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10 Best Paying Jobs in Marine Transportation

The marine transportation industry is a vital component of the global economy, providing essential services to a variety of industries. For individuals looking to enter the field, there are a number of exciting and lucrative job opportunities available. 

In this article, we will explore the best-paying jobs in marine transportation and provide tips on how to enter the field.

What is Marine Transportation?

Marine transportation is the movement of people and goods by boat or ships over oceans, rivers, and other bodies of water. It is a major component of the global transportation network, providing an important link between land-based transportation and the global marketplace. 

Marine transportation is used for a variety of activities, including carrying freight and passengers, fishing, oil and gas exploration and production, and leisure activities.

Typical Prerequisites in the Marine Transportation Industry

  1. High school diploma or equivalent
  2. Education in marine-related fields such as marine science, nautical engineering, or maritime law
  3. Knowledge of basic navigation
  4. Physical ability to work aboard a vessel
  5. Ability to work in a team environment
  6. Knowledge of basic computer programs
  7. Working knowledge of maritime laws and regulations
  8. Certification in areas such as first aid, firefighting, and hazardous materials
  9. U.S. Coast Guard approved licensing
  10. Ability to pass a drug screening and background check
marine transportation

Best Paying Jobs in Marine Transportation

1. Maritime Lawyer

A maritime lawyer is a type of attorney who specializes in laws governing the shipping industry, including the laws of marine transportation, marine insurance, and international maritime law. Maritime attorneys advise clients on matters related to the shipping industry, such as vessel registration, crew contracts, marine cargo claims, vessel liens, and environmental regulations. They also represent clients in court proceedings related to marine-related matters.

In order to become a maritime lawyer, an individual must first obtain a law degree from an accredited law school. Once they have obtained their law degree, they must sit for and pass the bar exam in the state in which they wish to practice. 

Additionally, many maritime lawyers choose to become certified in admiralty law by the American Bar Association, and may also choose to receive specialized training in maritime law through organizations such as the American Maritime Law Association.

Average Salary: $54,000 – 170,000 per year

Lawyer consultation

2. Admirals

An admiral in marine transportation is a senior naval officer in charge of a fleet or group of ships. They typically command a naval squadron or a fleet of ships and are responsible for the safety and security of the vessels, personnel, and cargo in the area of operations.

Becoming an admiral in the US Navy requires a great deal of experience and education. Officers typically enter the Navy through one of the Officer Candidate Programs, such as the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), or through the direct commissioning program. 

They must then complete various courses and training programs and gain experience in the fleet before they can be promoted to the rank of admiral.

Average Salary: $110,000 – 203,000 per year

3. Ship Captain

ship captain

A ship captain in marine transportation is the senior and most experienced officer on the ship and is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the vessel. They are responsible for the navigation and management of the ship and its crew, ensuring that the ship complies with all applicable laws and regulations.

To become a ship captain in marine transportation, you will need to obtain a valid maritime license from the country you wish to work in. This usually requires you to have completed a minimum of three years of sea service, and have passed a written and practical examination. 

You may also need to pass specific medical and drug tests and be able to demonstrate competency in the operation of the vessel.

Average Salary: $104,000 – 133,000 per year

4. Ship Pilot

A ship pilot is a mariner who is specially trained and licensed to safely guide vessels through navigable waters. Ship pilots typically board vessels upon entering and exiting ports, as well as through channels and other hazardous areas. They use their expertise to advise captains and crews on the safest and most efficient passage.

To become a ship pilot, you will need to complete a comprehensive apprenticeship program. This will involve on-the-job training, as well as classroom instruction. Many states also require ship pilots to pass a licensing exam. Depending on the state, this may involve a written and/or practical test. Additionally, many employers require ship pilots to have experience as a mariner or a related marine position.

Average Salary: $36,810 – 153,000 per year

ship pilot

5. Port Engineer

A port engineer in marine transportation is a professional who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the vessels, equipment, and systems used in the transportation of goods and services via sea. 

They ensure that the ships, barges and other vessels used in marine transportation are in compliance with the relevant regulations and laws, as well as the operational procedures and safety standards of the organization they are working for. Port engineers are also responsible for monitoring the performance of the vessel and ensuring that it is safe and efficient.

To become a port engineer in marine transportation, you need to have a degree in a field related to engineering, such as marine engineering, mechanical engineering, or naval architecture.

 Additionally, you will need to have a valid Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credential and have completed a course in marine engineering or related subjects. You may also need to have a background in shipboard operations and experience in maintenance, repairs, and inspections.

Average Salary: $87,900 – 109,000 a year

6. Marine Engineer

marine engineer

A marine engineer in marine transportation is responsible for the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of the machinery and systems used in ships and other maritime vessels. 

This includes propulsion systems, power generation systems, navigation systems, and other machinery and systems related to the operation of the vessel. Marine engineers also provide technical advice and support to the crew and operators of the vessel, ensuring that the vessel is operated in a safe and efficient manner.

In order to become a marine engineer, you will need to complete a relevant degree in marine engineering or a related field, such as mechanical engineering. After completing the degree, you will then need to take and pass the exams required to become a certified marine engineer. After this, you will need to gain experience in the field and apply for a job in the marine transportation industry.

Average Salary: $73,000 – 95,500 a year

7. Marine Superintendent

MArine superintendent

A marine superintendent is a person responsible for overseeing the operation of a marine vessel, including its personnel and cargo. They are also responsible for ensuring that the vessel is operated in a safe and efficient manner and in compliance with all applicable laws.

To become a marine superintendent, you must typically have a bachelor’s degree in maritime operations, engineering, or a related field. You must also have experience in the marine industry and have a valid merchant mariner credential. In addition, you must pass a written examination administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Average Salary: $73,000 – 105,000 a year

8. Sailing Master

A sailing master is responsible for the navigation of a ship, its cargo, and its crew. They are responsible for planning and executing the voyage, taking into account the ship’s capabilities and the weather conditions. A sailing master will also be responsible for the maintenance of the vessel, its cargo, and its crew.

In order to become a sailing master, you must first obtain a mariner’s credential from the United States Coast Guard. This credential is typically obtained after completing a course of training and obtaining a number of years of experience. Once you have obtained your mariner’s credential, you may then apply for a sailing master position with a marine transportation company.

Average Salary: $80,000 a year

sailing master

9. Marine Geologist

Marine geologists are scientists who study the ocean floor and the processes that shape it. Marine transportation is the transportation of goods and people by boat, ship, or other maritime vessels.

To become a marine geologist, you need to complete a degree in geology, oceanography, or a related field. Additionally, it is helpful to gain experience in the field through internships or research projects. After completing your degree, you may pursue a career in marine geology by obtaining a job in the field.

Average Salary: $80,000 a year

marine geologist

10. Naval Architect

A naval architect in marine transportation is a professional who designs, develops, and oversees the construction of ships and other vessels. They are also responsible for the development of maintenance plans, testing of new and existing vessels, and ensuring the safety of marine personnel and passengers. 

To become a naval architect, you must first earn a degree in naval architecture or a related field, such as mechanical engineering, marine engineering, or shipbuilding. 

Following graduation, you must gain several years of experience in a related field, such as shipbuilding or naval engineering, before being able to become a professional naval architect. Once you have the required experience, you can take the exam to become a certified naval architect.

Average Salary: $62,000 – 148,000 a year


Is marine transportation a good career path?

Yes, marine transportation can be a good career path. It can provide a steady job with good pay, and it can be very rewarding to work in the marine industry. Additionally, those who are interested in working in marine transportation can find many opportunities in the US and around the world.

Is there a difference between maritime and marine transportation?

Yes, there is a difference between maritime and marine transportation. Maritime transportation involves the transport of cargo, passengers, and goods across bodies of water. Marine transportation, on the other hand, is focused on the transport of goods, cargo, and people across oceans, seas, and other waterways.

Which type of ship has the highest salary?

The type of ship with the highest salary depends on the particular job. For example, captains of large cargo ships or tankers can earn very high salaries, along with other positions such as chief engineers, chief mates, and marine engineers. Other positions, such as deckhands or tanker men, may have lower salaries.

How hard is a career in marine transportation?

A career in marine transportation is not necessarily difficult, but it can take a lot of hard work and dedication to become successful. Those interested in a career in marine transportation should be prepared to learn new skills, stay up-to-date on industry regulations and standards, and be flexible in order to succeed.

What are the disadvantages of marine transportation?

The main disadvantage of marine transportation is that it can be dangerous and unpredictable. Working on a ship can be physically and mentally demanding, and there is the risk of injury or death due to accidents on the water. Additionally, there can be long periods of time away from family and friends.

How hard is a career in marine transportation?

To have an edge in getting a high-paying marine transportation job, it is important to have the right qualifications. This includes certifications and licenses, such as the Merchant Mariner Credential, as well as experience in the industry. Additionally, having strong communication skills and knowledge of various types of vessels can be beneficial.


Marine transportation is a rewarding and exciting field for those who are looking for a career that combines the joys of the sea with a solid income. There are many opportunities available for those who have the skills and desire to work in this type of environment. 

With a solid education and certification, you can expect to find a high-paying position in the maritime industry.

Charles McMillan
Charles McMillan
Charles is a family man, an entrepreneur, and a writer. He is skilled in finding the balance between efficiency, affordability, and high-quality offerings when it comes to business services. He’s on a continuing mission to discover and rediscover the most popular LLC services, while sharing his most accurate assessment and review to help business owners like himself.