Boat Captain

Take charge of marine vessels on the high seas.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$31,000 – $117,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Boat Captains do?

Whether it’s a tugboat, yacht, cruise ship, fishing vessel, or oil tanker, everything that goes out onto the water has a Captain. The Boat Captain serves as the head of the vessel, overseeing its day-to-day operations.

Although every boat and voyage is different, the basic responsibilities of a Boat Captain never change. As Boat Captain, you’re in charge of the crew, which means you handle any personnel issues that come up. This might mean doling out punishments, firing unruly Sailors, or hiring and training new crew members.

You also create the route the ship follows, and make sure cargo is well cared for and delivered on time. You file any necessary paperwork, handle the budget, and make sure everyone on board stays safe. General maintenance is important to keep the boat floating and the crew safe, so you keep an eye on necessary repairs, and ensure you have all the supplies needed for an emergency at sea.

If a problem comes up (like bad weather, severe illness, or attack) you’re the one who handles things. You make sure your crew is well trained and everyone on board knows exactly what to do in case of an emergency. You alert the necessary authorities, the Coast Guard, or the nearest police force, and then work closely with them during their investigations.

Different boats call for different Captain skills. On a tourist cruise ship, for example, you want a bit of showmanship, while on a fishing boat, you want to hone your ability to use complex fishing gear in all types of weather.

Should I be a Boat Captain?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Boat Master, Boat Tender, Canal Boat Captain, Canal Boat Operator, Charter Boat Captain, Commercial Boat Captain See More

    How to become a Boat Captain

    Most Boat Captains have an Associate's degree or a Certificate. Chart?chd=s:k9lhha&chl=no+college+%2824%25%29|certificate+%2841%25%29|associate%27s+%2825%25%29|bachelor%27s+%285%25%29|master%27s+%285%25%29|&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,24,41
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