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:
Supervise and coordinate activities of crew engaged in operating and maintaining engines, boilers, deck machinery, and electrical, sanitary, and refrigeration equipment aboard ship.
On the job, you would:
Start engines to propel ships, and regulate engines and power transmissions to control speeds of ships, according to directions from captains or bridge computers.
Maintain or repair engines, electric motors, pumps, winches, or other mechanical or electrical equipment, or assist other crew members with maintenance or repair duties.
Perform or participate in emergency drills, as required.
Engineering and Technology
product and service development
Arts and Humanities
movement of people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road
thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Hand and Finger Use
keep your arm or hand steady
put together small parts with your fingers
Ideas and Logic
notice when problems happen
use rules to solve problems
quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Data base user interface and query software
Facilities management software
Computerized maintenance management system CMMS
Marine Software Marine Planned Maintenance
certificate after high school or high school diploma/GED usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.