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post #1 of 15 Old 09-20-2007 Thread Starter
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Computers on Ships

Not sure where to post this question and this does not seem to be the right place either but its not quite off topic material.

I am looking for a new job and have taken an interest in sailing lately. My job experience is "IT generalist" but I have a computer science degree. I doubt sailing ships have need of dedicated IT support staff but do larger ships have need of such things? What kinds of jobs do they have aboard besides communication gear operator/maintenance? If someone has a pointer to a jobs site for marine postings I would appreciate it.
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post #2 of 15 Old 09-20-2007
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Have you considered joining the Navy? Perhaps even some involvement with teaching computer technology at the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

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post #3 of 15 Old 09-20-2007
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Today's cruise ships have huge IT infrastructures, often with dozens or hundreds of servers and large scale LANs on board, operating everything from navigation through point of sale through casino operations through security. I can't point you in any particular direction, but you might want to look at the cruise line websites for job applications.

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post #4 of 15 Old 09-20-2007 Thread Starter
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A cruise ship would be interesting. I did consider that but I am always suspicious of something that sounds that good.

I did consider the navy. I had contact lens implants a couple of years ago and they rejected me on that basis. It was actually the Army but the Navy never returned my calls so I assume they have the same doctors. In a few years it be as accepted as laser surgery but it is a bit new for them now I guess.
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-20-2007
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From what I understand, working on a cruise ship is a lot different from being a vacationer on a cruise ship. Ship's quarters are small, privacy is scarce, working hours are long and you are in international waters a lot of the time (meaning the company can come up with their own laws).

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post #6 of 15 Old 09-20-2007
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If you want to get into Maritime IT, I'd suggest downloading copies of the installation regulations/standards and becoming familiar with the equipment used on the majority of the world's shipping. The main regulatory bodies involved are:

- Lloyd's Register (LR)
- Bureau Veritas (BV)
- Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
- American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
- Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)

Although there are a host of others, these are the main ones. Do a web search for the standards of each of these and get familiar with them.

Remember that Maritime IT is not restricted to just a few office computers and servers (although there will certainly be that) - you must come up to speed with digital radar, GPS, radio and satellite comms and protocols especially AIS and GMDSS.

If you have experience with amateur radio, that would help. Search the web sites of the main navigation equipment suppliers like Thales, Raytheon, etc.. and good luck.

--Cameron
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post #7 of 15 Old 09-20-2007
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On commercial ships, I doubt there's any full-time IT position since they really try to go almost crewless in order to keep costs to the bone. On cruise lines--you are looking at something arguably worse: A combination of the 'hospitality industry' and shipping, each of which generally believes that pond scum can be whipped into working harder and for less money, and easily replaced if they object. A lot like corporate IT in many ways--but you don't get to go home at night, you get a bunk bed in a shared cabin, indoors, below decks, with instructions not to fraternize with the paying passengers.

I think you'd do better to try finding a job in corporate IT in one of the fields that pays well (security, etc.) or possibly in casino security operations (and then moving to a shipboard casino, since security has some limits to hours and some extra pay) in a shop that is big enough to have shifts, so you get time off--when you can take some of that hard-earned pay and go sailing on your own with it.

A lot of corporate IT shops want 20 year olds with 20 years of experience, willing and outright eager to work 80 hour weeks at 40 hour pay. Those are the shops that will promise you lots of excitment and growth--and burn you out fast. Interview them, and screen them, agressively to avoid getting stuck in one.
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-20-2007
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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
On commercial ships, I doubt there's any full-time IT position since they really try to go almost crewless in order to keep costs to the bone. On cruise lines--you are looking at something arguably worse: A combination of the 'hospitality industry' and shipping, each of which generally believes that pond scum can be whipped into working harder and for less money, and easily replaced if they object. A lot like corporate IT in many ways--but you don't get to go home at night, you get a bunk bed in a shared cabin, indoors, below decks, with instructions not to fraternize with the paying passengers.
It depends what you're willing to put up with, I suppose... Some people don't mind shared quarters in steerage if it means an interesting and varied job.

IT positions on cruise liners and mega-yachts certainly do exist and will become more so as ships get bigger (thinking "The World" and things like that).

One thing is for sure - your typical "IT" role might be only 5% of the job, so if that is all you're good at, forget it.

--Cameron
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-20-2007
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Consider going into the consulting side of IT. I officially live on a sail boat in Texas (no state income tax) and work all over the country. Currently in the SF bay area and sailing out of Sausalito this weekend. Two weeks ago I was camping in the Rio Chama Wilderness in NM hiking the continental divide trail.
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post #10 of 15 Old 09-21-2007 Thread Starter
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Regarding cruise ships and the conditions. That is kinda what I figured they would be like. It just seems like to much of a dream job that their would have to be a big downside since people would want to do it. If people want to do it then corporate will find a way to exploit it. The cramped quarters and lack of privacy would not be a big issue. If I can plan to join the Navy then a cruise ship can't be worse than that. Except for maybe the potential for beatings in international waters, the Navy probably does not do that.

The general reason I am looking into this is that I am kinda burned out on IT related things. A break or a different angle on IT(maybe radar,radio satellite comms etc) will help to reenergize me. I agree about the money to be made in IT its pretty hard to beat. It used to be that I loved my job so it was a win-win but atm I would rather get less money and do something I liked.

Thanks for the pointers and advice everyone. I will post back here with anything interesting I find for others who may have the same questions.
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