Thinking About a New Shoreside Career? New Report Finds Reality is Not What You Think

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February 20, 2013

So you have worked at sea your entire career and are thinking about coming ashore, but you’re not sure what to expect or even where to start.

What sort of career paths are available? Where do the best opportunities lie? Do ex-seafarers make good office workers? How much money will you make? These are just a few of a number of questions addressed in a new report by Faststream, the UK-based maritime industry recruitment firm.

In the report, titled “Perception vs. Reality”, Faststream surveyed 2,000 maritime industry professionals, including over 600 seafarers. Here is a breakdown of what was found:


While 85% of all seafarers will remain at sea for the majority of their working lives and never make the transition from sea to shore, the survey shows that seafarers are far more attracted by the professions to which they have had some contact in their day to day work. Career paths such as operations manager, surveyor, and fleet manager proved to be much more attractive to seafarers coming ashore than a career in insurance, law, or even sales.

Image courtesy Faststream
Image courtesy Faststream

One the other hand, the report showed that 92% shoreside workers think it’s at least quite important to have ex-seafarers in the office, while 35% say it’s vital.

The report notes that it is important that for companies in areas of the maritime business that are less obvious and less visible to the average seafarer, but are looking for ex-seafarers to fill some of their key positions, they need understand that they cannot assume that seafarers have a rounded view of how the international shipping industry fits together and what their company actually does. When marketing their positions to seafarers seeking to come ashore, Faststream says, those responsible for recruitment need to understand that a large part of finding the right people is about marketing the company and then clearly and carefully explaining the opportunities that it offers.


Think that shoreside position you have your eye on will mean a pay cut? Think again…

Faststream asked seafarers what they thought starting salaries were for an officer with 10 to 15 years of experience coming ashore in a variety of professions. Responses found that most of them hugely underestimated what starting salaries might be in almost every profession.

Image courtesy Faststream
Image courtesy Faststream


“The sentiment amongst shore-based professionals seems firmly in the favour of the East, with Singapore a clear winner when asked where the best opportunities would be in the future,” Faststream says in the report.

Image courtesy Faststream
Image courtesy Faststream

But how do salaries in the U.S. compare to those in Asia for same position? Turns out the answer may surprise you.

“There’s a large misconception about salary levels in Asia. The perception of European and USA based workers about pay in Asia was furthest away from the reality,” Faststream says.

Yes, salaries are higher in the USA, however it is the perception of Asian salaries which is furthest away from reality. While technical staff in Asia often earn on par with their European counterparts, commercial roles such as a charterer or shipbroker often get paid more in Asia than anywhere else in the world. European and USA-based workers seemed to think the opposite with 47% and 64% respectively believing that their Asian counterparts get paid less than them, while workers in Asia seemed more confident in the pay levels against both workers in Europe and USA – 64% of Asian workers thought they got paid more than their counterparts in Europe and 69% thought the same against USA shore-based employees.

Image courtesy Faststream
Image courtesy Faststream

More Key Findings:

  • While 69% of all the respondents would follow the same profession again if given a second chance, only half of deck officers would
  • 92% of shoreside workers think it’s at least quite important to have ex-seafarers in the office, while 35% say it’s vital
  • Engineering officers think that it is much easier to get a job ashore than deck officers do
  • The least attractive shoreside professions to seafarers are in the law, shipbroking and insurance areas
  • 37% of maritime professionals think that SE Asia offers the best career opportunities over the next 10 years

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