Ship and Boat Captains

General Information


Command vessels in oceans, bays, lakes, rivers, or coastal waters.

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Industry areas

  • Deep Sea, Coastal, and Great Lakes Water Transportation
  • Inland Water Transportation
  • Support Activities for Water Transportation

Job Outlook

Overall employment of water transportation workers is projected to decline 2 percent from 2018 to 2028. Fluctuations in the demand for bulk commodities, such as petroleum products, iron ore, and grains, is a key factor influencing waterborne employment. When demand for these commodities is high, the need for water transportation workers goes up; when demand slows, so does the need for workers. In addition, larger vessels that can carry more cargo require fewer water transportation workers. Nevertheless, these workers will continue to be needed as federal laws and subsidies ensure that there always will be a fleet of merchant ships with U.S. flags. Keeping a fleet of merchant ships is considered important for the nation’s defense.

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Average Salary



Military salary*


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State-by-state Salary

Gray states indicate no data available

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Most Common Education Levels

People in this career achieve this level of education.

  • Post-secondary certificate 52%
  • High school 21%
  • Some college 11%
  • Less than high school 10%
  • Bachelor's degree 3%
  • Master's degree 0%
  • Doctoral degree 0%
  • Associate's degree 0%
  • Post baccalaureate 0%
  • Post-doctoral training 0%
  • Post-master's certificate 0%
  • First professional degree 0%

Related College Majors

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  • Transportation
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Mechanical
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Geography
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