In most circumstances, to become a sea pilot you will need experience as a ship’s officer or a successful mariner before seeking to break into the piloting sector with some employers looking for candidates who also hold a valid master’s qualification.
However, the requirements to become a sea pilot will differ from country to country and also from each employer.
Some employers may only require you to have a general maritime qualification whereas some may only accept candidates who have a master’s qualification.
It can take people many years before becoming a sea pilot as you’ll need to accrue a minimum sea time aboard certain vessels before you can be considered to be an eligible candidate, you may also need to work your way up through the ranks in order to be considered for a pilot training scheme.
However, it is not unheard of for candidates who hold no previous maritime experience to be considered for a sea pilot role, if they think they still possess the correct same skills and will be able to learn everything through the training program.
Anyone considering becoming a sea pilot should seek out their local ports or pilotage area in their state to find out the requirements to become a sea pilot.
How do you become a cargo ship pilot?
For most employers, to be eligible for the training to become a cargo ship pilot, you will have needed to go to maritime college and also acquired a solid number of years of vessel experience before you can qualify.
You will then spend a few years training and working alongside an existing pilot and working to become a deputy pilot.
Those who manage to get through the training are then an exam based upon the state you’re in to become a fully qualified pilot.
How long does it take to become a maritime pilot?
The training needed to become a maritime pilot will depend on the experience you have before you carry out the training.
If you meet the prior vessel requirements to start training to become a maritime pilot, then the training program could take you around 2-3 years before you become a qualified maritime pilot.
If you don’t have much maritime experience but you’ve still become eligible to be trained, then the process could take you up to 10 years to become a qualified maritime pilot.
How much do sea pilots make?
The annual salary of sea pilots will depend on their experience and also what kind of vessel using the port and what sort of hours you work.
The average salary for a sea pilot is between $35,000 and $65,000, however, sea pilots with over 40 years of experience could be earning over $100,000 a year but this will be based upon where you work.
The average marine corps pilot is around the $90,000 mark.
What does a pilot do on a ship?
A sea pilot guides vessels through dangerous or difficult waterways such as harbors or narrow rivers as they have expert knowledge on how to handle and pass through local waterways.
The sea pilot is not the person who is in control of the vessel at all times - that is the captain.
The sea pilot will come on board the vessel when it has become difficult to maneuver the ship through the waters and the pilot can then advise the captain on what route he/she should take.
Marine pilots are especially valuable when it comes to cargo ships or oil tanks as they are the most difficult to maneuver and pilots are normally the only ones who can navigate the vessel when it becomes difficult to avoid loss.
A maritime pilot will also be local to the area that they work as they’ll need to be expertise on those particular waterways and know how to guide ships or vessels the right way.
The pilot is not part of the ship’s crew and he doesn’t travel onboard the ship with everyone else, if he needs to take control and navigate the ship then he will come on board via a helicopter or a smaller boat.
Being a maritime pilot can be an extremely stressful job so they must be able to stay calm during testing circumstances and also be able to communicate effectively with those back in the port and also the crew and captain on board the vessel.