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What is a Ship Mate?

Job Description & Duties Supervise or coordinate activities of crew aboard ships, boats, barges, or dredges.

List of Ship Mate Job Duties

  • Stand watches on vessels during specified periods while vessels are under way.
  • Arrange for ships to be stocked, fueled, or repaired.
  • Steer vessels, using navigational devices, such as compasses or sextants, or navigational aids, such as lighthouses or buoys.
  • Inspect equipment, such as cargo-handling gear, lifesaving equipment, visual-signaling equipment, or fishing, towing, or dredging gear, to detect problems.
  • Assume command of vessels in the event that ships' masters become incapacitated.
  • Observe water from ships' mastheads to advise on navigational direction.

What a Ship Mate Should Know

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.

Other Ship Mate Job Titles

  • Dredge Mate
  • Fourth Mate
  • Fourth Officer
  • Tugboat Mate
  • Boatswain’s Mate

Ship Mate Employment Estimates

In the United States, there were 38,800 jobs for Ship Mate 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 Mate by 2026. There will be an estimated 4,400 positions for Ship Mate per year.


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

Ship Mates make between $35,410 and $144,690 a year.


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

How much do Ship Mates make in each U.S. state?

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

Tools & Technologies Used by Ship Mates

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Ship Mates may use on a daily basis:

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

How to Become a Ship Mate

Learn what Ship Mate education requirements there are.


How Long Does it Take to Become a Ship Mate?


Ship Mates Sector


Ship Mates work in the following industries:



Image Credit: via CC0 Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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