Harbor Pilot

Help ships dock safely at shore.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$31,000 – $117,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Harbor Pilots do?

A Harbor Pilot is an Air Traffic Controller for the sea, minus the part where they doze off in the middle of a shift. As a merchant ship pulls into port, the Harbor Pilot climbs aboard and helps guide it safely to shore. During this process, the ship’s Captain never relinquishes control. Instead, he relies on the Harbor Pilot’s knowledge of the port’s nooks and crannies for safe navigation.

Ship Captains earn six-figure salaries; as a Harbor Pilot, you make more. Though handsomely paid and well respected, the job isn’t without its challenges.

Some days, you work 12- or 13-hour shifts, directing incoming and outgoing ship traffic. Should a container ship rear-end an oil tanker, you can expect more than a few inquiries by members of the local and national media. A decent level of physical fitness is required, as you’ll be climbing a ladder each time you board a new ship.

Unlike related jobs that require substantial travel, Harbor Pilots get to live near the harbors they’ve come to know so intimately. Another plus is meeting crewmembers from different parts of the world. When they arrive, it’s your team’s responsibility to ensure they’re authorized to set foot inside the country.

And the biggest perk of all? The ocean is your office!

Should I be a Harbor Pilot?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.

  • Also known as: Harbor Boat Pilot, Harbormaster, Line Haul Towboat Pilot, Ship Harbor Pilot

    How to become a Harbor Pilot

    We recommend at least a Certificate. Check out these schools offering Harbor Pilot-related education!
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