Find Schools

Study Area & Zipcode

Pilots, Ship

Find Schools Near

Life As a Ship Pilot

Job Description: Command ships to steer them into and out of harbors, estuaries, straits, or sounds, or on rivers, lakes, or bays. Must be licensed by U.S. Coast Guard with limitations indicating class and tonnage of vessels for which license is valid and route and waters that may be piloted.

What do Ship Pilots do On a Daily Basis?

  • Set ships’ courses that avoid reefs, outlying shoals, or other hazards, using navigational aids, such as lighthouses or buoys.
  • Provide assistance to vessels approaching or leaving seacoasts, navigating harbors, or docking and undocking.
  • Prevent ships under their navigational control from engaging in unsafe operations.
  • Serve as a vessel’s docking master upon arrival at a port or when at a berth.
  • Advise ships’ masters on harbor rules and customs procedures.
  • Learn to operate new technology systems and procedures, through the use of instruction, simulators, or models.

Ship Pilot Needed Skills

Below is a list of the skills most Ship Pilots say are important on the job.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

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

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.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Types of Ship Pilot Jobs

  • Pilot
  • Boat Pilot
  • Speedboat Driver
  • River Pilot
  • Marine Pilot

Ship Pilot Job Outlook

In the United States, there were 38,800 jobs for Captains, Mates, and Pilots of Water Vessels in 2016.

New jobs are being produced at a rate of 8.8% which is lower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 3,400 new jobs for Ship Pilots by 2026. The BLS estimates 4,400 yearly job openings in this field per year.

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

The states with the most job growth for Captains, Mates, and Pilots of Water Vessels are Louisiana, Texas, and Florida.

Watch out if you plan on working in Kentucky, Indiana, or Oregon. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Average Ship Pilot Salary

The average yearly salary of a Ship Pilot ranges between $35,410 and $144,690. The median salary for this occupation is $69,180.

Salary Ranges for Ship Pilots

How much do Captains, Mates, and Pilots of Water Vessels make in different U.S. states?

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary





New York




















New Jersey














South Carolina








North Carolina






New Hampshire






How do I Become a Ship Pilot?

Education needed to be a Ship Pilot:

Ship Pilot Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become Ship Pilot?

Ship Pilot Work Experience

Where Ship Pilots Are Employed

Ship Pilot Sectors

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Those interested in being a Ship Pilot may also be interested in:

  • Municipal Firefighters


Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

Find Schools Near You

Our free school finder has matched thousands of students with colleges.