Able Seaman

Help keep a tight and tidy ship at sea.
picture of Able Seaman

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$22,000 – $57,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Able Seamen do?

It takes a village to run a ship, especially a huge cargo ship, a cruise ship, or a yacht. There are many positions available on board these floating homes and cities, ranging from Deckhand to Ship Captain. The Able Seaman falls above the Ordinary Seaman, but below the Leading Seaman.

Your mid-Deckhand position as an Able Seaman gives you some supervisory responsibilities. Since you’ve already put in your time swabbing the deck and touching up paint as an entry-level Seaman, you know how the job is done and you make sure your successors do it right.

Of course, just because you got a promotion to Able Seaman doesn’t mean your hands stay clean. It’s a good thing you enjoy physical work because your responsibilities include washing, scrubbing, and cleaning different areas of the ship. You also make sure equipment is kept in working order.

For example, you examine ropes and nets to ensure strength and reliability. Other crewmembers and passengers rely on you to make repairs as needed, too.

Outside of your managerial and maintenance responsibilities, you offer your sea skills to the Captain and First Mate. That might include using a large pole to measure water depth, scouting for upcoming obstacles, or even manning the wheel. At the end of the day, you’re a team player, working to achieve the common goal of safely delivering cargo and/or passengers from one place to another.

Should I be an Able Seaman?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Able Bodied Seaman, Able Bodied Tankerman, Able Bodied Watchman, Able Bodied Wheelsman, AB Seaman, AB Tankerman See More

    How to become an Able Seaman

    Most Able Seamen have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9baaaa&chl=no+college+%2869%25%29|certificate+%2831%25%29||||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,69,69
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