Is becoming a sailor right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do sailors do?
Career Satisfaction
Are sailors happy with their careers?
What are sailors like?

Still unsure if becoming a sailor is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a sailor or another similar career!

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How to become a Sailor

Becoming a sailor can involve various paths depending on the type of sailor you want to be.

For United States Navy Sailors:

  • Meet Eligibility Requirements: Ensure you meet the basic eligibility criteria, such as being a US citizen or legal permanent resident, meeting age and educational requirements, and passing a background check.
  • Contact a Navy Recruiter: Get in touch with a Navy recruiter to discuss your interests and qualifications. The recruiter will guide you through the enlistment process and provide information on available career paths.
  • Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) Test: The ASVAB assesses your knowledge and skills in various areas, determining which Navy jobs you are eligible for.
  • Pass a Medical Examination: Undergo a medical examination to ensure you meet the medical standards required for military service.
  • Complete Basic Training (Boot Camp): Enlist and attend Navy Basic Training to prepare for Navy life and military service.

For Commercial Fishermen:

  • Gain Fishing Experience: While formal education is not always required, gaining practical experience in fishing or maritime work can be beneficial.
  • Obtain Necessary Licenses and Certifications: Depending on the fishing type and location, you may need licenses or permits from state or federal authorities.
  • Join a Fishing Crew: Apply to work on a fishing vessel or seek opportunities to join a fishing crew as a deckhand or crew member.
  • Learn Fishing Skills: Acquire skills related to fishing techniques, handling gear, and fish processing through on-the-job training and experience.
  • Work Your Way Up: As you gain experience and skills, you can progress to more responsible roles, such as a mate or skipper.

For Merchant Mariners:

  • Obtain Required Training: Depending on the position you wish to pursue (e.g., deck officer, engineering officer), you may need to complete relevant maritime training and obtain certifications from the US Coast Guard.
  • Gain Sea Service Experience: Accumulate a specific number of days at sea as part of your training and licensing requirements.
  • Apply for Jobs: Look for job openings on commercial ships and maritime companies, and submit your applications with the appropriate certifications and documentation.
  • Advance Your Career: Continue gaining experience and pursuing higher-level licenses and endorsements to advance your career as a merchant mariner.

Helpful Resources
There are several organizations and certifications available for sailors of all types, whether they are recreational sailors, professional mariners, or aspiring seafarers. Here are some notable ones:

  • United States Coast Guard (USCG): The USCG provides various certifications and licenses for professional mariners, including Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMC) for deck officers, engineers, and other positions in the maritime industry.
  • Royal Yachting Association (RYA): Based in the UK, RYA offers a wide range of sailing courses and certifications for recreational sailors, including Day Skipper, Coastal Skipper, and Yachtmaster qualifications.
  • American Sailing Association (ASA): ASA is a popular organization in the United States that provides sailing education and certification programs for recreational sailors, with courses ranging from basic keelboat sailing to advanced coastal cruising.
  • International Yacht Training Worldwide (IYT): IYT is a global organization that offers sailing and powerboat courses for both recreational and professional mariners, recognized in many countries worldwide.
  • International Sailing Federation (ISAF): Now known as World Sailing, this organization oversees international sailing competitions and events. They set the racing rules and regulations for competitive sailors.
  • National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA): While not a certification body itself, NASBLA sets standards for boating education in the United States, and many states require boating safety certificates, which can be obtained through approved courses.
  • Professional Yachtmaster Training (PYT): This organization offers training and certification for professional yacht crew, including yachtmaster qualifications for various positions on superyachts.
  • International Maritime Organization (IMO): The IMO is a United Nations agency responsible for setting global standards for maritime safety, security, and environmental protection. Their certifications are typically geared towards professional mariners.
  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA): The MCA, based in the UK, issues certifications for seafarers and maritime professionals, including deck and engineering officer qualifications.
  • The Ocean Cruising Club (OCC): This organization focuses on long-distance cruising and offers resources, support, and social networking for offshore sailors.