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How Many Jobs Are Available in Marine Transportation?

Written By: Megan Miller
Reviewed by: Mike Reyes
Last Updated October 5, 2023

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Marine transportation is a booming industry with many jobs available. The field of marine transportation includes everything from deckhands to captains. It can be a great career choice if you have the necessary qualifications and many opportunities for advancement.

This guide will discuss the availability of jobs and discuss all important aspects of joining marine transportation as a career choice.

What is Marine Transportation?

Marine transportation is the process of transporting goods and materials by water. This can include cargo ships, barges, and other watercraft. It is an important part of the global economy and plays a vital role in transporting goods and people. Marine transportation can be used to move cargo between different countries and is often less expensive than other forms of transportation. It is also a reliable way to move large shipments and can be used for short-term and long-term needs.

Marine Transportation in the U.S

The United States is a maritime nation, with more than 95,000 miles of coastline and more than 30,000 miles of navigable inland waterways. Marine transportation supports our economy by transporting goods to and from U.S. ports—including those in Alaska and Hawaii—and moving passengers between our coastal communities and beyond.

Marine transportation is a critical part of the U.S. transportation system, and the Coast Guard is responsible for ensuring its safety and security. The Coast Guard maintains aid to navigation throughout our waterways, inspects vessels for safety compliance, investigates marine incidents, and patrols our coasts to deter illegal activity.

There are many employment opportunities in marine transportation. The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for ensuring maritime traffic safety, and there are also many jobs available with private shipping companies. Mariners who hold an appropriate license can find work on cargo ships, passenger vessels, and tugs and towboats. There are also many opportunities in naval architecture and marine engineering.

What Jobs Are Available in Marine Transportation?

There are many jobs available in marine transportation. Some of these jobs include deckhands, engineers, and captains. Deckhands help keep the ship clean and perform other tasks on deck. Engineers operate the ship’s engines and other machinery. Captains are responsible for the safe operation of the ship. Let’s learn more about these roles.


In the marine transportation industry, there are various pilot roles necessary for the safe and efficient operation of a vessel. Some pilots are responsible for guiding ships into and out of port, while others are responsible for navigating vessels through hazardous or congested waters. Pilots must have extensive knowledge of the waterways they navigate and must be able to make quick decisions to keep vessels safe. They also play a critical role in preventing accidents and pollution.

Maritime Lawyer

In the marine transportation industry, maritime lawyers play a vital role in ensuring the safety of those who work on and use the waterway. Maritime law is a complex and ever-evolving area of law that governs all aspects of maritime activity. From admiralty law to contract disputes, maritime lawyers must have a comprehensive understanding of this unique area of law to provide effective representation to their clients.

Maritime lawyers work for various clients, including ship owners, operators, and crew members. They may also represent passengers or cargo interests in maritime accidents or other incidents and disputes. Maritime lawyers must be able to think on their feet and make quick decisions to protect their clients’ interests. They also need to effectively communicate with people from all backgrounds, including those with little knowledge of the law.

Ship Captain

The maritime transportation industry is responsible for the shipment of goods and passengers worldwide. The industry is a vital part of the global economy, and ship captains are at the forefront of this industry. A ship captain’s responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of a voyage, from planning and preparation to execution and follow-up. In addition to their operational duties, ship captains must also comply with regulations set by governing bodies such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Deck Hand

The deckhand role in the marine transportation industry is a critical one. Deckhands are responsible for safely and efficiently unloading and loading cargo onto and from ships. They must be able to work quickly and accurately under pressure, often in difficult and dangerous conditions. Deckhands must be physically fit, able to lift heavy objects, and have good stamina. They must also be knowledgeable about the types of cargo they are handling and the correct procedures for handling them.


In the marine transportation industry, engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and operating ships and other watercraft. They must be able to think critically and solve problems to keep vessels moving safely and efficiently. 

There are several different engineering roles in this field, from naval architects who design ships to marine engineers who work on engines and propulsion systems. Some engineers also specialize in safety, navigation, or cargo handling. No matter their focus, all engineers in the marine transportation industry need to have a strong understanding of fluid mechanics, shipbuilding principles, and maritime law.

How Do I Become a Marine Transportation Worker?

If you’re looking for a career that’s always on the move, marine transportation might be just the thing for you. There are many different jobs in this field, from captains and pilots to deckhands and engineers. But how do you become one of these maritime workers? Read on to find out.

Most marine transportation careers require a high school diploma or equivalent. However, some positions may require more education or experience. For example, pilots need a bachelor’s degree in marine science or engineering, while captains need several years of experience sailing merchant ships.

Once you’ve graduated from high school (or obtained your equivalency), it’s time to start looking for a job in the maritime industry. You can search online job boards or visit local shipping companies to inquire about open positions. Or check the International Maritime Organization for career opportunities. 

The Outlook for a Marine Transportation Worker

The outlook for a marine transportation worker looks promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment for water transportation workers is expected to grow by 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. 

Jobs in this occupation are often located in coastal areas and can be dangerous, so the BLS advises individuals interested in this field to be prepared for long hours and hazardous working conditions. 

What Should I Know Before Choosing Marine Transportation as a Career?

There are many transportation careers to choose from, but one that is often overlooked is marine transportation. It can be a great career choice for those who enjoy the water and working with boats. Before choosing a career in marine transportation, there are many things to consider, such as the necessary skills and what it takes to succeed in the field.

Deciding to join marine transportation as a career can be difficult, especially if you don’t have all the information. Here are some things you should know before making a decision.

First, take some time to think about what you want. What are your goals, and what are you hoping to get out of this decision? Once you know what you want, it will be easier to find the right solution.

Second, gather as much information as possible. This includes doing your research and talking to experts in the marine transportation industry. The more information you have, the better informed your decision would be.

Third, weigh the pros and cons of each role based on your interest. This can help you decide which role is best for you.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re struggling to decide whether to join marine transportation as a career or not, talking to someone else can often help clear things up.

How Many Jobs Available in the Marine Transportation Industry?

The marine transportation industry is a key part of the global economy, moving goods and people worldwide. As of June 2024, more than 8,400 jobs are available in the marine transportation industry. Thanks to the increasing demand for maritime services, the industry is growing rapidly. If you’re interested in a career in the marine transportation industry, many opportunities await you.

Future of Marine Transportation Worker

The maritime industry has a long and proud history of providing efficient, reliable transportation of goods worldwide. The workers who operate and maintain the ships that make this possible are critical to the success of this industry, and the future looks bright for these workers. Advances in technology make marine transportation more efficient than ever before, and there is a growing demand for these workers. With a strong economy and a need for efficient transportation, the future looks bright for marine transportation workers.

Salary of a Marine Transportation Worker

Cruise Ship Jobs in Marine Transportation Infographic

The marine transportation worker typically has an annual salary of $62,760 per year. Most of these workers are employed by the merchant marines, and they are responsible for the safe and efficient transport of goods and people by water. The work can be dangerous and challenging, but it is also very rewarding. The marine transportation worker is responsible for the safe operation of various vessels, including cargo ships, tankers, passenger ferries, and cruise ships. They must have a comprehensive knowledge of navigation, weather conditions, and maritime law.

Training and Education Needed to Become a Marine Transportation Worker

Becoming a Marine Transportation Worker requires significant training and education. The United States Coast Guard must license mariners to work on vessels operating in U.S. waters. There are many different types of licenses, and each has its specific requirements.

The most common route to becoming a licensed mariner is completing an approved maritime academy program. These programs typically last 4 years and offer a degree in marine transportation or a related field. Some academies also offer shorter certificate programs for those who already have experience in the maritime industry.

Once you have your license, there is no shortage of opportunities for advancement in the marine transportation field. With the right combination of experience and training, you can move up through the ranks to become a captain, pilot, or other key position on a vessel.


The demand for marine transportation services is on the rise, as evidenced by the increase in maritime cargo volumes and global trade growth. The marine transportation industry can provide opportunities for individuals with various skillsets and backgrounds. Whether you’re looking for a career change or want to expand your horizons, the marine transportation industry is a great place to start.

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