Outdoors every day in sun, wind, and rain, with steady legs on a shifting deck, at times with no land in sight… the lifestyle of sailors and marine oilers isn’t for everyone, but for those who love life on the water, there’s nothing like it. Sailors—also called deckhands— operate and maintain vessels and deck equipment, and keep their ship in good working order. Sailors stand watch for hazards or other vessels in the ship’s path, and keep track of navigational buoys to stay on course. They clean decks, maintain lifeboats, and paint and patch the ship’s surface. At port, sailors load and unload cargo. They also steer the ship under the direction of commanders, and handle lines to secure the ship when docking, leaving port, or to connect barges when towed by tugboats. Sailors communicate with other ships using the international signal language of lights and semaphores. Marine oilers are the engine room equivalent of sailors. They help engineers with maintenance and repairs to keep the propulsion system in working order. To load fuel supplies, they ensure hoses are secured and pumps operate correctly. Marine oilers monitor gauges and record data to document changes and that procedures have been followed. Although formal education usually is not required, these workers often need credentials issued by the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center.
What they do:
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.
On the job, you would:
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.
Safety and Government
public safety and security
movement of people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road
Engineering and Technology
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
Hand and Finger Use
keep your arm or hand steady
hold or move items with your hands
quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat
use your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down
Hearing and Speech
pay attention to one sound while there are other distracting sounds
tell the difference between sounds
see details that are far away
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
Concern for Others
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Data base user interface and query software
Kongsberg Maritime K-Log Deck Logbook
Electronic mail software
high school diploma/GED or certificate after high school usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.