Ship Captain Average Salary

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Job Description for Ship Captain

A ship captain is the person in charge of everything that happens on a commercial boat, whether that vessel is involved in commercial freight work, passenger transport, or pleasure cruises for sightseeing or fishing. On a boat of any commercial size, the captain typically supervises a crew and helps to ensure the seaworthy nature of the ship until it reaches its destination. Because of the dangers and damages that can result if a ship is mishandled, typically a ship captain is given extraordinary responsibilities to guide everything that happens on his or her vessel.

On large ships, the role of the ship captain is extremely managerial. Such ships normally have crews that work in teams to handle the daily operations on board the boat. These teams can include helm and bridge personnel, cleaning, repair, and maintenance crews. The ship captain constantly inspects and provides guidance for these personnel to maintain efficient and safe operation of the vessel.

To work as a ship captain, the most important requirement is experience. Many ship captains in commercial work acquire this by starting at a very young age, sometimes while still in school. Other candidates for these positions gain practical experience by serving in the navy. Ship captains should expect to spend extensive time traveling. Captains of some ships will sleep on board during most journeys. Ship captains are normally active during daytime hours, but while on board a boat, they are always considered to be working and need to be available if needed.

Ship Captain Tasks
  • Command and navigate naval vessels through the transportation of personnel and goods.
  • Keep crew and ship prepared for crisis situations.
  • Track and evaluate records for cargo, crew, and ship maintenance.
  • Coordinate crews for all ship duties in harbor and at sea.

Key Stats

5-9 years
10-19 years
20 years or more

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