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Ship and Boat Captains

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What is a Ship Captain?

Ship Captain Definition Command vessels in oceans, bays, lakes, rivers, or coastal waters.

What do Ship Captains do On a Daily Basis?

  • Perform various marine duties, such as checking for oil spills or other pollutants around ports or harbors or patrolling beaches.
  • Collect fares from customers or signal ferryboat helpers to collect fares.
  • Steer and operate vessels, using radios, depth finders, radars, lights, buoys, or lighthouses.
  • Arrange for ships to be fueled, restocked with supplies, or repaired.
  • Interview and hire crew members.
  • Adjust navigation according to weather conditions.

Ship Captain Needed Skills

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.

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.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

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

Types of Ship Captain Jobs

  • Ferry Boat Captain
  • Steamboat Captain
  • Tug Captain
  • Canal Boat Captain
  • Navigator

Ship Captain Job Outlook

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

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 Captains 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 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.

How Much Does a Ship Captain Make?

The salary for Captains, Mates, and Pilots of Water Vessels ranges between about $35,410 and $144,690 a year. The median salary is $69,180.

Salary Ranges for Ship Captains

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

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary





New York




















New Jersey














South Carolina








North Carolina






New Hampshire






What Tools & Technology 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 Office
  • Autodesk Revit

How do I Become a Ship Captain?

What education is needed to be a Ship Captain?

Ship Captain Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become Ship Captain?

Ship Captain Work Experience

Who Employs Ship Captains?

Ship Captain Sectors

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

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

  • Commercial Divers


Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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