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Water Transportation Occupations

Water Transportation Occupations
Quick Facts : Water Transportation Occupations*
2010 Median Pay$46,610
Entry Level Education
Work Experience in Related OccupationNone
Number of Jobs, 201282,600
Job Outlook20% (Faster than average)
Employment Change16,700

Workers in water transportation occupations operate and maintain ships that take cargo and people over water. These workers, sometimes called merchant mariners, work on a variety of ships. These ships travel to and from foreign ports across the ocean, to domestic ports along the coasts, across the Great Lakes, and along the country?s many inland waterways.

What Water Transportation Occupations Do

  • Operate and maintain private ships
  • Follow their ship's strict chain of command
  • Ensure the safety of all people and cargo on board
  • Keep logs and other records that track the ship's movements and activities
  • Inspect the cargo hold during loading, to ensure that the cargo is stowed according to specifications

Work Environment

Work schedules and conditions vary by the type of ship. Most workers work long hours while they are on the ship.
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Job Outlook

Employment of captains, mates, and pilots is projected to grow 20 percent. Employment of ship engineers is projected to grow 18 percent. Employment of sailors and marine oilers is projected to grow 21 percent.
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The average salary of water transportation occupations was $46,610 in May 2010.
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Water Transportation Occupations*
Average Annual Salary, May 2010

Water Transportation Occupations


Transportation Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.

Water Transportation Occupations*
Percent Change in Employment

Water Transportation Occupations


Transportation Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.


Becoming a Water Transportation Occupations

Most deck officers, engineers, and pilots have a bachelor's degree from a merchant marine academy. The programs offer a bachelor's degree and a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC) with an endorsement as a third mate or third assistant engineer. Non-officers, such as sailors or marine oilers, usually do not have to have a degree.
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