Even as unemployment rates in Kenya continue to spike and graduates continue to lament about lack of opportunities in the job market, there are several rewarding careers that are often overlooked by students.
One example is in the sailing industry. There are courses that can lead to great, long-lasting jobs for young Kenyans.
However, the problem is that students usually don't explore these options. This can be attributed to a lack of comprehensive information or apprehensions as students prefer to stick to what they think is safe and popular.
One job that's often overlooked is being a ship captain. Not many people get to have this job.
While many of these professionals find employment in foreign countries, the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) is working to expand opportunities for aspiring ship captains within the country.
Another reason why this course is undersubscribed is lack of sensitisation and proper guidance on what the course is all about.
This is made worse by the fact that in most cases, students who have just completed high school pursue careers recommended to them by family which might not necessarily be their own preferred option.
This article will focus on the step-by-step process an individual goes through to become a successful sea captain in Kenya.
To become a ship captain, young professionals are required to undertake a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nautical Science from an accredited institution.
The Bandari Maritime Academy (BMA) offers this program. The curriculum focuses on nurturing essential mathematical, analytical, and problem-solving proficiencies.
Completing the Nautical Studies Module 1 Diploma demands about a year's commitment. However, for a comprehensive learning experience, the full-time course spans three years. The cost for each module is approximately Ksh140,000.
As a prerequisite, prospective students to score a minimum grade of C-.
Students have the option to enroll in a craft certificate program in Nautical Sciences, spanning two years and costing Ksh125,000 per module.
Eligibility requires a minimum grade of D plain. Examinations are overseen by both the Kenya Maritime Authority and the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC).
Another pathway involves becoming a cadet and undergoing an 18-month training period on board a ship, followed by subsequent courses at the Maritime Academy.
Additionally, the Indian Ocean Maritime Training Centre (IOMTC) offers internationally recognised boat handling qualifications, being an overseas Royal Yachting Association (UK) training center.
These steps are just the initial phases of the long journey towards becoming a ship captain.
The overarching process spans 12 years, progressing through various classes from Class Four (first) to Class One (final).
Each class level necessitates six months of coursework accompanied by a substantial commitment to gaining practical sea experience.
The rigorous journey ensures that aspiring ship captains are thoroughly prepared to undertake the responsibilities synonymous with commanding a vessel.
The whole journey requires a good grasp of Maths, Physics, and Geography.
Other required skills include; discipline, problem-solving, physical strength in case of threats, and willingness to learn.
A potential disqualifying factor in this sector is colour blindness, as ship captains heavily rely on colour-coded signals.
Salary & Perks
Captain Davis Mule, a former Navy Ship captain, in a previous interview, highlighted the significant advantages of a shipboard career.
Apart from the convenience of onboard accommodations, ship captains have the unique privilege of exploring new locations and interacting with diverse cultures.
"When working at sea, the salary is good. You do not pay taxes, you don't pay rent or have personal expenditures.
In the United States, for instance, the average annual salary for a ship captain stands at about Ksh11.8 million, contingent on the work location.
Notably, according to Cruise Critic, a cruise ship captain garners an average annual income of Ksh21.7 million.
It's worth noting that this remuneration is dispensed in US dollars, further stressing the appeal of the position.