Work at Sea: How to Get a Freighter Job

Jul 28, 2020 Laura Garbers Laura Garbers

Not sure where to start? Search Cargo Ship jobs here.

It is easy to get a freighter job and work at sea anywhere in the world. All you need is valid documentation to guarantee your employment on a ship. 


Getting Started: How to Get a Freighter Job

Landing a freighter job can be a little challenging, especially to those new to the industry. The article below focuses on ways you can get a ship job easily.

Submitting Job Applications

Before submitting a job application, you need to have a polished resume. Why? Well, recruiters spend an average of 3 minutes going through a candidate’s resume. Within this short time, most recruiters will have already made up their minds. So, you have a short time to impress the recruiters. Consider asking for help from the best online resume editors. In addition to helping you submit a professional and well-formatted resume, these services will also increase your chances of getting that job.


With a polished resume, you can now head on to the best websites that post job openings in the transportation and logistics industry. To narrow your search, try using the keywords work at sea, freighter jobs, or deck hand jobs to get you started. What’s even better is that some posts offer the candidates a chance to work on the ocean-going vessels or inland waterways.  

Work Experience

If you have no experience working on a freighter, consider going for a short course in a maritime college.  A naval academy is a hands-on technical school that is focused on teaching practical skills that are useful at sea. A maritime school offers a combination of ‘hands-on experience’ Graduating from such an academy will prepare you for a successful future in maritime careers. 

If you already have some form of basic of maritime and freight education, consider getting an entry-level job on a freighter. As a matter of fact, there couldn’t be a more exciting time to start developing your career in the shipping industry. One way to go about it is by going to your local harbor and asking each captain if they are hiring. You can start as a deckboy or a workaway. 

A deckboy is considered a member of the ship crew. This position is not as lucrative as other freighter job positions, as you will earn a small wage. As a deckboy, you will be responsible for the deck’s cleanliness. Additionally, you will be required to check the deck fittings of the ship. As a workaway, you will be tasked with odd jobs on the ship. These jobs are aimed at helping the crew with their daily duties.


Alternatively, you can start as an ordinary seaman, commonly known as the Deckhand.  As a deck hand, you will be charged with responsibilities is such as preparing cabins for patrons, communicating information to the crew, maintaining ship equipment, and cleaning. Ultimately, it will depend on the type of freighter you work on or the type of goods being transported by the ship.

To expand your network, consider attending industry events. It is way easier to reach out to people here and inquire about any available jobs. Additionally, it is easier to learn how the maritime business works. Either way, remember to always put yourself out there to increase your odds of landing your ideal job. It might not happen right away, but don’t be discouraged. Sooner or later, you will get employment on a freighter.


It goes without saying that seafarer training is essential to working on a ship. You will be working alongside crew members from different countries. This means that the crew members have received varied information with regards to seafarer training. Consider attending a training program that adheres to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers. All countries are obliged to meet or even surpass these standard requirements.

Be Prepared to Work at Sea

It is crucial to understand what employment on a freighter means. For the most part, you may end up at sea longer than you might have anticipated. Additionally, freight jobs are physically demanding. From standing the whole day to carrying heavy items, you have to be physically fit before working in a freighter. So, it would be best if you were physically and mentally prepared to cope with the gruesome demands of working at sea.

The next thing that you’d want to do is to get a valid passport and a vaccination certificate. It’s pretty simple; freighters travel all over the world. It would help if you carried with you, valid documents to allow you entry to such countries. Vaccination certificates give details of your vaccination history. Certain countries require individuals to produce this document to allow entry.

Ultimately, your hard work on deck and attitude are traits that are going to push you to your next level. If you are struggling to get employment opportunities on a freighter, don’t be discouraged, just keep trying. Remember, it is harder to get ship jobs in some countries than others. For example, if you live in the United States, consider registering as a union member in the American Union organization. If you are not a member, your job application will be put on a waiting list, which takes a long time before anything substantial can materialize.  

Another relevant document that you need to have is the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). As a security measure, any person who enters the United States seaport will be required to produce this document. It would be best if you were physically and mentally prepared to cope with the gruesome demands of working at sea.


Consider looking up an entry job through the Scandinavian Shipping Office. It is fairly easy to get a decent entry freighter job here. For instance, the Scandinavian office in San Francisco gives out jobs every weekday at exactly 10 a.m. However, members of the union are given first priority. If there is an entry-level position such as a deckboy, you might stand a very good chance of getting it.

Laura Garbers is a professional career advisor who works with CraftResumes. She is also known as the Career Coaching Expert.

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