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From Land to Sea: Start Your Career with a Seaman Course

Last updated: June 21, 2023

Key takeaways:

  •  It would help to have a seaman’s book before boarding a ship as an employee.
  •  The salary of a seaman is higher compared to land-based jobs
  • The job market for seamen in the Philippines is robust, with numerous manning agencies connecting seafarers with opportunities
  • There are alternative paths for non-maritime courses. You could consider roles in engineering or hospitality on cruise ships
  • The Philippines provides significant government assistance to seafarers, including welfare programs

Do you want to earn a lot of money and travel the world? One of the easiest ways to do this is by being a seaman or a seafarer.

A seaman course can open the door to a lucrative career that lets you travel the world, earn a good salary, and gain unique experiences. With the Philippines’ rich maritime history and excellent maritime schools, it’s an excellent place to embark on this journey.

This career is one of the most sought-after in the Philippines.

what course is seaman

Definition of a Seaman/Seafarer in Philippines

What is a seaman? A seaman is someone who works on ships. You can choose from many roles, such as being a cook, engineer, electrician, etc. You can also keep studying to increase your rank and be a captain one day!

The main duties of seafarers are to ensure that they navigate the waters safely and that all functions required to make a safe voyage are met.

Role of an Able-Bodied Seaman

There are different roles for able-bodies seafarers, and below are some examples:

  • Maintenance work
  • Emergency response
  • Responsibilities that have something to do with cargo, ship, and passenger safety

At the very least, an able-bodied seaman, or AB, has at least two years of experience as a seafarer. It is a good rank that opens doors for promotions.

Role of an Ordinary Seaman

There is another role called ordinary seaman or OS. People in the OS category perform duties that you would also typically find in land-based jobs.

Here are some examples:

  • Cook food
  • Serve food
  • Wash dishes
  • Mop the floor
  • Clean the quarters

The OS level is typically the starting point of any seaman. However, you only need a basic seaman course to get this position.

Inclusivity: Opportunities for Women in the Maritime Industry

Yes, women are allowed in the industry. However, history tells us that only a few women do it. Only about 5% of all seafarers are women. Why?

If you think about it, mothers are typically responsible for raising kids. Women can do the job of a seaman. However, this job requires the employee to be on a ship for months. Sometimes, a Filipino seaman will not go home for two years.

As such, women who have children opt out of this option. It is better to work in the country or abroad where a woman can go home anytime instead of staying in the sea for months. An alternative is you can take a sea woman course in the Philippines, then choose a job at a cruise ship where you are only away for a week.

Here are some professions they typically opt for:

  • Radio Officer: Operates and manages all shipboard communication systems.
  • Medical Officer: Provides medical care for the crew and passengers onboard.
  • Catering Staff: Works in the galley (kitchen), providing meals for the crew and passengers.
  • Hospitality Staff: Works on cruise ships in various roles, such as housekeeping, guest relations, entertainment, and more.
  • Maritime Lawyer or Administrator: Works in maritime law or administrative positions, often based on shore but crucial to ship operations.

seawoman course

How to Become a Seaman: Work as a Seafarer

This section will give you the steps to becoming a seafarer in the Philippines. Overview of Becoming a Seaman:

  • Understanding the Path to Becoming a Seaman – you must complete a seaman or seawoman course before becoming a seafarer.
  • Importance of Seaman Training Courses – you must go to school to complete your degree or take a certificate to qualify to become a seaman. The most important one is the basic safety training. This training is what we call the BST or Basic Safety Training.
  • Top 10 Maritime Schools in the Philippines – many schools in the Philippines offer a seafarer course or curriculum.

Best Schools and Seaman Course in College

INSTITUTION Seaman Course in college LOCATION
🟣 Lyceum-Northwestern University BSMT and BSMarE Dagupan, Pangasinan
🟣 Northern Philippines College for Maritime, Science and Technology, Inc. BSMT and BSMarE San Fernando City, La Union
🟣 Northwestern University BSMT and BSMarE Laoag City, Philippines
🟣 Pangasinan Merchant Marine Academy BSMT and BSMarE Dagupan, Pangasinan
🟣 PanPacific University BSMT only Urdaneta Citv, Panqasinan
🟣 PIMSAT Colleges BSMT and BSMarE Daqupan City, Panqasinan
🟣 Philippine College of Science and Technology BSMT and BSMarE Calasiao, Pangasinan
🟣 Polytechnic College of La Union BSMT only Agoo, La Union
🟣 Isabela College of Arts and Technology BSMT and BSMarE Cauayan City, lsabela
🟣 University of Cagayan Valley BSMT and BSMarE Tuguegarao City, Cagayan

Essential Job Requirements for Seamen – like an OFW, there are number of documents requirements you must possess to be able to apply for a seaman. Here are some job requirements:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Seaman’s Book
  • Medical Certificate
  • Training Certificates or Diploma and Transcript of Records
  • Transit Visa

Applying for a Seaman’s Book

To apply for a Seaman’s Book, you must go to the MARINA Office and ask them for a Seafarers Identification and Record Book or SIRB. It is similar to a passport for traveling, but only for a seaman.
Here are the things you need:

  • High school diploma or college Transcript of Records
  • Birth Certificate
  • NBI Clearance for Employment
  • Two pieces of passport-sized photos
  • MARINA application form (1)

You will also need to pay fees to this organization. Right now, the fee is between ₱800 and ₱1,500.

Navigating the Job Market

How do you find a job as a seaman? Let us say that you completed the seaman course list; what is next? Connecting Seafarers with Opportunities – you can go to recruitment agencies specifically reserved for people who want to work on ships. You must complete the proper types of seaman courses before you go to these places, as they will look for your certificates.

Top Manning Agencies:

  • Career Philippines Shipmanagement, Inc.
  • Inter-Orient Maritime Enterprises, Inc
  • Magsaysay Maritime Corporation
  • United Philippine Lines Inc.
  • BSM Crew Service Centre Philippines, Inc.
  • NYK-Fil Ship Management, Inc.
  • Jebsens Maritime, Inc
  • Stolt-Nielsen Philippines, Inc.
  • Wallem Maritime Services, Inc.
  • Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc.
  • Anglo-Eastern Crew Management Philippines Incorporated

seaman course

Understanding the Ranks in a Ship

You must understand the different rankings of seafarers to know where you stand. each of these positions require varying levels of education, training, and experience. Starting as an Ordinary Seaman with a basic seaman course, one can climb up the hierarchy through gaining experience and further education/training.

Below is a general hierarchy of ranks on a ship. Please note that specific ranks and responsibilities might slightly vary depending on the ship type and company:

Rank Duties
🟣 Master/Captain Overall in-charge of the ship, responsible for navigation and safety
🟣 Chief Mate/First Officer Assists the captain, responsible for cargo and deck crew
🟣 Second Mate/Officer Navigational duties, keeping charts and publications up to date
🟣 Third Mate/Officer Safety officer, responsible for life-saving and firefighting equipment
🟣 Deck Cadet Trainee officer, learning and assisting the deck officers
🟣 Able Seaman (AB) Skilled crew member, can handle all kinds of deck work
🟣 Ordinary Seaman (OS) Entry-level rank, assists in basic deck tasks, learning to become AB
🟣 Chief Engineer Responsible for all engine room operations and crew
🟣 Second Engineer Assists chief engineer, manages engine room in chief’s absence
🟣 Third Engineer Manages and maintains engines and machinery
🟣 Fourth Engineer Assists third engineer, handles machinery maintenance tasks
🟣 Engine Cadet Trainee engineer, learning and assisting engineering officers
🟣 Electrical Officer Responsible for all electrical systems on the ship
🟣 Bosun (Boatswain) Supervises ABs and OSs, responsible for deck maintenance
🟣 Cook/Steward Prepares and serves meals, maintains cleanliness of galley and cabins
🟣 Messman Assists the cook, responsible for cleanliness of mess and cabins

What is a Seaman Salary in the Philippines?

There is no single salary for all seamen. The compensation, like any job, varies from one person to another. Typically, you start at $850 per month.

Support for Seafarers

It is difficult enough to b a seaman. As such, the Philippines provides government assistance to these workers.

  1. OWWA Programs for Seafarers (2): Welfare and Assistance – a branch of the Department of Labor and Employment that provides help t seafarers. They ensure the well-being of seamen and sea women.
  2. Applying for a Seaman Loan: Financial Support Options – many companies offer fast loans to seafaring people. Most of the time, people starting in this industry need money.
  3. National Maritime Polytechnic (3): Enhancing Seafarer Skills – an institution that provides ongoing seaman training for everyone. You can go here to upgrade your skills and get a promotion.

Learn How to Get
Fast Seafarer Loan in the Philippines

Alternate Paths for Non-Maritime Courses

If you do not want to become a seaman but still want to work in ships, you can still be a part of the industry.

The two main options are:

  1. Engineering – you will fix engineering problems of the ship, such as electricals, engines, and even computer peripherals.
  2. Hospitality – you can work on a cruise ship where you perform the same duties as hotel employees.

You can apply for other tasks that do not require maritime specialization. For example, you can be an accountant, bartender, etc. However, you still need to complete your Basic Seaman Training.


  • How many years does it take to become a seaman?
    Typically, you must study a degree course in the maritime industry for four years to be a bona fide seaman.
  • What is the salary of a seaman?
    The usual starting salary is ₱40,000 per month.
  • Is it easy to become a seaman?
    No, it isn’t easy to become a seaman. You need to graduate and pass the exams. Second, you will be in the sea for so long that you can be seasick.
  • What course is seaman or seawoman course in college?
    The two courses are BSMT or Bachelor of Science in Maritime Transportation. It is a degree course. The second one is BSMarE or Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering.
  • Seaman course how many years?
    It typically takes four years to complete a BSMT or BSMarE course.
  • What opportunities are there for women in the maritime industry?
    Although only about 5% of all seafarers are women, the industry is actively encouraging more women to join. You can take a sea woman course in the Philippines and opt for various roles on cruise ships, merchant navy vessels, and more.
  • How can I progress in my career after completing a seaman course?
    Once you've completed your basic seaman training, you can start working as an Ordinary Seaman (OS). As you gain experience and additional qualifications, you can progress to higher ranks such as Able Seaman, Third Officer, Second Officer, and potentially even Captain.

types of seaman course


Being a seaman is difficult because you will be away from your family. To become a seaman, you must complete the Basic Seaman Training course, which you can get in maritime schools. Once completed, you can now begin your exciting journey as a seafarer.


Digido Financial Writers Team is a team of experts in the field of finance and credit, specializing in writing articles for Digido blogs.
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