SHIP CAPTAINS operate ships in domestic waterways and on the ocean. They are in overall command of a ship, and supervise the work of officers and crew. They determine the course and speed of the ship, and maneuver to avoid hazards, such as reefs, and outlying shoals. They continuously monitor the ship's position with charts and navigational aids. They oversee crew members who steer the ship, operate engines, communicate with other ships, do maintenance, handle lines, or operate equipment. They inspect the ship to see that everything is in good working order and make sure that proper procedures and safety practices are being followed.
Salary, Size & Growth
- $76,000 average per year ($36.50 per hour)
- A medium occupation (38,800 workers in 2010)
- Expected to grow moderately (1.8% per year)
Entry, training, and educational requirements for most water transportation jobs are established and regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard. All officers and operators of commercially operated vessels must be licensed by the Coast Guard. To qualify for deck or engineering officer's license applicants must accumulate sea time (5-8 years) and meet regulatory requirements, or must graduate from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy or one of the six state maritime academies, and pass a written exam. The academies offer a bachelor's degree and a license as a third mate. With experience and more training, third officers may qualify for a higher rank and eventually become a SHIP CAPTAIN.