Ship Master

Command ships to transport passengers, freights, and other cargoes.
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Quick Stats

Salary Range
$31,000 – $117,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Ship Masters do?

Commands ship to transport passengers, freight, and other cargo across oceans, bays, lakes, and in coastal waters: Sets course of ship, using navigational aids, such as charts, area plotting sheets, compass, and sextant, and orders crew worker at helm to steer ship. Determines geographical position of ship, using loran or azimuths of celestial bodies. Inspects ship to ensure that crew and passengers observe regulations pertaining to safety and efficient operation of ship. Coordinates activities of crewmembers responsible for signaling devices, such as ship’s whistle, flashing lights, flags, and radio, to signal ships in vicinity. Calculates landfall, using electronic sounding devices and following contour lines on chart. Avoids reefs, outlying shoals, and other hazards to shipping, utilizing aids to navigation, such as lights, lighthouses, and buoys. Relinquishes command of ship to PILOT, SHIP to guide ship through hazardous waters. Signals TUGBOAT CAPTAIN to berth ship. Maintains ship’s log. Must be licensed by U.S. Coast Guard for steam, motor, or sail ship according to waters navigated and tonnage of ship. May be designated according to waters licensed to navigate as Master, Bays, Sounds, And Lakes; Master, Coastal Waters; Master, Great Lakes; Master, Ocean.

Should I be a Ship Master?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.

  • Also known as: Car Ferry Master, Docking Master, Maritime Officer, Master, Bays, Sounds, and Lakes, Master, Coastal Waters See More

    How to become a Ship Master

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