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Career Profile: Sailors and Marine Oilers

Stand watch to look for obstructions in path of vessel, measure water depth, turn wheel on bridge, or use emergency equipment as directed by captain, mate, or pilot. Break out, rig, overhaul, and store cargo-handling gear, stationary rigging, and running gear. Perform a variety of maintenance tasks to preserve the painted surface of the ship and to maintain line and ship equipment. Must hold government-issued certification and tankerman certification when working aboard liquid-carrying vessels. Includes able seamen and ordinary seamen.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 27,600 people employed as sailors and marine oilers in the United States. The median annual salary is $46,720. Entry level employees earn approximately $29,120 per year and senior employees earn approximately $78,340 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Tie barges together into tow units for tugboats to handle, inspecting barges periodically during voyages and disconnecting them when destinations are reached.
  • Attach hoses and operate pumps to transfer substances to and from liquid cargo tanks.
  • Handle lines to moor vessels to wharfs, to tie up vessels to other vessels, or to rig towing lines.
  • Read pressure and temperature gauges or displays and record data in engineering logs.
  • Stand watch in ships' bows or bridge wings to look for obstructions in a ship's path or to locate navigational aids, such as buoys or lighthouses.
  • Maintain government-issued certifications, as required.
  • Examine machinery to verify specified pressures or lubricant flows.
  • Maintain a ship's engines under the direction of the ship's engineering officers.
  • Break out, rig, and stow cargo-handling gear, stationary rigging, or running gear.
  • Lubricate machinery, equipment, or engine parts, such as gears, shafts, or bearings.
  • Measure depth of water in shallow or unfamiliar waters, using leadlines, and telephone or shout depth information to vessel bridges.
  • Clean and polish wood trim, brass, or other metal parts.
  • Participate in shore patrols.
  • Overhaul lifeboats or lifeboat gear and lower or raise lifeboats with winches or falls.
  • Stand gangway watches to prevent unauthorized persons from boarding ships while in port.
  • Record data in ships' logs, such as weather conditions or distances traveled.
  • Splice and repair ropes, wire cables, or cordage, using marlinespikes, wire cutters, twine, and hand tools.
  • Load or unload materials, vehicles, or passengers from vessels.
  • Chip and clean rust spots on decks, superstructures, or sides of ships, using wire brushes and hand or air chipping machines.
  • Provide engineers with assistance in repairing or adjusting machinery.
  • Operate, maintain, or repair ship equipment, such as winches, cranes, derricks, or weapons system.
  • Paint or varnish decks, superstructures, lifeboats, or sides of ships.
  • Give directions to crew members engaged in cleaning wheelhouses or quarterdecks.
  • Stand by wheels when ships are on automatic pilot, and verify accuracy of courses, using magnetic compasses.
  • Steer ships under the direction of commanders or navigating officers or direct helmsmen to steer, following designated courses.
  • Relay specified signals to other ships, using visual signaling devices, such as blinker lights or semaphores.
  • Lower and man lifeboats when emergencies occur.
  • Sweep, mop, and wash down decks to remove oil, dirt, and debris, using brooms, mops, brushes, and hoses.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
27,600
Annual Openings:
3,300
Increase in Openings by 2031:
0%
Annual Salary Range:
$29,120 - $78,340
Education Requirements:
Some high school