IN THE early 1970s, when Captain Ramli Mordipi completed his O levels, there was no career guidance to help young people choose their jobs.
However, he took it as an opportunity to realise his childhood dream of travelling the globe.
"NOL, our national shipping line, was then building its fleet of ships and required seafarers to man the ships.
"Scholarships were given to those interested in pursuing sea careers as deck officers and engineers," says Capt Ramli, 60.
He won a scholarship in 1972 for a diploma in nautical studies from Singapore Polytechnic.
His first job upon graduation - as a second officer with Neptune Orient Lines - took him to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States.
He has been in the maritime industry for 42 years, with the past 11 years spent as a marine superintendent with Hong Lam Marine, a bunker craft operator.
This job involves overseeing the daily operations of the company's fleet of ships.
"A ship's operations need constant attention. We are a locally based company but our operations stretch to other regions including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
"Therefore the superintendent has to prepare to travel at short notice to attend to operational needs when an urgent matter arises that requires the shore personnel's support and advice.
"For instance, when a vessel trading out of Singapore waters needs to undergo an audit, the superintendent needs to be on board to support the ship's master during the inspection."
In-depth knowledge of the maritime industry and communication skills are the primary requirements of the job, says Capt Ramli.
"The modern seafarer must also be willing to learn and enhance his knowledge and skill in technology in modern shipping operations or when in a new environment, such as new marine craft like a gas carrier, oil rig or deep sea surveyor."
For him, a maritime career is one that is full of life experiences. "As a seafarer, you see deep blue seas, dolphins jumping and, at night, thousands of stars.
"And now as a superintendent, it is very rewarding for me to use my experience to help and support those who have sacrificed their family time to go to sea."