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The successful operation of a vessel depends on its crew. Each crew member has an important role to play to ensure the smooth running of the vessel. When it comes to vessel crew, the name BOSUN stands out quite clearly.

Want to know all it takes to pursue this career? Read further….

The Job

A Bosun also known as a Boatswain is the team leader of the deck crew and his duty, among others, is to supervise the deck crew of a vessel.

He is in charge of planning, scheduling and assigning tasks to the deck crew as well as supervising all mooring and anchoring operations, deck machinery such as winches, anchors, gangway and all other ancillary equipment.

As a Bosun, you will ensure all lowest workers (crew members without a mate’s licence) are effective in their duties and that the vessel’s officers carry out their quota of work without constant direct involvement with the crew’s deck work and all safe & efficient working practices are being adhered to. To further simplify this role, you will be the proxy between the vessel’s officers (Licensed members) and the rest of the crew (Unlicensed members).

You will report directly to the Chief Officer or Master.

Working Conditions and Salary

As with other seagoing occupations, you will experience the unique adventures and challenges that come with work at sea, such as open deck surfaces and a rotating shift or a watch system. Generally, you will be assigned to a particular vessel where you will assist and supervise the deck crew in maintaining the vessel and its equipment. Other duties will vary depending on the vessel, crew, and circumstances.

The starting salary for fully a trained Bosun is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the salary may be higher.

Entry Requirements

The minimum required education for this career is a senior secondary school certificate. Post-secondary education is not mandatory, but of course, if you want to fast track your career, you need to reach a certain standard of education (degree/HND or post-degree).

You will be required to start as the lowest ranking personnel in the deck department which is the Ordinary seaman (OS) or Deck Hand, then move on to Able seaman (AB), and then to Bosun. If you demonstrate the required skills, dedication and potentials you will get opportunities for career progression and promotions.

Training and Certifications

You must get basic occupational qualification training and certifications like STCW 95, seafarer medical certificate, a certificate to work offshore etc. If you want to advance in this career, then the STCW 95 is not enough. You will need to develop specialized skills through formal courses. Some employers also offer on-the-job training and advanced training.

Some institutions within and outside Nigeria offer training programmes for Bosuns e.g.:

Barque Picton Castle

Maritime Training & Safety Services

Career Progression

Progression in this career is mainly driven by individual performance, professional expertise and completion of professional qualifications. After you have reached the Bosun role, you then move up the ladder to become a Third Officer (Depending on the type of vessel. Some vessels do not have this role), Second Officer, First Officer/Chief Mate and Captain/Master.

You can also pursue more senior roles ashore, many opportunities exist for seafarers who want to utilise their skills and experience gained at sea in employment ashore. E.g.
• Marine Education and Training
• Marine Finance
• Marine Insurance
• Pilots and other roles connected with worldwide ports
• Recruitment and offshore operations
• Ship operations

Of course, you will need to acquire more education, training and certifications to go into these careers.

We hope you found this week’s career profiler interesting and useful. If you are interested in this career path or have questions, require further guidance on planning your career or have comments and suggestions, please feel free to contact us at Or you know someone, a friend, a colleague who may find this post interesting, please do share this with them.

We wish you every success in your career…..

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