How to Become a World-Class Filipino Seafarer

Are you dreaming of becoming a seafarer? Working as a seafarer is one of the highest-paying jobs available to Filipinos, both domestically and internationally. 

Filipino seafarers are highly sought after due to their skills, diligence, and commitment. Approximately one-fourth of the world’s seafarers are Filipinos, making the Philippines a leading source of maritime professionals.

pinoy seafarers
Credits: PNA

What is a Seafarer?

A seafarer, or seaman, is a person employed on a ship, performing various tasks related to sailing, navigation, maintenance, and more. 

In the Philippines, this term is often used to refer to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who work at sea. 

There are different roles within the seafaring profession, including “able-bodied seaman” (AB) and “ordinary seaman” (OS), each with specific duties and requirements.

Roles of Seafarers

Able-Bodied Seaman (AB): An AB is an experienced seafarer with at least two years of sea service. 

They perform tasks such as lookout, helmsman duties, maintenance, repair, and emergency tasks.

Ordinary Seaman (OS): An OS is typically an apprentice seafarer, responsible for general maintenance and sanitation duties. 

They work under the supervision of officers and gain experience to eventually become an AB.

Opportunities for Women

Although the maritime industry has traditionally been male-dominated, there are growing opportunities for women. 

Filipino women have successfully pursued careers as seafarers, proving that the industry is open to all genders.

4 Steps to Becoming a World-Class Pinoy Seafarer

  1. Complete Required Training: Aspiring seafarers must complete the Basic Safety Training (BST) course, which includes sea survival techniques, personal safety, fire fighting, and first aid.
  2. Prepare Necessary Documents: Obtain a BST certificate, a Seaman’s Book, and a Philippine Passport.
  3. Apply Through Accredited Agencies: Use only agencies accredited by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) / Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to ensure legitimacy.
  4. Continue Education: Pursue further training and education to advance in your career. Opportunities for growth and promotion are abundant in the maritime industry.

Seaman Training Courses

For high school graduates interested in becoming seafarers, enrolling in a maritime course is a great start. 

Courses like Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation (BSMT) and Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering (BSMarE) are offered by many maritime schools in the Philippines. 

These courses provide essential skills and knowledge for a successful seafaring career.

Top Maritime Schools in the Philippines

Here are some of the top maritime schools based on their graduates’ passing rates:

  • Asian Institute of Maritime Studies
  • Baliwag Maritime Academy
  • John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University
  • Lyceum of the Philippines University – Batangas
  • Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific
  • Philippine Maritime Institute – Bohol
  • Philippine Merchant Marine Academy
  • Philippine Merchant Marine School
  • University of Cebu
  • University of Perpetual Help – Las Piñas

Job Requirements

To apply for a seafaring job, you need the following documents:

  • Valid Passport
  • Updated Resume
  • Seaman’s Book
  • Medical Certificate
  • Transit Visa
  • Training Certificates (e.g., BST, STCW)

How to Apply for a Seaman’s Book

The Seaman’s Book, also known as the Seafarers Identification and Record Book (SIRB), is essential for every seafarer. 

To apply, submit the following to MARINA:

  • High school diploma or Transcript of Records
  • Birth Certificate
  • NBI Clearance
  • Certificate of Authentication/Verification from CHED or DepEd
  • Passport-sized photos
  • Accomplished MARINA application form

Finding a Job

Seafarers can find job opportunities through various platforms:

  • Online Job Sites:,, Pinoy Seaman, Seaman Jobsite, Seaman Jobs Philippines
  • Manning Agencies: Bahia Shipping Services, Inc., CF Sharp Crew Management, Inc., Jebsens Maritime, Magsaysay Maritime Corporation, and more

Ranks on a Ship

Understanding the hierarchy on a ship is essential:

  • Captain/Master: The highest-ranking officer in charge of the ship, cargo, and crew.
  • Deck Department: Includes Chief Mate, Second Mate, Third Mate, Deck Cadets, Boatswains, and ABs.
  • Engineering Department: Led by the Chief Engineer, includes Second, Third, and Fourth Engineers, and Engineering Cadets.
  • Steward Department: Handles food preparation and maintenance, led by the Chief Cook and Chief Steward.

Salary and Benefits

Seafarers’ salaries vary based on their rank and the type of vessel. 

Entry-level positions can earn around USD 850 (Php 49,500++) per month, while higher ranks and those on tanker vessels can earn significantly more. 

Additionally, seafarers receive medical benefits, pension plans, and opportunities for travel.

OWWA Programs for Seafarers

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) offers several programs to support Filipino seafarers:

  • Seafarer’s Upgrading Program (SUP): Provides training assistance up to PHP 7,500 for short-term courses.
  • Mariner’s Dugtong Aral (MDA) Program: Offers grants for graduates of BS Electrical or Mechanical Engineering to pursue BS Marine Engineering.
  • Marine Educational Development Loan Program (MEDLOP): A “study now, pay later” program for marine officers and engineers.
  • Incentive Program for Top 200 Maritime Cadets: Provides PHP 30,000 for document processing for the top maritime cadets.

Applying for a Seaman Loan

Filipino seafarers can apply for loans through programs like the OFW Reintegration Program, a collaboration between OWWA and LANDBANK, offering credit assistance to returning OFWs who plan to start businesses.

Continuing Education: National Maritime Polytechnic

National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) offers various training courses for seafarers, including deck courses, engineering courses, and free online courses. 

NMP is a government training center under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Tips for Applying for a Seaman Job

To increase your chances of getting hired:

1. Ensure Your Documents are Valid and Complete

Having valid and complete documents is important because shipping companies and agencies require specific paperwork to verify your qualifications and eligibility to work on a ship.

Incomplete or expired documents can delay your application process or even lead to disqualification.

2. Organize and Maintain Your Paperwork

Keeping your paperwork organized and ready helps you respond quickly to job openings.

It shows potential employers that you are prepared and professional, which can make a positive impression and increase your chances of getting hired.

3. Apply Through Accredited Agencies

Applying through POEA-accredited agencies ensures that you are dealing with legitimate recruiters.

This protects you from scams and guarantees that the job offers are genuine and comply with legal standards.

4. Read and Understand Contracts Before Signing

Understanding your contract is important to know your rights, responsibilities, and the terms of your employment.

This helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures that you agree to the conditions of your job, including salary, working hours, and benefits.

5. Persevere and Keep Applying if You Don’t Get Hired Immediately

The maritime industry is competitive, and it may take time to land a job.

Staying persistent and continuously applying shows determination and resilience, qualities that are valued in seafarers.

Don’t be discouraged by initial rejections; each application brings you closer to your goal.

Must-Have Traits of Seafarers

To succeed as a seafarer, you need:

Good Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential on a ship, where you will interact with a diverse crew.

Clear communication helps ensure safety, coordination, and efficient operations.

Physical Fitness

Seafaring is physically demanding, requiring strength and endurance.

Being in good shape allows you to handle heavy equipment, perform emergency tasks, and endure long working hours.

Team-Player Attitude

Working on a ship involves collaboration with others.

Being a team player ensures smooth operations and helps maintain a positive work environment.

Problem-Solving Abilities

Seafarers often face unexpected challenges at sea.

Quick and effective problem-solving skills are essential to address emergencies and technical issues.

Emotional Strength

Life at sea can be isolating and stressful.

Emotional strength helps you cope with long periods away from family, homesickness, and the demanding nature of the job.


Becoming a seafarer offers excellent opportunities but comes with its challenges. It requires dedication, continuous learning, and perseverance. 

If you are committed to this career path, the rewards are significant, including competitive salaries, career advancement, and the chance to see the world.

Seafaring is a noble profession that plays an important part in global trade, and Filipino seafarers are among the best in the world. 

If you’re ready to embark on this journey, the steps and tips outlined in this guide will help you navigate the path to becoming a world-class Filipino seafarer.

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