How to Become a Ship Captain

Ship Captains are nautical experts who use their experience to manage and direct seafaring vessels for a variety of purposes and industries.

Ship Captains manage the course of a ship in order to transport passengers, freight or cargo.

These professionals are trained to manage an assortment of ship vessels although the exact type of vessel will be determined by the type of job they seek.

Some types of vessels these professionals are trained to maneuver include the following:

  • Commercial Vessels such as cargo ships, merchant ships and passenger ships such as ferries and cruise ships
  • Fishing Vessels are typically smaller in size and used to transport fishing cargo according to international laws and regulations

There are similar responsibilities Ship Captains have no matter which type of vessel they are responsible for.

One important skill an expert Ship Captain must have includes the ability to navigate from one point to another.

A ship will communicate and delegate specific assignments to other ship members such as mates in order to secure safety and meet deadlines.

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Although having a love for traveling by sea is a great characteristic to have in order to become a Ship Captain there are several qualifications employers look for in a candidate.

Read below for further information on educational requirements, training expectations, a typical job description and salary information.

Education Requirements to Become a Ship Captain

The U.S.

Coast Guard has established and currently oversees the educational and training requirements.

In order for a candidate to become a Ship Captain, they must attend and complete a program that meets the U.S.

Coast Guards requirements.

In addition, candidates who want to become a Ship Captain must also meet licensing requirements.

Students who have a high school diploma can seek this type of position as long as they have years of experience and the necessary licensure.

For those who decide to pursue an advanced education, they can join an institution that offers a degree in Marine Science or Marine Engineering.

These types of programs are typically offered at maritime academies or colleges.

Licensure for this profession depends on the type and size of ship candidates will manage.

Licensure will be granted to those who have completed a program at an accredited institution and must pass a written exam.

Ship Captain Job Description

A Ship Captain’s responsibilities will vary depending on the industry and the type of ship they are hired to navigate.

For the most part, a Ship Captain is mainly responsible for planning and directing the route the ship will take based on an exact location and according to a specified schedule.

For example, a Ship Captain leaving from Alaska, a major fishing port will plan a route in order to get to its required destination.

During the voyage, the captain will direct the crew assuring the correct route is taken to avoid getting lost.

A Ship Captain will also need to manage a crew in case of emergencies, such as adverse weather.

A Ship Captain’s responsibilities go beyond directing a ship.

They are also responsible for the crew’s safety.

If they are directing a cruise ship, they will also be responsible for the passenger’s safety.

Ship Captains who manage a fishing vessel will have different responsibilities.

In addition to planning and managing the ship’s route, they will determine the type of fish they will catch, the best location to catch the largest amount, what method the team will use to catch the fish and the duration of the trip.

Ship Captain Salary and Career Path

The career expectations for this industry look excellent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In fact, careers in the seafaring profession are expected to grow by 15% through the year 2018.

Factors helping this growth include an increased interest in tourism, international trade and offshore oil and gas manufacturing.

The BLS also reports that the national median wage for professionals in this industry was approximately $61,960 in 2008.The salary range for this position starts at $29,000 to a high of $108,000.

This estimate is based on a variety of positions in this field.

Ship Captains are likely to earn more than the starting salary.

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