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Ship and Boat Captains
SOC Code: 53-5021.01

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

Sample of reported job titles: Boat Captain, Boat Operator, Captain, Charter Boat Captain, Ferry Boat Captain, Harbor Tug Captain, Relief Captain, Ship Captain, Tug Captain, Tugboat Captain


  • Steer and operate vessels, using radios, depth finders, radars, lights, buoys, or lighthouses.
  • Dock or undock vessels, sometimes maneuvering through narrow spaces, such as locks.
  • Adjust navigation according to weather conditions.
  • Inspect vessels to ensure efficient and safe operation of vessels and equipment and conformance to regulations.
  • Read gauges to verify sufficient levels of hydraulic fluid, air pressure, or oxygen.
  • Conduct safety drills with crew.
  • Compute positions, set courses, and determine speeds, using charts, area plotting sheets, compasses, sextants, and knowledge of local conditions.
  • Signal passing vessels, using whistles, flashing lights, flags, or radios.
  • Measure depths of water, using depth-measuring equipment.
  • Signal crew members or deckhands to rig tow lines, open or close gates or ramps, or pull guard chains across entries.
  • Maintain boats or equipment on board, such as engines, winches, navigational systems, fire extinguishers, or life preservers.
  • 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.
  • Monitor the loading or discharging of cargo or passengers.
  • Calculate sightings of land, using electronic sounding devices and following contour lines on charts.
  • 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.
  • Arrange for ships to be fueled, restocked with supplies, or repaired.
  • Purchase supplies or equipment.
  • Tow and maneuver barges or signal tugboats to tow barges to destinations.
  • Perform various marine duties, such as checking for oil spills or other pollutants around ports or harbors or patrolling beaches.
  • Collect fares from customers or signal ferryboat helpers to collect fares.
  • Resolve questions or problems with customs officials.
  • Sort logs, form log booms, or salvage lost logs.
  • Assign watches or living quarters to crew members.
  • Interview and hire crew members.

Technology Skills

  • Computer aided design CAD software - Autodesk Revit
  • Data base user interface and query software - KNMI TurboWin; Log book software
  • Facilities management software - Computerized maintenance management system CMMS
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Route navigation software - Jeppesen Marine Nobeltec Admiral; Maptech The CAPN
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel

Tools Used

  • Alarm systems - Fire alarm switches; Ship alarm systems
  • Bench vises - Workshop vises
  • Binoculars - Surveillance binoculars
  • Bolt cutters
  • Bridge cranes - Electric deck cranes; Grabbing cranes; Hydraulic deck cranes
  • Centrifugal pumps - Centrifugal cargo pumps
  • Cinch rescue loops - Rescue slings
  • Claw hammer - Claw hammers
  • Compasses - Dividers
  • Depth gauges - Echo sounders; Sounding rods
  • Desktop computers
  • Direction finding compasses - Magnetic compasses; Navigational compasses
  • Emergency medical services first aid kits - First aid kits
  • Fall protection lanyard - Safety lanyards
  • Fire extinguishers - Portable carbon dioxide fire extinguishers; Portable dry chemical fire extinguishers; Portable water fire extinguishers
  • Fire pump sets - Emergency fire pumps
  • Fire retardant apparel - Firefighting suits
  • Fire suppression system - Carbon dioxide CO2 fire extinguishing systems; Carbon dioxide CO2 flooding systems; Foam fire extinguishing systems
  • Flares - Pyrotechnic distress signals
  • Gas generators - Emergency generators
  • Gear pumps
  • Gyroscopic instruments - Gyrocompasses
  • Hoists - Cargo derricks; Magnet hoists
  • Insulated clothing for cold environments - Thermal protective aids TPA
  • Insulated or flotation suits - Immersion suits
  • Ladders - Pilot ladders
  • Life rings - Life buoys
  • Life vests or preservers - Life vests
  • Lifeboats or liferafts - Life rafts; Totally enclosed motor propelled survival craft TEMPSC
  • Lifts - Lifeboat davits
  • Loading equipment - Container lift trucks; Lifting spreaders
  • Locking pliers - Locking jaw pliers
  • Marine craft communications systems - Bridge to bridge radiotelephones; High frequency HF radiotelephone systems; Ultra high frequency UHF radiotelephone systems; Voice pipes (see all 5 examples)
  • Marine signaling systems - Semaphores; Ship's whistles; Signal flags; Signal light controls
  • Open end wrenches - Crescent wrenches
  • Personal computers
  • Pipe wrenches
  • Plotter printers - Parallel plotters
  • Punches or nail sets or drifts - Hand punches
  • Radio navigation instruments - Radio direction finders RDF
  • Respirators
  • Rope float lines - Line throwing appliances
  • Rotary pumps - Rotary displacement pumps
  • Safety glasses
  • Safety harnesses or belts - Safety belts
  • Safety helmets
  • Screw Pumps - Screw displacement pumps
  • Sextants
  • Sharpening stones or tools or kits - Sharpening steels
  • Slings - Lifting slings
  • Sonars - Fathometer sonar equipment
  • Spanner wrenches
  • Straight edges - Parallel rules
  • Telegraph sounders - Electric telegraphs; Mechanical telegraphs
  • Triangles - Drafting triangles
  • Vehicle navigation systems - Dynamic positioning DP systems; Electronic chart display and information systems ECDIS; Long range navigation LORAN systems; Voyage management systems VMS (see all 8 examples)
  • Vehicular global positioning system GPS - Differential global positioning systems DGPS; Global positioning systems GPS
  • Winches - Mooring winches


  • Transportation - Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
  • 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.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.


  • 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.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Management of Personnel Resources - Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.


  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Spatial Orientation - The ability to know your location in relation to the environment or to know where other objects are in relation to you.
  • Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Far Vision - The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • 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.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • 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.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Time Sharing - The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
  • Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Perceptual Speed - The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Glare Sensitivity - The ability to see objects in the presence of glare or bright lighting.
  • Multilimb Coordination - The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
  • Reaction Time - The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
  • Response Orientation - The ability to choose quickly between two or more movements in response to two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures). It includes the speed with which the correct response is started with the hand, foot, or other body part.
  • Auditory Attention - The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Rate Control - The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
  • Speed of Closure - The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
  • Visual Color Discrimination - The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Hearing Sensitivity - The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
  • Peripheral Vision - The ability to see objects or movement of objects to one's side when the eyes are looking ahead.


  • Interest code: ER
    • Enterprising - Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
    • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Work Context

  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 93% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 90% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 85% responded “Every day.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 82% responded “Very important results.”
  • Contact With Others - 79% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 86% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 69% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 69% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Telephone - 55% responded “Every day.”
  • In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment - 69% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 77% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 57% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Consequence of Error - 68% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable - 71% responded “Every day.”
  • Outdoors, Exposed to Weather - 47% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 45% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results - 63% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Time Pressure - 45% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting - 41% responded “Every day.”
  • Level of Competition - 32% responded “Moderately competitive.”
  • Physical Proximity - 44% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Deal With External Customers - 48% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 44% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 35% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Electronic Mail - 35% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants - 33% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled - 35% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Whole Body Vibration - 47% responded “Every day.”
  • In an Open Vehicle or Equipment - 40% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Standing - 42% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Very Hot or Cold Temperatures - 30% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Letters and Memos - 30% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Spend Time Sitting - 39% responded “Less than half the time.”
  • Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment - 40% responded “Not important at all.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions - 34% responded “Less than half the time.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations - 41% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
52%Post-secondary certificate
22%High school diploma or equivalent
11%Less than high school diploma

Work Styles

  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Social Orientation - Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Work Values

  • Independence - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Achievement - Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Working Conditions - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $34.10 hourly, $70,920 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 39,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Average (5% to 9%)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 4,400

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