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Life As a Ship Captain

Position Description Command vessels in oceans, bays, lakes, rivers, or coastal waters.

List of Ship Captain Job Duties

  • Inspect vessels to ensure efficient and safe operation of vessels and equipment and conformance to regulations.
  • Signal crew members or deckhands to rig tow lines, open or close gates or ramps, or pull guard chains across entries.
  • Steer and operate vessels, using radios, depth finders, radars, lights, buoys, or lighthouses.
  • Arrange for ships to be fueled, restocked with supplies, or repaired.
  • Signal passing vessels, using whistles, flashing lights, flags, or radios.
  • Maintain boats or equipment on board, such as engines, winches, navigational systems, fire extinguishers, or life preservers.

Qualities of a Ship Captain

These are the skills Ship Captains say are the most useful in their careers:

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

  • Sling Operator
  • Towboat Captain
  • Tug Captain
  • Harbor Tug Captain
  • Ship Captain

Is There Job Demand for Ship Captains?

In the United States, there were 38,800 jobs for Ship Captain in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 8.8% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 3,400 new jobs for Ship Captain by 2026. There will be an estimated 4,400 positions for Ship Captain per year.

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The states with the most job growth for Ship Captain are Nevada, Georgia, and Tennessee. Watch out if you plan on working in Kentucky, Indiana, or Oregon. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Ship Captain

The typical yearly salary for Ship Captains is somewhere between $35,410 and $144,690.

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Ship Captains who work in Texas, Oregon, or Maryland, make the highest salaries.

How much do Ship Captains make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $79,750
Alaska $72,570
California $70,840
Delaware $74,790
Florida $78,880
Georgia $73,410
Hawaii $52,830
Illinois $67,020
Iowa $75,600
Kentucky $79,130
Louisiana $93,010
Maine $61,410
Maryland $86,460
Massachusetts $57,700
Michigan $83,040
Minnesota $73,910
New Hampshire $51,490
New Jersey $75,170
New York $95,370
North Carolina $55,710
Ohio $47,810
Oregon $100,150
Pennsylvania $74,780
South Carolina $67,090
Tennessee $54,480
Texas $103,950
Virginia $77,370
Washington $90,890
Wisconsin $48,190

What Tools do Ship Captains Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Ship Captains:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Autodesk Revit
  • Computerized maintenance management system CMMS
  • Log book software
  • Jeppesen Marine Nobeltec Admiral
  • Maptech The CAPN
  • KNMI TurboWin

Becoming a Ship Captain

Are there Ship Captains education requirements?

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What work experience do I need to become a Ship Captain?

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Ship Captains Sector

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The table below shows the approximate number of Ship Captains employed by various industries.

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Similar Careers

Career changers with experience as a Ship Captain sometimes find work in one of the following fields:

References:

Image Credit: via CC0 Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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