How Many Jobs Are Available in Marine Transportation?

Updated June 15, 2023

The marine, or maritime, transport industry offers many onshore and offshore positions suited to various professional specialties, such as management or engineering. You may also find that many professions in marine transportation are beginner-friendly, making this industry ideal for those who lack experience. If you wish to pursue a career in marine transportation, it is important to familiarize yourself with the industry.

In this article, we explore what marine transportation is, how many jobs are available and relevant roles within this industry.

What is marine transportation?

Marine transportation involves moving passengers and goods between countries and continents by water. This industry is intrinsic to the global economy as it enables the international movement of people and materials. Common modes of marine transportation include:

  • Container ships

  • Passenger ferries

  • Bulk-carriers

  • Barges

  • Roll-on/roll-off ships

Related: 12 Ocean Jobs for Marine Enthusiasts (With Salary Info)

How many jobs are available in marine transportation?

Many roles are available in marine transportation suited to a wide spectrum of interests and varying levels of experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates an average of 8,700 job openings each year between 2021 and 2031, meaning there will be 75,900 positions by 2031. A key factor influencing the need for marine transportation professionals is the demand for industrial commodities, such as iron, grain and oil.

The positions with the highest projected employment include:

  • Captains, mates and pilots of vessels: 37,200 occupations by 2031

  • Sailors and marine oilers: 27,700 occupations by 2031

  • Ship engineers: 7,800 occupations by 2031

  • Motorboat operators: 3,100 occupations by 2031

Related: 9 Careers in Transportation To Explore

How much do marine transportation jobs pay?

According to the BLS, the national average salary for professionals working in marine transportation is $62,760 per year. This is 7.7% higher than the national average salary of all occupations in America. The highest-paying roles within marine transportation are:

  • Ship engineers: $82,410 per year

  • Captains, mates and pilots: $81,640 per year

  • Sailors and marine oilers: $46,720 per year

Marine transportation includes several subsectors, which also influence wages. The highest-paying subsectors within this industry include:

  • Support activities for marine transportation: $77,680 per year

  • Deep sea, coastal and great lakes marine transportation: $77,220 per year

  • Inland water transportation: $75,560 per year

Benefits of working in marine transportation

There are many reasons people pursue jobs in marine transportation. If you are undecided on whether this industry is right for you, explore the benefits of working in marine transportation and determine whether they match your criteria. Three benefits of working in marine transportation include high salaries, relative job security and opportunities for advancement.

Related: Travel Jobs: Are They Right For You?

8 jobs in marine transportation

The following list of marine transportation occupations will help you discover a role that's right for you. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit

1. Deckhand

National average salary: $36,643 per year

Primary duties: A deckhand is an entry-level occupation that involves loading and unloading luggage or cargo from a vessel, coordinating with crew members to relay information, carrying out watch-keeping duties and assisting with the general maintenance of a vessel, such as cleaning ship equipment. Deckhands primarily respond to lead deckhands or bosuns when receiving tasks and reporting information. This role requires a basic understanding of deck upkeep, vessel operations and machinery handling.

Related: How To Find Deckhand Jobs (With 9 Types of Jobs)

2. Shipping associate

National average salary: $40,557 per year

Primary duties: Shipping associates prepare and arrange shipments for maritime transit. This includes processing order requests, packaging goods, tracking orders and placing shipments in pickup points for collection. This role is entry- to mid-level and requires excellent management and organization skills to maintain a business's quality standards and ensure successful shipment coordination.

Related: How To Become a Shipping Coordinator in 6 Steps (With Tips)

3. Dockworker

National average salary: $43,865 per year

Primary duties: Dockworkers assist with the operations of incoming vessels. They moor ships during arrival and departure, prepare docks, load and unload equipment and shipments and keep an updated record of any damaged goods. This role is physically demanding, as it involves lifting heavy cargo and machinery.

Related: How To Get Hired As A Dock Worker in 6 Steps (With Salary Info)

4. Marine oiler

National average salary: $57,800 per year

Primary duties: Marine oilers operate within the engineering department of a vessel. This role involves working in a ship's engine room, maintaining the lubrication of a vessel's internal systems, including water pumps, propulsion engines and air conditioning systems. They additionally clean equipment and machinery, perform frequent temperature and pressure gauge checks, replace filters and occasionally repair equipment.

5. Captain

National average salary: $67,313 per year

Primary duties: Captains oversee all onboard operations of a ship and work to control and navigate vessels through open waters. This advanced role includes monitoring cargo operations, adhering to safety and security regulations, managing and delegating tasks and using radio communication systems to communicate with other ships and onshore entities. Because captains operate in open waters, they must have extensive knowledge of international maritime laws alongside an advanced awareness of flag-state and port-state policies.

Related: How To Become a Cruise Ship Captain in 7 Steps (Plus Salary)

6. Marine logistics manager

National average salary: $68,225 per year

Primary duties: Marine logistics managers oversee and organize the provisions of marine transportation. Common tasks include developing and assessing budgets, planning shipment routes, processing shipments, supervising the distribution of materials and coordinating the storage of a company's goods. Excellent management and organizational skills are paramount to this position.

Related: What Does a Logistics Manager Do? (With Job Description)

7. Marine Engineer

National average salary: $86,848 per year

Primary duties: Marine engineers exclusively work on maritime vessels to design, maintain, repair and install onboard systems and tools. This role also involves overseeing checks to ensure equipment functions in line with environmental laws and health and safety regulations. While marine engineers will work onboard vessels, they also work offshore to prepare designs and relative strategies.

Related: 7 Steps To Become a Marine Engineer

8. Maritime Lawyer

National average salary: $96,543 per year

Primary duties: A maritime lawyer, or attorney, specializes in insurance issues involving cargo, vessels and conflicts between two parties involved in marine transportation, such as a vessel owner and passengers. Common topics covered by maritime lawyers include inspection, insurance and registration of vessels and international maritime law. This position often involves representing a client in court to settle legal disputes.

Related: Top 11 Pros and Cons of Being a Lawyer

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