According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the nation's merchant marine consists of privately owned, U.S. registered merchant ships. Employment within the merchant marine of the U.S. is handled by the owners of the various ships and other watercraft making up the fleet. Some labor unions and other organizations affiliated with the merchant marine also provide employment opportunities. The salary for merchant mariners varies widely and depends on duties and responsibilities as well as experience.
Merchant Marine Average Salary
The average salary for the merchant marine is $45,000 as of 2014, according to the SimplyHired careers website, which also puts the 2014 average salary for a merchant marine captain, the master of the ship, at about $46,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median salary for water transportation occupations in general as $48,990 as of 2012. Captains, mates and pilots of water vessels earned about $75,580 annually in 2013, per BLS statistics.
Training Programs and Universities
Graduates of certain merchant marine training programs as well as those obtaining degrees from four-year academies generally find little difficulty in obtaining jobs. The DOT's Maritime Administration, for example, supports six state maritime training academies, including the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at King's Point, NY. One hundred percent of USMMA graduates are offered jobs, according to the CollegeData website. USMMA graduates also earn average starting salaries of $60,000 annually, as of 2014.