Work Tasks

SAILORS, also called seamen or deckhands, operate and maintain deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats, towboats, ferries, dredges, excursion vessels, and other watercraft, on oceans, harbors, rivers, canals, and other waterways worldwide. They work under the direction of the ship's officers to maintain deck equipment, stand watch, handle docking lines, steer ships, make repairs, load and unload cargo, and perform many other duties. Deckhands on tugboats or towboats tie barges together into tow units, inspect them, and disconnect them when the destination is reached.

Salary, Size & Growth

Entry Requirements

SAILORS working on U.S. flagged deep-sea and Great Lake vessels must hold a Coast Guard-issued document. In addition, they must hold certification when working aboard liquid-carrying vessels. Able seamen must also hold government-issued certification. For employment in the merchant marine as an unlicensed seaman, a merchant mariner's document issued by the Coast Guard is needed. A medical certificate of good health and a certificate attesting to good vision is required for higher level deckhands and unlicensed engineers. While no experience or formal schooling is required, training at a union-run school is the best source.