Ship and Boat Captains helps professionals in ship or boat captain careers find better opportunities across all specialties and locations.

Also known as:  Barge Captain, Barge Master, Boat Pilot, Car Ferry Captain, Car Ferry Master, Coastal Tug Mate, Deck Officer, Docking Pilot, Ferry Boat Captain, Ferry Captain


Water transportation had been an important part of civilization since ancient times. Today's vessels can be ultra-modern and high-tech, but whether on an excursion boat on a river or an oil tanker in the open sea, a captain is absolutely in charge. The captain, or master, is in command of other offi ...
cers and crew, responsible for the course and speed, for safety procedures, engine, equipment, and ship's logs that record movement of cargo and passengers.

It's hard work, with long hours in all kinds of weather. In can be dangerous and isolating. Captains of deep-sea vessels can be on voyages that last for months. A love of being on the open water is a starting point. Then comes years of preparation.

Captains of all kinds of water vessels are licensed by the U.S. coast guard. The type of license depends on the craft. The formal training takes place at the U.S. merchant marine academy or at one of 6 state academies and includes a written exam, a physical exam, and drug screening. A graduate is a third officer, who can work his or her way up to captain. With additional training and experience, third officers may qualify for a higher rank.

Due to stiff competition, some officers may have to take a job below the grade for which they are licensed until a appropriate opening becomes available. Keen competition is expected for years to come, but there are bright spots on the horizon, including a rise in the number of cruise ships and excursion boats licensed in the U.S.
Command vessels in oceans, bays, lakes, rivers, or coastal waters.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
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Compute positions, set courses, and determine speeds, using charts, area plotting sheets, compasses, sextants, and knowledge of local conditions.
Maintain boats or equipment on board, such as engines, winches, navigational systems, fire extinguishers, or life preservers.
Read gauges to verify sufficient levels of hydraulic fluid, air pressure, or oxygen.
Direct or coordinate crew members or workers performing activities such as loading or unloading cargo, steering vessels, operating engines, or operating, maintaining, or repairing ship equipment.
Measure depths of water, using depth-measuring equipment.
Calculate sightings of land, using electronic sounding devices and following contour lines on charts.
Signal crew members or deckhands to rig tow lines, open or close gates or ramps, or pull guard chains across entries.
Monitor the loading or discharging of cargo or passengers.
Arrange for ships to be fueled, restocked with supplies, or repaired.
Purchase supplies or equipment.
Maintain records of daily activities, personnel reports, ship positions and movements, ports of call, weather and sea conditions, pollution control efforts, or cargo or passenger status.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Transportation Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Telecommunications Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Geography Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
Personnel and Human Resources Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
Oral Expression The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Far Vision The ability to see details at a distance.
Problem Sensitivity The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Speech Clarity The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Depth Perception The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
Selective Attention The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
Control Precision The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Management of Personnel Resources Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
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