Offshore opportunities for IT professionals?

first of all I present myself: European, late twenties, Software Engineer, currently working in Germany (far from the sea, far from Hamburg or Kiel), no family…I’m interested in spending a few years (or more than a few) aboard a ship (cargo or cruise). Yes, I know that it’s probably not as cool as it might seem, especially when you are in deep sea during a storm in the night…but it’s still an interesting experience.

As far as I’ve been able to find out, the only role that might match my skillset is “Computer Officer”, which I saw in some cruise company website…is this all?

I might be willing to retrain myself as an Officer and completely change career, but before start thinking about throwing away years of University study and professional experience, and spending a good percentage of my savings…I’d like to have more information…

I’m sure that there must be somebody aboard experienced in IT systems, even if the ones installed inside cargo or cruise ships are probably very very resilient…
Regarding the location…I’d prefer to be based “somewhere” in Europe…


You are probably not going to find much need for an IT tech on a cargo ship. A cruise ship would be the better option, however cruise lines are historicaly low paying, even though they have very good fringe benefits. In my opinion your best option would be on a drill ship or rig in the north sea. Most drilling rigs will have a IT guy of some kind on board. The last one I was on the IT guys only job was to keep the internet running and the satelite TV on. Sometimes they have double duties like also being the clerk. The money would be much better than a cruise line, for sure. but no where near the travel and adventure and basically never going into port anywhere. Check the job thread on here or try rigzone.

I’ve been in IT for 20 years and am trying to get back on a boat as a cook (was a cook on a few vessels 20 years ago) and the best bet in the states for an offshore IT position would be a research vessel. The EPA R/V that I worked on had an extensive computer lab as well as an on board IT guy. Not sure about R/V’s in northern Europe, I’d check the universities first. You’d have a much better shot if you were a network admin rather than a code jockey though. As far as cruise ships… as much as I want to get back on a boat I’d probably pass on those.

Yes most of the large offshore rigs have IT guys but most of them are hired as electronics technicians and need to have experience in that field to get the job.

That said if you do have ET experience (military or industrial preferred) and training (military or a 2 year degree) plus have IT experience then you should have no trouble finding a job with any of the major drillers.

If not you can take an entry level job and prove yourself on the job if your willing to work a few hours of non-paid overtime (in addition to the normal 12 hr workday) each day with the ET’s. BUT, a warning, this option only seems to work for guys with solid skills, a positive easy-going attitude and small egos.

As far as I know, there are very few traditional , i.e. Windows, Unix, Solaris based systems on board ships or offshore. As the admin said, they are primarily integrated systems that require an ET rather than a software designer. It really depends on what you specialize in and how familiar you are with network infrastructures, specifically routers, switches, load balancing, etc. and even then, the only larger scale traditional IT systems I’ve seen are on research vessels. If you have a CS degree or have an established career as a software developer you’d have to do some major career restructuring. If I was you I’d probably save a few euros and take one of the slots that some cargo vessels keep for civilians that want to travel from one port to another… just to check it out. I was in the Navy and love being on boats but no… it’s not always exiting, that’s for sure. If you haven’t spent time on a boat yet don’t spend time and money just to satisfy idle curiosity.

If I’d like to change career and move to the maritime world, is the only way a 3-year course in a Naval University? Is 33-35 years (considering when I would finish at the minimum a course like this) too late to start a new life in this world?