What does a sailor do?
Sailors assist in the operation of water vessels and their deck equipment while being supervised by officers. They work on many different vessels such as towboats, tugboats, dredges, ferries, excursion vessels, deep-sea merchant ships, offshore supply vessels, and other water craft on oceans, rivers, lakes, canals, and other bodies of water. They are responsible for maintaining the non-engineering areas and watching out for navigation aids (lighthouses and buoys), obstructions, and other vessels that the vessel may encounter. They measure the depth of the water and often steer the ship. Sailors are also responsible for maintaining and operating deck equipment such as anchors, lifeboats, and cargo-handling equipment. They also help with fixing mechanical problems and plotting courses.
What kind of training does a sailor need?
Sailors need at least a high school diploma. Many sailors start their careers by working on a large ship and gaining the essential experience and training to become a sailor. Some sailors have military experience in the United States Navy or Coast Guard. Others complete formal training and learn a variety of topics such as basic boat handling, water safety, navigation, and trigonometry. Some aspiring sailors gain assistant instructor’s certification to improve their skills and gain teaching and sailing experience. Sailors must also have first aid and CPR training. Some employers require licenses depending on the position. Sailors that provide instruction must be a certified sailing instructor for small boats. Other employers require the United States Coast Guard professional license.
What are the prospects for a career as a sailor?
Employment of sailors is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 16% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increase in tourism and international trade will drive job growth.
Job prospects should be good especially for sailors with extensive experience. There will be many job opportunities from the need to replace sailors that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.
How much do sailors make?
As of November 2009, the average annual salary for sailors is $56,000; average annual sailor salaries vary greatly on location, industry, company, education, experience, and benefits (2).
A career as a sailor is a great choice for individuals who have a great passion for water and operating a variety of watercraft. Sailors must be in good general health and have physical stamina. Manual dexterity, good balance, coordination, and good decision making skills are essential characteristics. Sailors must have flexible schedules and be able to be away from home for long periods of time. They must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to work as part of a team. They must be able to work in less desirable and sometimes dangerous conditions.