission to merchant navy courses. As such, this does not really have anything to do with discrimination since it is crucial to be capable in performing the duties aboard a merchant ship.


6/12 in each eye or 6/9 in better eye and 6/18 in other eyes for distant unaided vision. Color blindness, flat feet and knock knees in any case are absolutely NOT PERMITTED. 

The merchant navy accepts both men and women. In fact, we encourage female candidates. When individuals enroll in the course they should be single. Applicants must ensure that the board chosen for Class XII and Class X in some cases is a Government of India-recognized board.

Just for the sake of caution, I would like to add few lines for female candidates. Although government encourages the female applicants to join the merchant navy but personally I know a few of them who are struggling to get jobs in shipping companies except few renowned companies.

For officer grade, a minimum of 50% in English is required, and an aggregate score of 60% in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. In terms of scores, the requirements are different for crew with a requirement of 40% marks in English in the Xth and XIIth and a 40% aggregate in English, Mathematics, and Sciences in the Xth and any stream for the XIIth board.

The above is also true for those interested in joining the catering department on the ship. The criteria for eligibility may differ with different institutes, so it is recommended to visit the website of the desired institute for more information about admission requirements for the desired program. But as per my knowledge the criteria same in all institutes in India. If you are doing courses abroad then you have to check with the institutions.

There are a number of courses now offered through IMU or other institutes, but it is imperative to check the legitimacy of these institutions since a lot of fraudulent agencies and companies out there try to take advantage of those seeking career opportunities in this field.

Some institutes also make promises about placements that should not be taken as guarantees for employment; there is a huge difference between 100% placement assistance and 100% placement, so you should check the details before you sign up with an institute.

Despite the constant demand for manpower in the shipping industry, deciding whether to join the industry depends on being aware of its current situation. Prior to jumping into merchant navy job prospects, it is important to understand that employment is more challenging than it used to be.



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