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What Does it Take to Be a Ship Mate?

Position Description Supervise or coordinate activities of crew aboard ships, boats, barges, or dredges.

Life As a Ship Mate: What Do They Do?

  • Participate in activities related to maintenance of vessel security.
  • Supervise crews in cleaning or maintaining decks, superstructures, or bridges.
  • Supervise crew members in the repair or replacement of defective gear or equipment.
  • Steer vessels, using navigational devices, such as compasses or sextants, or navigational aids, such as lighthouses or buoys.
  • Assume command of vessels in the event that ships’ masters become incapacitated.
  • Determine geographical positions of ships, using lorans, azimuths of celestial bodies, or computers, and use this information to determine the course and speed of a ship.

Ship Mate Required Skills

Ship Mates state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

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.

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

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Types of Ship Mate Jobs

  • Tugboat Mate
  • First Officer
  • Vessel Master
  • Dredge Mate
  • Relief Mate

Job Demand for Ship Mates

There were about 38,800 jobs for Ship Mate in 2016 (in the United States). 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 Mate by 2026. The BLS estimates 4,400 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Ship Mates in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Ship Mate 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.

What is the Average Salary of a Ship Mate

The salary for Ship Mates ranges between about $35,410 and $144,690 a year.

Salary Ranges for Ship Mates

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

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Ship Mates 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 & Technology do Ship Mates Use?

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

  • Computerized maintenance management system CMMS
  • Log book software
  • KNMI TurboWin
  • Jeppesen Marine Nobeltec Admiral
  • Maptech The CAPN

How to Become a Ship Mate

What education is needed to be a Ship Mate?

Ship Mate Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Ship Mate Work Experience

Where Ship Mates Work

Ship Mate Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Ship Mate Industries


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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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