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What is a Ship Captain?

Example of Ship Captain Job Command vessels in oceans, bays, lakes, rivers, or coastal waters.

List of Ship Captain Job Duties

  • Maintain boats or equipment on board, such as engines, winches, navigational systems, fire extinguishers, or life preservers.
  • Monitor the loading or discharging of cargo or passengers.
  • Arrange for ships to be fueled, restocked with supplies, or repaired.
  • Perform various marine duties, such as checking for oil spills or other pollutants around ports or harbors or patrolling beaches.
  • Purchase supplies or equipment.
  • Tow and maneuver barges or signal tugboats to tow barges to destinations.

What Every Ship Captain Should Know

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

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.

Types of Ship Captain

  • Tug Boat Captain
  • Sling Operator
  • Ferry Captain
  • Dock Master
  • Ferryboat Operator

Ship Captain Job Outlook

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 38,800 jobs in the United States for Ship Captain. 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.

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

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.

Do Ship Captains Make A Lot Of Money?

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

Salary Ranges for Ship Captains

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

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Ship Captains 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?

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

  • 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

How do I Become a Ship Captain?

What education is needed to be a Ship Captain?

Ship Captain Degree Level

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

Ship Captain Work Experience

Where Ship Captains Are Employed

Ship Captain Sectors

Ship Captains work in the following industries:

Ship Captain Industries

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Are you already one of the many Ship Captain in the United States? If you’re thinking about changing careers, these fields are worth exploring:


Image Credit: via CC0 Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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