Many people love sailing and being out there in the seas as compared to on the land. That is why; people often search for careers which will help them sail for the better part of the year. A career in the seas can pay well. One of the most prestigious positions on the ship which you can opt for is the driver of the boat (not the official name :)).
With this position, you will have complete control of the vessel. Even though there will be a hierarchy, you will control the ship.
Many people, therefore, wonder about the designation of the person who drives the boat. We will answer that question below and also help you understand what they do and how they become qualified.
What do you call the driver of a boat?
The driver of the boat is known as helmsman. Helm stands for the wheel through which the ship is steered. That is why; the person is known as helmsman. Sometimes, he/she is the captain or skipper, and at other times, there will be a separate helmsman to steer the boat.
How to become a helmsman?
If you want to experience sailing, you can easily opt for the boat rental and experience the same. Most of the big harbors around the world have plenty of boat rental companies which can help you to steer the boat for a day or two. Helmsman, as a career, is a lucrative option. It can help you make a decent amount of money. However, to become a helmsman, you need to get the right education. Only when that is the case, you can be sure that you can professionally work as a helmsman.
We will now share with you the complete procedure to become a helmsman.
1. Getting the right education:
If you want to become a helmsman, you will have to enroll yourself in the maritime high school eventually. There are a few located on the shore near the Great Lakes or the coasts. However, before you do that, it is essential to complete your high school. It does not matter where you have completed high school.
You need to be familiar with three units of Maths, English, physics, and chemistry. You also need traditional units in subjects like foreign languages, social studies, and economics. The best way to up your chances of getting enrolled in maritime high school is to work part-time in a shipyard. It will ensure that you are familiar with the ship parts and design in general.
Working part-time will mean that you gain the requisite knowledge even before you head over to the maritime high school. It will help you score over other students applying for the school.
In case you did not finish our school, another option which you have is to go with the Gen education development certificate. However, when you go through the GED certificate, it is a bit difficult to get enrolled in the maritime schools. You can, however, opt for a diploma in a related course to increase your chances of enrolment. It will help you gain admission quite quickly.
In short, you need a diploma along with good scores in the high school with proper units to gain admission in the maritime schools.
2. Applying for maritime schools:
The maritime schools can help you get a four-year graduate degree. Often, the Coast Guard monitors these degrees. The subjects in these graduate courses can vary from ship construction to maritime law to engineering. There are a few tips which you can follow when attending maritime schools. These include:
• If you want to become a helmsman, applying for and enrolling yourself in the maritime school is the fastest way to do so. Most of the schools in the US are funded through the United States Maritime Administration. The schools aim to ensure that maritime professionals are always available for Merchant Navy.
• After completing your graduate degree from maritime schools, you will not qualify to become a helmsman right away. It requires licenses and experience. In many cases, maritime schools will also make an internship compulsory. Chances are, by the time you graduate, the only step left for you to become a helmsman is to get your license. Once you do so, you can start working as a helmsman.
We will highlight that step below.
3. Gaining certifications and experience:
Before you get your maritime graduation degree, it is necessary to get some experience. That is why; most of the maritime schools advise you to get an internship. You can get an internship on the bigger vessels like the cruise ship. It will ensure that you gain first-hand experience and also understand how the ship works. You will have some real experience out there in the seas which will prepare you for the job in advance. Completing such an internship will help you see the ship operations first hand.
If you do not get an opportunity to work on a cruise ship, you can even opt for an internship on a commercial or a government ship. It will also help you understand how ship’s work in general.
Getting your first job:
Majority of the maritime schools also offer replacement services. It means that before the completion of your degree or just after, you will have your first job. While working on the ship as well, you can get experience and qualifications which will move you up the hierarchy. Additionally, you can apply for jobs in the US merchant Marine reserve, naval reserve, or the Coast Guard reserve.
Before however, you become the helmsman, it is crucial to gain some experience on the deck. Due to this very reason, you should apply for jobs like Third mate, deck officer. Both of these jobs open up the opportunities to take exams which can help you become a helmsman and a captain. You can apply for these examinations without taking up these jobs. It is always a better idea to gain some experience before taking these examinations.
We will highlight more about these examinations below.
Getting your license:
If you want to work as a helmsman or on any other position in the ship, it is essential to get a transportation worker identification credential. You will also have to get merchant marine credential. There are certification exams for the same. These will test your knowledge regarding the ship protocols and procedures. It will also require a drug screening, vision test, physical test, and other exams. Most of the Marine high schools will familiarize you with all the topics on which you need to clear the exam.
The test itself will cost you around $ 50-$ 100. Only once you get the certifications, you can work on any ship. When you apply for the jobs, after the selection you will have to furnish these credentials to bag the job.
When you want to work as a helmsman or a captain, you will have to complete your education according to the above guide and also get the required licenses to work on a ship.
While, the educational qualifications might seem like a bit difficult to achieve, but the truth is that, once you complete your education and gain some experience, you will become a valuable resource which will help you climb up the ladder quite quickly. Also, since you enjoy being a helmsman, you will finally have a job which you love.
How much can a helmsman make on an annual basis?
The average salary of a helmsman is $ 63,000 per year. In most of the cases, your food and accommodation during the tenure of the job will be made available to you. It means that you can save a significant amount of money when you’re working as a helmsman. As you gain more and more experience, it becomes easy for you to get increments as well. In the marine industry, there is always a requirement of the skilled helmsman. Hence; you will find opportunities quite easily.
What is the working schedule of a helmsman?
The helmsman often requires working in four-hour shifts. If you’re working on a smaller boat as a helmsman, your duty can stretch up to 8 hours in each shift as well. In the remaining time, the captain might operate as helmsman or the First or the Second officer might work as the helmsman. These three positions are higher up the hierarchy than the helmsman.
The helmsman can report to any of these positions according to the hierarchy on the ship or the boat. Most of the times, the vessel is on autopilot. However, there might be some course corrections required. In such a case, the helmsman would handle the ship.
The radar officer will aid the helmsman and also be on the visual lookout to help the helmsman steer the vessel in the right direction. The helmsman as well keeps a watch on various instruments like GPS, status alerts, communications from the Coast Guard or SOS receivers.
So, if you had the question, what do you call the driver of a boat? now you know the answer for sure. If you like being out there in the sea, the position of helmsman (driver of a boat) is the perfect job for you. With our guide above, you can plan your education accordingly.
While the educational requirements might sound a bit difficult, but once you clear the maritime schools, it becomes easy to get the license and operate as a helmsman. Sure enough, you would need some experience before you do that, but once you reach the proper level in the hierarchy; you can experience the seas first hand and enjoy every bit of your job. With an above-average pay, you can easily enjoy the finances and also the perks which come with the job.