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25 of the Highest Paying Maritime Jobs in 2024

The best Maritime jobs can pay up to $230,000 per year.

The maritime industry includes a wide array of different jobs, ranging from working on the deck of a ship to working on ship engines. While most maritime careers involve working on ships, there are also many land-based jobs. Most of the industry involves the transportation of goods and people over large waterways, such as with cruise liners, cargo ships, and ferries. The most in-demand jobs include naval architecture, marine and ocean engineering, ship and boat building, electricians and pipefitters, welders, and mechanical engineers.

To get a job in the maritime industry, you will need postsecondary training and specialized skills. Many of the sea-based jobs are dangerous and require additional training requirements set by the US Coast Guard, whereas land-based jobs often require technical degrees. Qualifications include your Transportation Workers Identification Credential and Merchant Mariners Document to board a US ship, and if you work on the ocean, you need basic safety training courses to learn survival techniques and first aid. A maritime training program or apprenticeship can lead to an entry-level job, and depending on the job, you may only need to attend vocational school and receive on-the-job training. Physical exams and drug tests may also be required.

High Paying Maritime Jobs

  • Boat Pilot

    A boat pilot operates a shipping vessel that may serve in several capacities, from transporting goods to ferrying passengers through areas where a captain may not have local knowledge for navigation. In this career, you usually work for a port or dock instead of a particular ship. Your duties may take you aboard a variety of boats throughout a day, making familiarity with basic operation imperative. Excellent communication between both the shore dispatchers and the crew is vital. To succeed as a boat pilot, you need exceptional knowledge of the hazards, currents, and tides of the harbor at which you work.

  • Ship Pilot

    A ship pilot is a captain responsible for the overall operation and navigation on board a large boat or ship. The types of ships that can be piloted vary widely depending on the use of the vessel. Some common examples include cargo ships, oil tankers, and passenger ships. These ships can be piloted to any port whether it is on the ocean or water ways. Your job duties include overseeing the loading of cargo and passengers, establishing the proper navigation elements such as speed and direction, and ensuring the ship is in safe working order.

  • First Officer

    Within the aviation industry, the first officer working in a commercial airline is the second pilot or co-pilot to the captain. Your responsibilities in this career include taking over full command of the aircraft, crew, and passengers if the captain is no longer able to do so. As second-in-command, you generally have equal control of the airplane while flying, with your position being designated as the “pilot not flying” or “pilot monitoring” and you are sitting on the right side of the airplane. Other duties include completing preflight inspections, and ensuring the aircraft is safe to fly in accordance with Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) and company policies. You provide the captain with a flight plan including weather information and other required reports and let passengers know about turbulent weather or other operational details affecting their flight. The safety of your passengers is your number one concern.

  • Port Engineer

    A port engineer works on the technical aspects of operations and infrastructure at a port. You oversee ship maintenance and repair, and your duties include ensuring that engineering work meets safety standards and marine regulations. During projects, you remain present on the dock to offer guidance to technical personnel. The responsibilities of many port engineers include managing a maintenance budget and finding ways to lower costs and increase the efficiency of port operations. You may communicate with ships on the ocean to coordinate maintenance. You may also work on harbor improvements, dredging, and other infrastructure projects.

  • Ferry Pilot

    A ferry pilot transports aircraft from one location to another. Your duties usually focus on the transport of new or used aircraft from a manufacturer or seller to a buyer. Ferry flying can involve different types of airplanes, but when you pilot a ferry flight, the plane does not have passengers or cargo. You can also transport an aircraft to a specific location for maintenance or perform a return flight for an aircraft that provided one-way service to private clients. Some ferry pilots work with commercial airlines. Your responsibilities in this scenario involve moving aircraft to different airports where the airline needs them.

  • Ship Engineer

    As a ship engineer, your duties include the operation and maintenance of a ship’s engine, boiler, pump, generator, and other machinery. You are also responsible for supervising and coordinating crew tasks in the maintenance and operation of the ship. Your responsibilities may include starting a ship’s engine to propel the ship, controlling the speed as ordered by the captain or bridge computers, and fixing any components that need immediate repair. As a ship engineer, you may also be in charge of reporting any issues to the appropriate staff onboard and maintaining records regarding engine activities and maintenance.

  • Tugboat Captain

    A tugboat captain, also known as a tug captain or tugboat operator, is the pilot of a small vessel that helps larger crafts steer in tight spaces where their engines cannot safely reach full power. Tugboats can be used to guide a boat out of a port or harbor, maneuver a barge in a river, or help a ship in the open sea if their engines are down. As a tugboat captain, you hire and train the crew of your boat, oversee the boat’s operations, communicate with other vessels, and ensure that all functions are proceeding as they should. Qualifications to become a tugboat captain or tugboat operator include maritime training and licensure.

  • Port Captain

    A port captain oversees the ships in a port to ensure they are ready for their voyages. As a port captain, your responsibilities include making sure you comply with all maritime safety protocols, crews are sufficient in size and qualifications, the proper equipment is on board, and the captain is doing their job properly. Your job is to see the smooth operation of the port and ensure that the ships in it are complying with safety and functionality requirements. Port captain is a very physical job, so in addition to having nautical expertise, you should be comfortable lifting heavy loads and working in inclement weather.

  • Naval Architect

    As a naval architect, you design, maintain, and repair naval equipment including boats and other water vehicles. With technical and scientific knowledge of physics and materials, engineering, and architecture concepts, you manage the equipment that boat builders or engineering companies need. You design ships and utilize computer software to manage projects and create blueprints. Along with a team of experts from other specialties, you build and test scale models and prototypes of ships. The focus of naval architecture is on form, function, and stability of ship components. Examining and diagnosing problems with ships is another component of naval architecture, and maintenance and testing duties often happen on the water.

  • Cruise Director

    A cruise director is an officer on a cruise ship who is in charge of organizing fun events and activities for the passengers. As a cruise director, you are often considered to be the face of the company. Your job duties are hospitality-focused and include all social events and entertainment on-board. You are responsible for a large number of different activities for many passengers, especially on larger cruise lines. This requires you to be capable of organizing and directing entertainment staff members to successfully hold the many events as scheduled.

  • Marine Engineer

    A marine engineer works to ensure the smooth operation of a ship or other water vessel like a ferry, submarine, or cargo ship, by inspecting and performing maintenance on propulsion systems, engines, and other systems powering the vessel. You may also design and build these systems. You can choose to specialize in one area such as boat engines. In this job, your duties may include performing maintenance work on boats or designing propulsion systems with CAD software on a computer. Communication skills are crucial, as you are constantly discussing needs and expectations with your clients. Additional responsibilities include keeping a timeline and budget, ensuring that your projects stay on track.

  • Waterfront Director

    Waterfront directors supervise water-based activities, including swimming, boating, canoeing, windsurfing, and waterskiing. As a waterfront director, you may plan events, train and schedule staff, monitor safety, care for equipment, and process registrations, such as licenses and boat permits. This position may be required to work extended hours over the summer. You maintain inventory and recommend when to repair or purchase new equipment. You are also in charge of set-up and tear down for the waterfront and may need to participate in other camp activities not related to your department.

  • Marine Service Manager

    The job duties of a marine service manager revolve around providing boat repair service. As a marine service manager, your responsibilities include inspecting a vessel while it is in port or during seagoing operations. You make suggestions to the ship owners or operators about necessary repairs and safety upgrades and work with tradespeople to facilitate these improvements. You may also offer advice about efficiency upgrades and other possible changes that the owners of the craft can make. In this career, you may need to be familiar with standards and regulations for the commercial shipping or commercial fishing industry.

  • First Mate

    As a first mate or chief officer aboard a ship, you work under the supervision of the captain to perform navigational responsibilities, operate various ship systems, and direct the deck crew. You are second in command and help ensure the safety of the ship and crew. Your duties include steering, de-watering, working with electronic navigation aids, maintaining the deck log, planning the loading and unloading of cargo, and providing boat maintenance. You can find a first mate on every ship, from a sail boat to a cargo ship, sailing on the coast or out in the deep sea. Your maritime qualifications and necessary skills differ by the type of boat, but your tasks are similar.

  • Able Seaman

    An able seaman provides a variety of services on a merchant ship. They may be asked to act as helmsman and navigate the boat, use equipment during emergencies, perform maintenance and sanitation, enforce security measures, operate deck machinery, keep watch for obstructions, or handle cargo. Most companies use the definition of this role provided by the United States Coast Guard, which considers able seamen to be any position below the officers that is above ordinary seamen, while also holding a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). Able seamen typically work on the deck of a ship, assist other members of the crew as needed, and stop work if they notice unsafe conditions or practices.

  • Marine Surveyor

    The job of a marine surveyor is to inspect maritime transport vessels. Surveyors check every inch of a ship to ensure that the vessel is seaworthy and up to code. They also inspect the loading and unloading of cargo on a ship. Additional job duties of a marine surveyor include writing up inspection reports and communicating findings to vessel owners and supervisors. Employees in this industry are typically required to travel frequently between ports.

  • Ship Superintendent

    The role of the ship superintendent is to monitor and manage a repair project at a shipyard or in dry dock. You have significant duties and responsibilities related to determining what types of repairs are necessary and the budget for the project, as well as ensuring steady progress. You must remain in contact with the repair company to ensure the repairs are on schedule while remaining thorough. You inspect the condition of the ship and report whether the ship is seaworthy. Ultimately, you are responsible for the condition of the ship.

  • Ordinary Seaman

    An ordinary seaman (OS) performs duties as part of the deck crew of a merchant ship. The OS position is the lowest ranking position on the deck crew, and your responsibilities center on ship maintenance and repair, general labor, and standing lookout. You help paint the hull, clean and polish brightwork, and ensure that garbage is disposed of. When loading and unloading cargo, you handle ropes and secure items. Many of your duties are part of training to move up to being an able seaman, which comes with increased responsibilities and supervisory tasks.

  • Marine Diesel Mechanic

    Marine diesel mechanics maintain, diagnose, and repair diesel engines that power all types of water-based vessels. Working at a marina or a large shipping firm, you maintain diesel engines on vessels, performing regular maintenance and troubleshooting problems as needed. Other duties and responsibilities include travel to boats in distress to fix engines. As a cruise or cargo ship diesel mechanic, you monitor diesel engines during voyages to ensure smooth operation. You utilize problem-solving skills to minimize disruptions to boat movement and ensure passenger safety. Continuous education is important, as you continually learn about new engine types and maintenance techniques.

  • Mate

    A mate on a ship operates and maintains a merchant boat. A typical deep-sea ship includes a crew of at least three mates, including the first mate or chief mate, second mate, and third mate. Your duties as a mate can vary depending on the size of the vessel. You supervise the ship during your shift, delegate duties to lower ranking crew members, and manage other sailors on board. You may also charter a course for the boat, steer the vessel, or navigate on open water. Additional responsibilities include conducting bridge watch and maintaining log entries. Mates are responsible for the overall maintenance of the ship as well.

  • Ship Captain

    A ship captain is responsible for the safe operation and navigation of a sea vessel such as a ferry, barge, tugboat, or cruise ship. In this career, you must ensure its seaworthiness and follow all safety protocols for your passengers before setting sail. You also manage a large crew, ensuring that each crew member understands your policies. Other duties include setting the ship course, giving commands to your crew, and supervising the loading and unloading of cargo or passengers. You record all relevant information regarding each voyage, including the course and speed of the boat and weather conditions. Other responsibilities include maintaining equipment, like engines, navigational systems, and life preservers, and signaling passing vessels.

  • Marine Technician

    As a marine technician, your job is to repair and adjust electrical and plumbing systems on boats, yachts, and other aquatic vessels. To accomplish this, you work with mechanical systems, fix damaged parts, perform regular maintenance to keep things in good working order, and run diagnostics to troubleshoot problems. You may also be asked to install new systems, upgrade existing systems, conduct operational tests, and suggest modifications. You are expected to document all inspection and repair jobs, test the results of work performed, and order parts as needed. Many marine technicians work directly with customers, so customer service skills are essential.

  • Marine Mechanic

    As a marine mechanic or boat mechanic, you provide maintenance and repair services for motorboats and watercraft. Your job duties include working on all types of small engines—gas or diesel, as well as the mechanical and electrical systems onboard boats. Your responsibilities are to understand mechanics and to troubleshoot, identify, and solve problems. To make your career as a marine mechanic, you need manual dexterity as all of your jobs rely on you working with your hands to manipulate tools and mechanical parts. Interpersonal skills are helpful for when you have to explain mechanical concepts to customers.

  • Radio Technician

    A radio technician specializes in the design, installation, and maintenance of broadcasting systems for a radio station. As a radio technician, your duties include selecting and maintaining the equipment most suitable for your assigned radio program, and making electrical and equipment repairs as needed. Your job is to ensure that equipment is in working order to prevent any technical issues, and quickly respond to any unforeseen problems that arise during the broadcast.

  • Third Mate

    On a merchant marine vessel, the third mate is part of the deck department and is typically the fourth in charge of the ship. Traditionally, as the third mate, you are the safety officer and your duties are to oversee the watch both at sea and when docked, ensure that the crew observes all safety protocols, and oversee safety inspections of things like fire extinguishers and lifeboats. Your responsibilities are to lead any emergency responses necessary on the ship, such as fighting fires.