Do I need job experience to work as a photographer on ships?

Pia (Philippines) asked me via DM on Twitter…

… I am really thinking about applying as a cruise ship photographer but I am having second thoughts since I don’t have any job experience related to photography, I am more of a hobbyist. May I ask if you had any prior job experience in the field of photography when you applied for the job as a cruise ship photographer?

She also mentioned that her education was in Hospitality and that her only job experience was a brief stint working as a barista.

I replied…

To work on ships, you’ll need a Seaman’s book. To get a Seaman’s book, you’ll need proof of training and professional experience for the position you are applying for. There are many positions available on ships. Go for something you have work experience in. Dining & bar people earn better than photographers — they typically require minimum 1 year professional experience working in 5-star hotel/restaurants.

On a public tweet, I added…

Working on #ships is no joke. Yes, you need #work experience. Company might not care, but PH gov’t does. You need docs to get Seaman’s Book.

As far as I know, when applying for a Seaman’s Book in the Philippines, the MARINA requires proof of education or training AND proof of prior experience in the position you will have on ships.

You don’t need a degree or long course in Photography. A certificate showing that you’ve completed training in Photography will suffice, even if it’s just a basic course.

Again, the company or cruise line hiring you might not care whether you had training or not, but to get your Seaman’s Book you will be at the mercy of MARINA. You have to comply and meet their requirements. See my series on How To Become A Cruise Ship Photographer for all that you need to go through to work on ships.

For more information, do visit the manning agencies. They are the best source of up-to-date info on MARINA requirements.

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Cruise Ship Photographer

required job qualifications

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