WAYPOINT - Sources of professionalism

01 Jun 2015 The Navigator

Dr Andy Norris, an active Fellow of The Nautical Institute and the Royal Institute of Navigation, looks at how professional organisations and bodies play a vital part in developing and furthering careers

A navigational role on the bridge of a ship certainly requires professionalism – it’s very demanding and requires continually enhanced levels of knowledge and skills. Here, we look at how professional bodies give help in this area.
A professional body is often seen as a non-profit organisation, working in a defined area to maintain the best ability and knowledge of its members. You are reading a publication issued for free by The Nautical Institute (NI) and supported by the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN). These are both very relevant professional bodies to the marine navigator. Their websites have a lot of free information available that takes you well beyond the fundamental training of bridge officers, thereby helping to increase your professional knowledge. It’s also worth exploring the websites of other relevant professional bodies.
Of course, there are other professional organisations that are not personal memberbased, which can also provide invaluable information, easily accessible online, to help to develop mariners’ skills and knowledge. Many national maritime safety agencies give access to official documents, as do marine accident investigating authorities. Not least, as downloaded pdfs, accident reports are easy to scan through to pick out the relevant facts – and these may inspire a more detailed read-through. The websites of P&I Clubs also have valuable information. The free-to-access maritime press websites can be handy too in keeping you updated with the latest issues.


Your professional body needs you!
Despite all the freely available information on good websites that can enhance professionalism, it is also well worth considering becoming a member of an appropriate professional body. They provide easy access to extra information only available to members. For instance, they typically issue a regular magazine, full of very readable articles that can be useful sources of professional development in themselves.
Professional bodies also tend to run full programmes of meetings and conferences. Regional meetings are generally free to attend (but not always their conferences!). There are also often bursaries available for training, or free mentoring schemes – cost need not be a barrier to effective ongoing learning. Major publishing contributions are also typical of many professional bodies, offered to members at reduced price. The NI publishes many books for professional mariners, including some of the best known titles in the industry. The RIN is internationally known for its publication, Journal of Navigation, available to RIN members for free in digital format.
Another interest of many professional bodies is involvement in matters of legislation affecting their members. This means that members are kept well informed about relevant changes in legislation, a crucial area of continuing professional development.
Finally, it is also worth pointing out that ‘visible’ membership of an appropriate professional body is generally very helpful in furthering your career, both at sea and when you want to move to an onshore position that benefits from sea-going experience.

Some free (English language) websites that aid professionalism on the bridge:

International Maritime Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
Marine Accident Investigators’ International Forum
International Group of P&I Clubs
Australian Transport Safety Bureau
US National Maritime Centre
US National Transportation Board
UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency
The Nautical Institute
The Royal Institute of Navigation

Contact RIN at: www.rin.org.uk | 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AT | Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 3134