Best Paying Jobs in Marine Transportation

If the ocean and the sea are calling out to you, you’re probably the kind of person who would pursue a career in marine transportation. The traveler in you will find the career in marine transportation to be exciting and filled with adventure.

This industry’s task is transporting people or goods over vast waterways with cruisers, cargo ships, and ferries. To be able to fulfill its task it needs naval architects, marine, ocean, and port engineers, ship and boat builders, cargo ship workers, captains, electricians and pipefitters, welders, and mechanical engineers. Many marine transportation jobs to choose from if you’re looking for a good salary with all its benefits.

Working in marine transportation can be fulfilling and rewarding at the same time. The marine industry offers many professions where you’ll have the opportunity to work on ships or off ships if you choose a land-based job. Either way, you should be aware of the best paying jobs in marine transportation, and the ones in demand.

This article will take you on an introduction cruise to the best paying jobs in marine transportation. Check out these great options if you intend to follow a career path in the marine transportation industry. That way you’ll find both a well-paid job and a job you love doing!

12 Best Paying Jobs in Marine Transportation

If you’re interested in a career on the water, there are a variety of high paying options available to you. Some of the best paying jobs in the marine transportation industry are:

  1. Port engineer- $92,722 average salary
  2. Marine engineer- $91,250 average salary
  3. Sailing master- $79,931 average salary
  4. Marine superintendent- $84,100 average salary
  5. Marine surveyor- $74 448 average salary
  6. Dock worker-$42,375 average salary
  7. Diving supervisor- $68,341 average salary
  8. Ship pilots-$89,740 average salary
  9. Cargo ship workers- $70,609 average salary
  10. Maritime lawyers- $86,514 average salary
  11. Commercial divers- $60,000 to $148,000
  12. Admirals- $110,000+

Each of these positions has its own set of skill requirements, certification and education requirements, risk factors, and salary ranges, but they all pay way above the average salary in the United States. We’ve tried to ensure you get all this information in this article and help you find which of these best paying jobs in marine transportation suits you best. Read on and find out each job’s particularities.

1. Port engineer

According to Payscale’s research, the average salary of a port engineer in the US is $92,722. The average salary according to a port engineer’s experience is as follows:

  • Average total pay (including tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $87,519, for one to four years of experience (based on 13 salaries)
  • Average total pay of $86,739, for five to nine years of experience (based on 35 salaries)
  • Average total pay of $85,219, for ten to nineteen years of experience (based on 13 salaries)
  • Average total pay of $104,228 for more than twenty years of experience

Not bad, not bad at all! These data place the port engineer profession on the list of best paying jobs in marine transportation. If a port engineer is something you aspire to become you should be able to:

  • Provide engineering assistance
  • Complete engineering tasks
  • Manage a group of port specialists
  • Identify potential engineering flaws and repair them on time
  • Conclude maintenance tasks regularly
  • Follow precise marine and safety procedures to prevent accidents
  • Work well in a team and on your own
  • Help define schedules and priorities when cargo is included
  • Register your progress to the port supervisor
  • Keep records of repair activities and expenses
  • Read technical drawings, blueprints, and repair manuals
  • Be proficient with office software programs
  • Perform monthly inspections to meet government regulations

To fill in the position of port engineer you’ll need an engineering degree in marine operations or a similar field. As in every other job previous experience in a port engineering capacity is always welcomed. To increase your chances of getting the job, try submitting additional certifications.

2. Marine engineer

The information on states that the averagemarine engineersalary in theUSis$91,250. Marine engineers’ salary with just a few years of experience starts at$72,269 while the most experienced marine engineers can make up to$116,500per year.

Besides having one of the best paying jobs in marine transportation, as a marine engineer, you should be skilled to:

  • Research, design, create, and build new naval vessels (naval ships, passenger boats, submarines, military battleships, aircraft carriers, or cruise ships)
  • Maintain and restore existing marine vessels
  • Create blueprints and design engines and thrust systems
  • Create and test prototypes of different vessels
  • Work in a team environment
  • Supervise the construction of full-size ships
  • Travel in the US or overseas

If you’d like to work as a marine engineer for the military you’ll have to obtain military school training. If not you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science, math, or other relevant fields. Besides the required education, to be competitive in the labor market and become a marine engineer you’ll also need great computer and communication skills, and previous experience is always a plus.

3. Sailing master

If we analyze statistics the average salary of a sailing master in the US is $79,931. Sailing masters’ salaries in the US range from $38,310 to $134,950 with the top 80% earning $134,950.

According to the International, Sailing School Association becoming a sailing master is far from easy. Before you apply for the sailing master training you need to have prior experience and certification. You’ll need:

  • 60 days at sea as captain or watch leader
  • At least 5 sails in 3 different sea areas
  • 2 routes over 100 nautical miles as captain
  • First aid and sea survival certificates

Once you meet these conditions and you’re at least 18 years old you can start your 40 hours of training which covers the exam preparation. If you think that’s enough, it’s not! You need the whole package:

  • Proper appearance
  • Confidence
  • Calmness in every situation that may occur or escalate
  • Great communicational skills with your crew

If you have all the requirements and skills for a sailing master you’ll be applying for one of the best paying jobs in marine transportation. Good luck!

4. Marine superintendent

According to Salary Research, the average salary of a marine superintendent is$84,100, while the salary range is between$71,558and$103,304. Salary ranges depend on the level ofeducation, certifications, additional skills,and experience in the field.

The necessary requirements and qualifications to become a marine superintendent are:

  • Bachelor’s degree in marine administration or a correlated field
  • Command experience (at least 5 years)
  • Certificate of competency- class 1, from a whitelisted country in the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
  • Understanding of the Classification Society rules and Flag State obligations
  • Familiarity with procedures for ship repair and safety
  • Computer skills and marine operations knowhow

As a marine superintendent, you’ll be acting as a supervisor and you’ll have the following dockside and office responsibilities:

  • Coordinate procedures and maintain vessels in a shipyard
  • Contact each ship, including ship-owners and commercial operators
  • Perform dockside inspections, dry-docking, organizing repair and maintenance, applying safety procedures
  • Manage the ships’ budgets in your purview

If a marine superintendent is one of the best paying jobs in marine transportation you’re after, you’d better start fulfilling all the qualifications and requirements to accomplish your goal.

5. Marine surveyor

The average salary of a marine surveyor in the US according to Payscale is $74,448 per year. According to the years of experience, the salary varies. For example:

  • With one to four years of experience as a marine surveyor, you’ll earn an average of $65,000 (based on 22 salaries)
  • With five to nine years of experience as a marine surveyor, you’ll earn an average of $79,765 (based on 22 salaries)
  • With ten to nineteen years of experience as a marine surveyor, you’ll earn an average of $80,000 (based on 20 salaries)
  • Marine surveyor with a career of over twenty years earns an average of $82,424.

Now, since you’re familiar with the payment rates here are the tasks performed by a marine surveyor:

  • Check ship’s condition and goods
  • Make sure marine vessels are safe, seaworthy, and in compliance with regulations
  • Observe cargo loading and unloading
  • Conduct inspection reports
  • Disseminate findings to managers and ship owners
  • Apply statutory safety and quality controls

If you enjoy working in an outdoor setting and you love traveling, you’ll surely find the job of a marine surveyor exciting. Teamwork and interpersonal skills are essential in this work post. You should also have other skills like attention to detail and the capacity to precisely describe and categorize information. Usually, it’s necessary to understand the industry and have a prior experience in the field of at least 3 years. Last but not least it’s important to be proficient in writing and electronic communication.

6. Dock worker

According to the Economic Research Institute a dock worker in the US earns an average pay of$42,375a year and$20an hour. Dock workers’ average salary range is between$31,061and$50,468 a year.

On average, the highest level of education for a dock worker is a high school degree. Nevertheless, a dock worker has many responsibilities including:

  • Unmooring ships upon leaving
  • Keeping a precise record of damaged or misplaced cargo
  • Examining the unloaded cargo
  • Detecting cargo damages or irregularities
  • Obeying loading plans
  • Participating in training programs if necessary
  • Securing cargo before leaving using ropes and lashings

If you aspire to become successful as a dock worker, you should be able to communicate with other dock workers well to evade accidents and injuries. When it comes to physical strength you should have excellent physical stamina and the ability to safely operate heavy machineries like forklifts, hand trucks, pallet jacks, cranes, power winches, and grain trimmers.

7. Diving supervisor

The average diving supervisor’s salary in the US according to Salary expert is $68,341 and an average bonus of $1,326. When it comes to salary and experience there are two categories:

  • A diving supervisor with one to three years of experience earns an average salary of $49,293
  • A diving supervisor with over eight years earns an average salary of $84,124

If a diving supervisor is an ideal profession for you, you should be skillful with different power and hand tools. As a diving supervisor, you should be prepared to handle drills, sledgehammers, torches, and welding equipment. Once you become a diving supervisor will:

  • Work below the water surface
  • Ensure the safety of the diving operation
  • Manage any accidents that may happen during the diving operation
  • Plan and oversee the entire dive
  • Use scuba gear to examine, repair, and install equipment and constructions
  • Perform tests, set explosives, and photograph structures or marine life

8. Ship pilots

Based on the Recruiter’s data a ship pilot’s salary in the US is somewhere between $36,810 and $153,070 a year. As in other professions, the salary is based on education and experience, so you can expect an average salary of $89,740 a year.

No wonder ship pilots made it to our list of best paying jobs in marine transportation. If ship pilot is your future vocation you should obtain a US Coastguard license to be able to work. Once the license is obtained you’ll be able to command ships, and guide them in and out of harbors, lakes, bays, and other areas. Also, a ship pilot’s position requires vocational training or above, and up to two years of formal training before you start working.

When you acquire all requirements as a ship pilot you should:

  • Supervise a crew and ensure the ship safely reaches its destination
  • Command and navigate marine vessels (transport personnel and goods)
  • Prepare crew and ship for crises
  • Track and assess records for cargo, crew, and ship maintenance
  • Organize crews for all ship duties in the harbor and at sea

If this is something you can see yourself doing then being a ship pilot could be your future job.

9. Cargo ship workers

According to Simply hired the average annual salary of cargo ship workers is $70,609. If you’re wondering what positions are included in cargo ship jobs it’s good to know they include any positions included in helping container ships move cargo from one port to another.

Captain, officers of the watch, engineers, electricians, and other skilled workers are some of the different cargo ship positions you may land. Each position has its specific duties you should be aware of. For example:

  • Deckhands keep a clean and safe deck, paint the ship, and tow cargo
  • Deck officers supervise the deck, organize watch, and report any problems that may occur to the captain or other deck masters
  • Captains oversee the entire ship’s operation

If you want to fill one of these high paying positions you’ll need marine certification that includes age requirements, proven sea skills, and competency in different areas of ship protocol and maintenance

Usually, you start as an able seaman to understand the trade and study for exams. Once you complete the exams along with your experience on the ship you’ll be able to move up the ranks and have more responsibilities. In addition to the certification engineers and other machinery or electrical operators need a background and training in their field.

10. Maritime lawyers

Maritime lawyer’s salary on ranges from $18,053 to $481,665, with an average salary of $86,514 a year. 57% of maritime lawyers earn between $86,515 and $218,218, with the top 86% earning $481,665.

If your goal is to have one of the best paying jobs in marine transportation you may be after the position of a maritime lawyer. Check out the set of requirements necessary to become a maritime lawyer:

  • Education-wise, you need to graduate from a recognized law school
  • Acquire a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree
  • Pass state bar association exams
  • Obtain a license to practice law in that state

Hence, if you’re interested in the position of a maritime lawyer, your first step would be to apply to a maritime law school or enroll in a law school that offers maritime law courses and internship opportunities. That way you’ll be able to receive wide education in maritime legal subjects like maritime insurance and liability, international treaties, shipping industry policies, cargo damage, personal injury, and environmental law.

Maritime lawyers with experience earn much more than the ones right out of law school who usually earn less. At first, the inexperienced maritime attorneys work as associates under the guidance of more knowledgeable attorneys with expertise in admiralty law. After proving themselves on the job, they may become partners in a firm and charge higher fees. If you’re up to it proper maritime law education, experience and ambition can land you the job of a maritime lawyer.

11. Commercial Divers

The official data of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics percentile wage estimates for commercial divers to be $160,110 (90%), $115,330 (75%), and $60,360 (50%) a year.

According to Commercial Diving Academy, a commercial diver could be an exciting and profitable career for veterans, ex-military, and any person seeking adventure, and wanting more than just an average nine-to-five job.As a commercial diver, it will be expected of you to perform work under the most challenging circumstances, so you need to be highly trained, certified, and to be in top physical and mental condition to:

  • Dive and perform other duties upon supervisor’s directive
  • Inform about any medical problems during or after the dive
  • Be well aware of the routine and emergency methods
  • Guarantee full understanding of the dive plan
  • Carry out planned tasks
  • Make sure diving equipment is working correctly and is appropriate for the planned dive

Besides the tasks, you should know that the salary of the commercial diver is usually determined by four factors: experience, employer, location, and depth of the dive. So depending on these factors, you could earn even more if you’re experienced and work in a difficult underwater environment. Only the sky is the limit for this job that proudly stands on our list of best paying jobs in marine transportation.

12. Admirals

The starting pay for an admiral on Federalpay is $16,974.90 per month and $203,699 per year. Admirals’ duty and responsibility are to hold the highest major navy commands, like the chief and vice-chief of naval operations, director of a naval nuclear program, fleet forces command and national security administration, and US cyber command.

A commandant of the coast guard is the equivalent rank to a navy admiral. The rank of admiral appointed to the commandant of the coast guard is a four-star flag officer rank that entails many responsibilities:

  • Be in charge of Coast Guard operations
  • Oversee active-duty military employees, reserves, full-time civilian employees, and civilian volunteers
  • Provide safe, secure, and environmentally thorough use of the waterways around the United States

There are three active commands outside the United States in addition to the Pacific and Atlantic area commands, covering the Far East, Europe, and Southwest Asia. The commandant’s mandate is four years, and while active he/she reports directly to the President of the United States. Being an Admiral is surely one of the best paying jobs in marine transportation and one of the most demanding.


We can say with certainty that whether you’re just starting your career in marine transportation or you’re looking for a change, there are many great options to consider. Review the list of the best paying jobs in marine transportation carefully, and make your own list of pros and cons. That way you’ll have a clear picture of the salary ranges, requirements, and skill sets necessary for the career you’ve envisaged.

One thing’s for sure working in marine transportation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s one of those career paths that are both rewarding and filled with many opportunities and benefits. Choose one of the many available jobs in the marine transportation industry, and find the role you love best.

In the end, if your goal is a stable, high-paying job with great benefits, then a job in marine transportation might be the right fit for you!

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