7 reasons to work back ashore

When you begin a career at sea, it doesn’t take long for you to feel more at home on a ship than in a fixed building on land. You get used to the motion, you become familiar with the sounds and smells of a working ship and of course, you get accustomed to the tax-free salary. However, over time, these familiarities can become less of a comfort and more of a routine part of your day-to-day existence and once you’ve travelled the world, one, twice or twenty times the initial thrill of experiencing far and foreign lands may wear off.

If you’ve seen all the sites you wanted to see, realised all the ambitions you set out to achieve and obtained all the worldly experience you wanted, then it may be time for you to come back ashore.

To help you make your decision, here are 7 reasons why you might consider moving back on land.

1. Open up new career opportunities

At sea you may have gone down the officer or engineer route and mastered your craft. Ashore, you have a range of new disciplines to discover, whether you opt to go into an operational, technical or project management focused role.

2. Progress your career in new ways

If you’ve reached Senior Officer or Senior Engineer level at sea, there is a limit to how much further you can progress. At first, you may see returning ashore as a backwards step in your career but by coming back in at a ‘lower’ level, you actually have more options to progress and can once more reap the reward and satisfaction of moving higher up the rank.

3. Share your knowledge and at-sea experience

If you’ve worked at sea and you now work ashore, you have an extremely valuable skill set to offer employers. You have not only honed the skills required to maintain the day-to-day operations of the ship but you have also proven your adaptability and willingness to learn by returning ashore. What’s more, your consistent high performance ashore may well allow you to surpass your earning potential at sea whilst still retaining the other benefits of life on land.

Alan is a Captain who has moved ashore and now works in Singapore as a Fleet Supervision Manager for one of the world’s largest tanker owners. Speaking about returning to work on land, he described the importance of utilising your sea skills ashore: “It is important to keep your technical and maritime knowledge up to date. It is because of this knowledge that seamen are needed ashore. Teamwork is just as vital in the office as it is on board as you must work together to achieve your common objective.”

4. Take on new challenges

Clearly the transition from sea to shore may take some time but this in itself is a challenge which will provide you with valuable insight. Ivan is a Master Mariner who has recently made the transition ashore and now works as a Surveyor for a leading international investigation and survey organisation. He summarised his experience: “It has been challenging and difficult at times but it has also been very motivating. In most cases, things in the office take longer than on the ship and working in a more diversified office environment requires a different approach to teamwork, leadership and management.”

From your experience at sea you are already likely to have 70-80% of the skills you’ll need ashore. This means there is room for growth and a chance to experience new projects and new ways of working. Simply adapting to an office environment with a more diverse workforce (for example, a more balanced male-female ratio) will be an interesting challenge.

5. Learn new skills

Undoubtedly, you will have a lot of knowledge and experience to impart on the seagoing colleagues you will be supporting from ashore. You understand the importance of safety and adhering to ship standards and you will be able to help the junior ranks on board take on this knowledge and operate the vessel to a higher level. However, you will also be able to learn from your new shore-based colleagues.

You may take on projects in new building, ship management, budgeting and/or project management and if necessary, you will be supported with specific training relevant to your new role. Experience in these projects is very attractive to a broad range of employers and will considerably enhance your employability for the future.

6. Enhance your work-life balance

If you’ve dreamed of clocking off at 5pm on a Friday, now is your chance. Of course, you may be required to travel and provide support outside of these standard office hours, for example, if something goes wrong with a vessel or extra support is needed for a repair or maintenance operation, but on the whole, you will be able to leave your work at the door and spend your free time as you wish.
Ivan recognises a rebalanced work-life balance as the biggest benefit of his transition: “The best thing about having made the move is that I can go home at the end of the day and spend time with family and friends.”

7. Choose a base in your favourite international location

With numerous shipping hubs all around the world, you have your pick of where you wish to begin your shore-based life. London, Singapore, Houston, Hamburg, Athens and Limassol are just a few options.

It is a big decision to leave your seafaring ways behind so if you are considering moving ashore, make sure you do enough research before making the commitment. Christopher, a Chief Officer who is now a Voyage Manager in London for a world leading LNG operator, offers some sound advice for anyone considering making the move: “My advice to others thinking of making the move ashore is to do so with an open mind, bearing in mind that the initial role you take is just a gateway to your career ashore. Do your research on house prices, cost of living and commuting options so you know exactly what to expect before you make the move.”

If you want to find out more about opportunities ashore, please get in touch with our Shipping team of specialist consultants who can advise you on roles that might be suited to your skills, experience and ambitions. Email scott.cook@matchtech.com or call 01489 898173, quoting ‘7 reasons’.

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