Survey says…

Apparently there is a shortage of experienced ship staff and operators. Specialized head hunting firms seemed to be popping up everywhere, while established, but non marine specialized ones, focus on to the high bounty paid as a result of a successful placement. However, I field inquiries suggesting that these established “land firms” have trouble understanding the challenges of “headhunting” in the seafaring world.

This has resulted in some benefits to us seafarers, one is that instead of begging and grovelling for good work, we get to be a bit more choosy than before. Another improvement, is that the various firms are fighting for exposure and as a result share more information with the community.

This year, I have come across a rash of “pay and benefits” surveys which are giving us a glimpse of what’s happening in the market. Most deal with shipping professionals in general, but many of these positions are extension of the seafaring marine engineer’s capabilities, so should be interesting reading for seafarers as well.

  • The first one is from start-up Flagship Management of the USA. This past June they issued a Salary Review. I had problems opening this document, if you do as well, just send them an email and they will send you a copy.
  • Next, professional development firm Coracle’s and recruiter’s, Halcyon, Employee Survey which briefly quizzed marine industry employees about ‘feelings and such”, rather than cash numbers – you can view the survey results for 2011 here, and see past surveys (2009, 2010) here.
  • On the scene and in the stream for some time now, Fast Stream, has also put out results of their comprehensive survey for 2012 salary. One of the highlights is that Chief Engineers, clearly lead in terms of percentage in rise of wages, in year over year pay increases.
  • Over at Elite Crew, they publish a Salary Guide for yacht crews, and Dovaston’s is here.
  • The government in the USA publishes these salary statistics, although they do not fit exactly into the categories we, as seagoing engineers, are used to. Here is another representation of payscales.

Overall, from my industry experience, I am finding that job offers for engineers here in Canada are moving up. Pay is definitely on the way up, unfortunately the rest of the terms and conditions aboard vessels – living arrangements, old boats, benefits, food, crew levels, leave rotation, etc, remain stagnate or going down. I am also seeing that the pay for an engineer has gone up, the crewing of the engine room is done by far fewer people than in the past. Many ship operators have cut ratings altogether in the engine room, if not to the bare minimums, or even having dual duties rating, “deckhands and oiler”.

This is having an interesting impact on the quality of life on board. For most of us that have gone through the “Canadian” training system, this is no surprise, but for many new engineer in Canada, which I believe is becoming the principle way for Canadian operators to obtain licensed crew for the vessels, this situation is a bit shocking to them, once on board. 

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