BS in Marine Transportation in the Philippines

The Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation (BSMT) is a four-year undergraduate degree program which leads to a professional career in the maritime industry, as a marine deck officer. Through this program, the students will be able to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge needed to accomplish their future duties and responsibilities of a marine officer, and will be exposed to theories and practices in seamanship, navigation, ship business, meteorology, and marine laws.

Some of the subjects taught in this program include:
  • Ship Handling and Maneuvering
  • Ships, Ship Routines, and Construction
  • Cargo Handling and Storage
  • Merchant Ships Search and Rescue
  • Deck Watchkeeping
  • Shipboard Personnel Management
  • Basic Marine Engineering
  • Ship Management Systems
  • Meteorology and Oceanography
  • Radio Communication
  • Stability and Trim
  • Terrestrial Navigation
  • Electronic Navigation
  • Celestial Navigation
  • Collision Regulation
  • Basic Safety
  • Maritime Laws
  • Marine Pollution and Prevention

The Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation is taught through classroom-based frontal instructions, regular hands-on trainings usually conducted in special laboratories, as well as simulation activities regarding the use of modern ship equipments like the RADAR, ARPA, and GMDSS communication.

What are the admission requirements for BSMT?

Requirements at each school may differ, but these are the common requirements:
  • Must be a high school graduate.
    Those who did not complete high school education may opt to first attend Alternative Learning System (ALS) and pass the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) to qualify for college. However, some universities only offer selected courses for PEPT passers admission.
  • Must pass the college entrance examination.
  • Must pass the interview conducted by the college/university admission officer
  • Medical laboratory results and health certificate
  • Good Moral certificate from the previous school (sometimes from enrollees Barangay)
  • Some schools require you to pass the qualifying test implemented by the Marine Transportation Department.
  • Some schools require a particular rating in the National Secondary Assessment Test (NSAT)

What skills will help you succeed in this profession?

  • Technical Skills – the ability to perform various tasks related to ship handling, navigation, and radio communication. Moreover, this can also refer to the ability to operate various equipments and software.
  • Endurance – this refers to the ability to withstand difficult situations, hardships, or stress. This skill is important because working as a marine deck officer involves difficult tasks, long hours of work, and entails being away from your family.
  • Navigation Skills – this skill refers to the ability to determine position and location. Having this skill will serve as an advantage because ship navigation is one of the areas taught in this course.
  • Organizational Skills – these skills are needed for you to be able to organize your time, meet the requirements of your job, and obtain optimal productivity. This is important because you will surely be assigned to accomplish different tasks especially during the training period.
  • Interpersonal Skills – the ability to communicate and interact harmoniously with other people will definitely help you work on group projects and activities with your classmates. This skill is also important in order for you to get along with your shipmates.
  • English Skills – the ability to read, write, and communicate well in English is necessary because most of the technical literature and required reading materials are in this language.
  • Critical Thinking – the ability to think logically and make use of reasoning in evaluating the different solutions or approaches to a problem
  • Analytical Skills – the ability to identify the kinds of data that are actually important and figure out how to solve problems

How difficult is this course?

BS in Marine Transportation is of average difficulty. Although this course involves technical concepts and practices regarding the different aspects of seamanship, it is still not as difficult as science, engineering or IT courses.

How long does it take to complete BS in Marine Transportation program in the Philippines?

Normally, the BSMT program takes 4 years to complete. Internship takes a whole year to complete, so basically, this course involves 3 years of school-based education and 1-year internship period.
Some schools that apply the trimestral school calendar system complete the program in a shorter period of time.

On The Job Training / Internship

This course entails a 1-year apprenticeship period aboard an actual ship in order to expose students to the real-life applications of the concepts and techniques that they learned in the classroom. Some schools help the students find companies where they could work as an intern, while some allow students to find their own. Moreover, some companies provide an internship allowance while others do not.

The Board Exams

Before taking any of the relevant licensure examinations, graduates of BSMT must have an actual work experience aboard a ship, and the minimum length of service depends upon the requirements of the PRC.

The examinations are conducted by the Board of Marine Deck and Marine Engine Officers under the supervision of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). They are scheduled twice a year in the months of January and July.

  • Officer-in-Charge of a Navigational Watch Licensure Examination

    Required for working as a Second Mate/ Second Officer, an OIC of a Navigational Watch, or as the Third Mate.

    Requirements for taking this exam:
    • An approved Sea-going Service as:
      a.) Apprentice Mate or Deck Cadet for at least twelve (12) months on board sea going ship of 500 Gross Tonnage or more.
      b.) Ordinary Seaman and Able Bodied Seaman with at least twelve (12) months seagoing service on board ship of 500 gross tonnage or more shall be allowed to take the written or walk-in licensure examination. However, if the applicant passed the said examination, he shall not be issued Certificate of Competency and Endorsement Certificate until he completes the thirty six (36) months seagoing service.
      c.) Other positions such as Deck Trainee / Deck Assistant / Deck Boy / Messman / Bosun with at least thirty six (36) months seagoing service on board ship of 500 gross tonnage or more.
    • Proof of Sea Service:
      Several certificates and papers proving your work experience as a seamen.
  • Chief Mate Licensure Examination

    Required for work as a First Mate/First Officer.

    Requirements for taking this exam:
    • An approved Sea-going Service in the Operational Level of at least twelve (12) months on board sea-going ship of 500 gross tonnage or more.
    • Proof of Sea Service:
      Several certificates and papers proving your work experience as a seamen.
  • Master Mariner Licensure Examination

    Required for working as a Master Mariner, Chief Officer or a Designated Person Ashore (DPA).

    Requirements for taking this exam:
    • An approved Sea-going Service:
      a) At least 12 months sea service onboard sea-going ship of 500 gross tonnages or more as Chief Mate.
      b) At least 36 months sea service onboard sea-going ship of 500 gross tonnages or more in the Operational Level.
      c) At least 36 months sea service onboard sea-going ship of 500 gross tonnages or more both in the Operational and Management Level.
    • Proof of Sea Service:
      Several certificates and papers proving your work experience as a seamen.

Career opportunities for BSMT graduates

  • Jobs for Licensed Marine Deck Officers

    • Officer-in-Charge of a Navigational Watch – this job involves responsibilities regarding avoidance of collision and grounding, as well as watchkeeping at sea.
    • Chief Mate – also called the First Mate or First Officer, a Chief Mate serves as the head of the deck department of a merchant vessel. This job involves being in charge of the ships cargo and deck crew.
    • Master Mariner – this job entails serving as the person in command of a commercial ship or vessel.
    • Merchant Marine Officer – this job entails serving as officers or ship crew whose duties include navigation, operation of engines, electronics and radio communication, as well as providing food for the ships crew.
    • Maritime Education and Training Officer – this job is like being a professor or instructor and involves training other students to become competent marine deck officers.
    • Philippine Coast Guard Officer – this involves working in the maritime security organization in the Philippines, whose role is to conduct search and rescue operations, to enforce Philippine Maritime Laws, to ensure the safety of ships and vessels, to maintain seamarks, as well as to maintain border control. Examples of positions in the Philippine Coast Guard are Seaman Second Class, Seaman First Class, Petty Officer, Senior Chief Petty Officer, Master Chief Petty Officer, and Lieutenant Senior Grade.
    • Naval Officer – this involves working at the naval warfare service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This involves protecting the country from terrorists and sea piracy, conducting underwater reconnaissance, capturing enemy targets, as well as collecting intelligence information. Examples of positions in the Philippine Navy are Radioman, Third Class, Electricians Mate, First Class, Seaman First, Hospital Corpsman, and Gunners Mate Chief.
  • Career Opportunities Abroad

    There are job opportunities abroad for Filipino marine officers and seamen, however the number of positions is limited. (source 1 , source 2)
  • Salary Levels

    Since graduates of BS in Marine Transportation can pursue different careers, the salary varies greatly. According to the International Labor Organizations (ILO) Subcommittee on Wages of Seafarers, the approved consolidated minimum wage as of December 2013 ranges from USD 1,028 3,462 per month, depending on the rank/position. (source)

Reviews of BS in Marine Transportation graduates:

Richard Joehlan F. Jovero
Studied BS in Marine Transportation
at John B. Lacson Colleges Foundation Maritime University - Arevalo , Iloilo City
Graduated: 2011

Why did I choose this course:
I have chosen this course because of the probability of a good scholarship and an ensured employment.

About my college education:
Marine transportation is a course for those who someday would want to be captains of a ship. Simple language would say that you will work on the deck of the ship, not with the engines.

In this course we have two major subjects namely Navigation and Seamanship. Navigation is more on calculation. We are taught how to calculate distances across the seas using different tools and formulas. We are also taught how to pinpoint your geographical location on the globe using heavenly bodies (sun, stars, moon). The rules of the road are also taught as well as the Laws of the sea in accordance to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of the United Nations.

With Seamanship, the disciplines of a good seafarer is practiced. It is more on the behavior of the ship, cargo handling, maintenance, and maneuvering. We are taught how the ship would move on the water at different depths, how to do proper paint application, we are taught how and where to place the cargoes on the ship, and we are given techniques on how to stir the ship.

Regular students will be graduating as Associate graduates from the school and will leave the school to find their own way to the companies that will hire you as a deck cadet (trainee).

If you are persevered and had a shipping company, you will be an undergraduate student who will be on a ship on the 3rd year. There will be an allowance as you stay on a ship, this depends of course to the company you are in. You will then comeback on your fourth year to finish school and chances are, as you graduate, you will be absorbed by the company you have served with. Upon completion of the requirements then you will have acquired a BS MT diploma.

This is not an easy job. The ship and the sea requires a truck load of patience, hard work, perseverance, and courage. There are some things to do that you need to get dirty, use all your muscles and most of all your brain in analyzing situations. You need to be socially active to promote camaraderie to your work mates for every single day of you life, you will be boxed on a ship and you will see each other, work together throughout your contract.

Compared to engineering Maths, this course would look simple. But on a ship, on a multi-million dollar worth of vehicle and cargo carried that you are driving, every decision you make is worth a lot of money and the lives of your colleagues. Our subjects are complicated, but you need to know everything, health, environment, laws, physics, chemistry, math, analogy, social responsibility, etc. All because of what is at stake, life and money.

My current job:
I am currently an officer trainee.

I have taken the exams for my license as a Officer in charge of a Navigational Watch. I will be learning the job of a 3rd Officer which is the maintenance of safety equipment on board, having a navigational watch and a deck watch (a watch during the loading/ unloading of cargo). If my superiors deem me worthy I will be recommended for a promotion to 3rd Officer.

Am I using what I learned in college:
In great honesty, almost half of what I learned in school is rendered useless. Only the basics are learned in school: theories, origins, history, simple application. This is why the apprenticeship (OJT) is a very crucial part of your education. This is where you learn all the practicalities, new techniques, new equipment and the actual dealing with people and their different personalities.

How long did it take to find a job after graduation:
Since I was a company sponsored scholar, after graduation, the office helped us financially with the board exams and absorbed us after completion of required documents for a seafarer.

Do I recommend studying BS in Marine Transportation:
Yes. If a person has a drive for success and he works hard, his chances in this industry is big. The entry on the companies will be the most difficult as to this requires patience, money and good attitude. But once you're in, the opportunities would present itself.

If you are accepted as a trainee on an internationally trading ship, you would get about php 22000 or more, depending on the company. Plus you will be visiting different places. One challenge though, "can you handle the home sickness and the waves of the sea?"

Advice to people who are thinking of studying this course:
If you want to take this course, I suggest you ace the entrance exams and apply for a company sponsored scholarship, to ensure your future employment. You will need money for the additional training.

Your health should be in great standing. This course will test your will and your purpose. The job is never easy. As my teaches says, as your board your ship one of your foot is already on a grave.
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