Career Definition: Ship Captain
A Ship Captain is in charge of the operations of a sea vessel. They maintain logs detailing a ship's course and speed, weather conditions and other factors that influence movement of the ship. A Ship Captain also manages a ship's crew, supervises loading and unloading of either passengers or cargo and may be involved in the hiring of crew members. In many cases, work as a Ship Captain takes one away from home for extended periods of time.
A Ship Captain can serve on a cruise ship, fishing boat, tugboat, freighter, barge or ferry.
How to Become a Ship Captain
Required Education for a Ship Captain
A Ship Captain must possess at least a high school diploma, though associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in Marine Science or Marine Engineering are offered by many maritime colleges or academies. These colleges use classroom instruction and professional simulations. Courses might include management, logistics, navigation and maritime safety and laws. Experience is another route one might take to become a Ship Captain, such as spending years as a deckhand or officer. Depending on the type of vessel captained and waterways navigated, a captain's license from the United States Coast Guard, www.uscg.mil, may be required and is issued after successful completion of an examination.
Skills Required for a Ship Captain
A Ship Captain must have excellent communication, customer service, administrative and problem-solving skills. They must have the ability to adapt to changing conditions and respond to emergency situations. A Ship Captain also needs to have knowledge of maritime laws and regulations.
Career and Economic Outlook for a Ship Captain
With the expected expansion of international trade leading to increased water transportation of goods, as well as ferry systems to transport commuters in heavily-populated areas, job growth for Ship Captains should be about 17% through 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov. Most job opportunities can be found in coastal areas or those near freshwater ports and docks. Pay for a Ship Captain is generally between $30,000 and $100,000 depending on experience and the size of the vessel commanded. Those finding work as a Ship Captain are predominately male, with very few females serving in this role.