Career Discovery Tool
Science Buddies

Ship & Boat Captain

Overview and Key Facts

boat captain
Education
Education
Post high school credential
Median Pay
Median Pay
$81,640
Job Growth
Job Growth
1.20%
(Below US Average)
Jobs in 2031
Jobs in 2031
37,200

What Do They Do?

A ship and boat captain could...

Overview Listen to this section

Ship and boat captains have the important job of commanding ships and boats through domestic and deep-sea waterways, so that passengers and cargo arrive safely. To do this, they need knowledge of the mechanical and electrical workings of ships, navigation, signaling, national and international legal rules in waterways, as well as strong leadership skills, since they supervise the work of all other crew members.
Watch this video to find out what it takes to become the captain of a big ship and join the elite club of only 600 active ship captains in the United States!

Do You Have the Skills and Characteristics of a Ship & Boat Captain?


  1. Operation and Control: ?
  2. Operation Monitoring: ?
  3. Active Listening: ?
  4. Critical Thinking: ?
  5. Speaking: ?

Core Tasks

Think about if you'd like the typical tasks a Ship & Boat Captain might do:
  • Direct courses and speeds of ships, based on specialized knowledge of local winds, weather, water depths, tides, currents, and hazards.
  • Prevent ships under navigational control from engaging in unsafe operations.
  • Serve as a vessel's docking master upon arrival at a port or at a berth.
  • Consult maps, charts, weather reports, or navigation equipment to determine and direct ship movements.
  • Steer and operate vessels, using radios, depth finders, radars, lights, buoys, or lighthouses.
  • Operate ship-to-shore radios to exchange information needed for ship operations.
  • Dock or undock vessels, sometimes maneuvering through narrow spaces, such as locks.
  • Stand watches on vessels during specified periods while vessels are under way.
  • Inspect vessels to ensure efficient and safe operation of vessels and equipment and conformance to regulations.
  • Read gauges to verify sufficient levels of hydraulic fluid, air pressure, or oxygen.
  • Report to appropriate authorities any violations of federal or state pilotage laws.
  • Provide assistance in maritime rescue operations.
  • Signal passing vessels, using whistles, flashing lights, flags, or radios.
  • Measure depths of water, using depth-measuring equipment.
  • Maintain boats or equipment on board, such as engines, winches, navigational systems, fire extinguishers, or life preservers.
  • Signal crew members or deckhands to rig tow lines, open or close gates or ramps, or pull guard chains across entries.
  • Advise ships' masters on harbor rules and customs procedures.
  • Maintain records of daily activities, personnel reports, ship positions and movements, ports of call, weather and sea conditions, pollution control efforts, or cargo or passenger status.
  • Observe loading or unloading of cargo or equipment to ensure that handling and storage are performed according to specifications.
  • Calculate sightings of land, using electronic sounding devices and following contour lines on charts.
  • Learn to operate new technology systems and procedures through instruction, simulators, or models.
  • Direct or coordinate crew members or workers performing activities such as loading or unloading cargo, steering vessels, operating engines, or operating, maintaining, or repairing ship equipment.
  • Arrange for ships to be fueled, restocked with supplies, or repaired.
  • Supervise crews in cleaning or maintaining decks, superstructures, or bridges.
  • Purchase supplies or equipment.
  • Conduct safety drills such as man overboard or fire drills.

Salary & Job Openings

Steps to Get There: Becoming a Ship & Boat Captain

Try it Out with an Activity or Project

On the Job

More Information

Please create a free account to view this career and access our full library of over 160 STEM careers.

Students    Teachers / Parents

With a free account you will have access to our full library of over 160 STEM careers. Each career profile includes detailed information to help you learn about a career and the requirements to get there. You can explore:

  • salary information by state
  • recommended high school coursework
  • fun projects and activities to test out a career
  • videos and interviews with professionals in the field
  • details on what a day on the job is like
Top
Free science fair projects.