Although 79% of all electricians work in the construction industry or are self-employed, the rest of professionals in this field work in a number of other industries ranging from federal, state and local government to transportation and travel. This is good news for electricians that would like to take the road less traveled and shoot for a career that will allow them to spend their days at sea instead of on a construction site.
Electricians on cruise ships must have the same education and skills as electricians that work on construction sites and in other industries. In addition, cruise lines prefer individuals with at least some experience working on boats and other vessels. You can begin your electrician training through an apprenticeship program. According to United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Apprenticeship programs combine paid on-the-job training with related classroom instruction. Joint training committees made up of local unions of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and local chapters of the National Electrical Contractors Association; individual electrical contracting companies; or local chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors and the Independent Electrical Contractors Association usually sponsor apprenticeship programs.
Because of the comprehensive training received, those who complete apprenticeship programs qualify to do both maintenance and construction work. Apprenticeship programs usually last 4 years. Each year includes at least 144 hours of classroom instruction and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. In the classroom, apprentices learn electrical theory, blueprint reading, mathematics, electrical code requirements, and safety and first aid practices. They also may receive specialized training in soldering, communications, fire alarm systems, and cranes and elevators. On the job, apprentices work under the supervision of experienced electricians.”
Electrician jobs on cruise ships can be found in the deck & engineering department. The Deck & Engineering Department is one of the most important departments on the vessel –without it the ship would never set sail. This department is responsible for maintaining and running the vessel. Please note that the positions in this department are not typically entry-level positions, especially on large ships. The department consists of deckhands, maintenance workers, engineers, and officers. These positions help to motor or sail the ship, attend to the physical maintenance needs of the ship, and keep it in accordance with fleet regulations and international maritime laws. Officers are in charge of passenger safety as well.
When you are ready to apply for a position on a cruise line, visit the OFFICIAL cruise line website first. For a directory of all cruise lines, visit Ships and Cruises Directory for official listings. Once you have located cruise line of your choice and the website, visit the website and search around for job postings. Most cruise line websites have a career center or job postings page. If the cruise line lists job openings, be sure to follow the application procedure to the letter. If the cruise line does not list job openings on its site, send a polished cover letter and resume to the cruise lines Human Resources Department. The Human Resources Department is typically located at the cruise lines headquarters. This information is usually listed on the cruise line website as well. It is important to include the position you are interested in so that it can be directed to the appropriate department manager. If you need a little help or you prefer to sign up with a placement agency, read our article “How to Choose a Placement Agency” by
About Working on Cruise Ships
So what’s it like working on cruise ships? For starters, it’s fun. Next, there’s lots of freedom. And finally, just about everything is free. Now, just how much fun, freedom, and free stuff you will enjoy will depend on where you fall in the ship hierarchy. Let us explain. Ship employees fall into one of three main categories: officer, staff, and crew. Officers are at the top of the hierarchy. They wear the stripes and enjoy superior accommodations. They also have free access to all ship facilities, and they enjoy the highest salaries. Captains average anywhere from $6,000-$10,000+ per month, staff captains typically earn $5,000-$7,000 per month, and first officers earn around $4,000-$5,000 per month. Can you imagine earning this amount of money plus paid expenses?
Staff members (not staff captains) are second in the hierarchy. These individuals work in retail shops, casinos, and spas. They are also photographers, entertainers, cruise staff, and concession staff. These individuals enjoy unlimited access to passenger areas and they are allowed more time off in port than officers. Most officers have to remain onboard in order to “man” the ship while docked. Staff member salaries vary greatly depending on the position. For example, hospitality managers may earn anywhere from $4,000-$4,800 per month, while retail salespersons may earn $1,400-2,000 per month.
Crewmembers are last in the hierarchy. These individuals make up the largest population of workers on the ship. Crewmembers are non-managerial bar and restaurant personnel, cleaning staff, cabin stewards, galley and laundry personnel, and deck hands. Crewmembers do not have as many privileges as officers and staff members. They have access to the “crew bar,” and they must share accommodations with one or more co-workers. That said, there are several advantages to being a crewmember.
Crewmembers make a significant amount of income in tips, they have lots of room to grow, and they can spend more time having fun at various ports of call rather than remaining on the ship. It is not uncommon for crewmembers to turn down a promotion if it means losing his freedom and his tips! Crewmembers salaries vary greatly depending on the position. For example, a cocktail waiter may earn around $1,600-$2,400 per month, while laundry staff may earn anywhere from $1,000-$1,400 per month.
Now that you know how things work on board, your place, and how much you can expect to make, it’s time to gather your belongings and head out to sea. Most new ship employees end up packing everything but the kitchen sink on their first working trip. Fortunately, you don’t have to bring much. Remember, ships are like little cities at sea. You will have access to grocery stores, clothing stores, pharmacies, salons, health clubs, bookstores, libraries, cyber cafes, and more, so the most important things to remember are: all of your identifying information (passport, driver’s license, state ID, Insurance cards, etc.), and any medications (or prescriptions). If you’re an entertainer, don’t forget your costume, accessories, and any necessary equipment. For all workers, check with the ship ahead of time to inquire about dress codes, but more than likely, you will have to wear a uniform while working. So, that’s it – you’re ready to go!
For more information about cruise ship jobs, pick up a copy of Working on Cruise Ships by Sandra Bow (Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Connecticut).