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Careers and Jobs in Ballast Water

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Okay, the title should not be taken literally by everyone. Yes, there are ballast water jobs where you will be wet, like tank inspection or cleaning. The majority of the jobs fall under the testing and regulation category which is much less physically intensive but no less challenging.

If you are wondering about jobs in ballast water there is a good chance that you know some basics of ballast water operations. You have also probably read the IMO ballast water documents including the pending conventions. If not, take a look at some of our ballast water topics for review.

The Basic Categories

This list only covers the basic divisions of jobs in this field. There are many opportunities where these tasks are blended. Likewise a single motivation is not required; a job seeker can enjoy shipboard work and still have an interest in the environment. Often these hybrid interests lead to some of the most innovative solutions because more data and understanding is available to the dual interest worker.

Academics/Research

This is the easiest way to get involved with ballast water. As a student you have the benefit of knowing little while being exposed to emerging ideas.

The progression from student to assistant and researcher is well tested and accepted. The path to any research job runs through some sort of school or training program.

Students often ask if a certain school is a good choice. That's almost impossible to answer since I don't really know the person. The better way to answer this is looking for professional journal articles. Researchers publish as part of their job so if you find someone with a good reputation and interesting writing see if you can get into a program at their institution.

When searching for scholarly articles look at organizations like the IMO but also chemistry and biology journals since those are common disciplines for ballast water careers.

There is some possibility of finding a technical program just for ballast water but in most cases there will be some basic science classes and be ready to find plenty of programs with four years of science before entering a graduate program focused on ballast water.

Regulation/Administration

This segment probably employs the most people. This type of job might be in policy creation for government or private organizations or it can be in an enforcement role with plenty of time on the water.

Illegal dumping of untreated water is a problem everywhere around the globe and these jobs will take you to the great cities of the world or a sleepy coastal town with a rare snail to protect.

It's worth noting that many of the same skills are used by academics and regulators and it's not uncommon to see people shift to a different segment during their career. Knowing people and current issues makes this possible, please don't be surprised that most of these positions also require formal education.

Some entry level jobs are available but it will be something like deckhand on a research vessel and may not deal directly with ballast water. Let potential employers know about your interest in ballast water by listing it among your interests on social media and job search profiles. The people you need to talk to won't find this odd.

Operations

Somebody needs to build and operate these ballast water systems.

A vessel will have an officer in charge of ballast water monitoring. This person might be the master on small vessels. Since ballast water is tied tightly to performance and safety it's important to understand the implications of clearing the tanks early in all sorts of weather.

The skills necessary for this type of job come from a maritime specialty school. Certifications and experience are gained slowly while working on board ships. This is helpful to the beginner since ship rank and title change with responsibilities.

The increased testing for skills that comes with the STCW 2010 amendments is an advantage since more frequent testing means more opportunities to officially add skills to your license.

You may start off in regular ship operations but the move to ballast water management comes with additional training which is often paid by your employer.

The most important thing is to follow current events in ballast water and get to know what you can before searching for a job. Even without experience, a good grasp of the topic might get you opportunities not available to others.

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