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Tankerman Job Description

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Generally, the main responsibility of a tankerman is to prepare and maintain the vessel he's assigned to and to monitor the safe and efficient transfer of liquid cargo to and from the vessel. The exact job responsibilities will depend on the requirements of his employer and the type of vessel he works on -- for example a barge on a river or an oil tanker on the high seas. A tankerman must be capable of heavy physical labor, be familiar with government regulations regarding the vessel he is working on and be able to work prolonged hours and days, because shifts aboard the vessel can run from several days to several months.

General Job Responsibilities

The tankerman ensures the safety of the vessel and that it complies with government regulations, including confirming that all necessary documents are complete and accurate. He must be able to communicate clearly, in English, with all personnel and verify that each worker clearly understands his job duties. The tankerman must be able to handle, overhaul, rig and maintain all lines in addition to performing general maintenance of the vessel, such as chipping and painting and general maintenance of on-board equipment.

Education and License Requirements

Most marine companies required that the tankerman has either a high school diploma or a GED. The tankerman must have the required documentation and license, based on the vessel he will be working on. For instance, for a tankerman working on a vessel transporting petroleum or other chemicals, the employer may require courses to meet requirements detailed in federal regulations under 46 CFR Part 197 Subpart C – Benzene. Additionally, the tankerman must be familiar with and follow the environmental and legal regulations in the jurisdiction where he's working, in addition to having the necessary license.

Safety and Rescue Requirements

The tankerman is responsible for safe working and living conditions on board. He must be capable of training other personnel in safety and dealing with emergency situations. He has to be able to wear safety equipment, including gloves, goggles, steel-toe boots and a respirator. He may help in firefighting situations and needs to be familiar with the necessary equipment. The tankerman must understand the material safety data sheets carried on board and be able to communicate necessary information to the crew.

Physical Demands

The tankerman must be in excellent physical condition because of the heavy physical demands of the job. Flexibility is necessary, including a full range of motion, because some responsibilities, such as tying up a vessel, may require twisting and flexing in awkward positions. A tankerman may have to climb ladders, walk catwalks and walk on surfaces that are uneven or slippery. He must have a good sense of smell to be able to detect potentially dangerous odors. He also needs good lung function to be able to perform heavy labor and should possess dexterity to handle tools, strength for heavy lifting and the ability to walk several miles a day as he monitors the condition of the rigging and vessel during transferring operations.

Tankermen Employment and Labor Information 2023

Tankermen Employment Brief:

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.

Tankermen Job Description

Here is a Job Description an employer might post for potential Tankermen.

Tankermen Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Maintain a ship's engines under the direction of the ship's engineering officers.
  • Steer ships under the direction of commanders or navigating officers or direct helmsmen to steer, following designated courses.
  • Tie barges together into tow units for tugboats to handle, inspecting barges periodically during voyages and disconnecting them when destinations are reached.
  • Sweep, mop, and wash down decks to remove oil, dirt, and debris, using brooms, mops, brushes, and hoses.
  • Load or unload materials, vehicles, or passengers from vessels.
  • Provide engineers with assistance in repairing or adjusting machinery.
  • Lubricate machinery, equipment, or engine parts, such as gears, shafts, or bearings.
  • Participate in shore patrols.
  • Overhaul lifeboats or lifeboat gear and lower or raise lifeboats with winches or falls.
  • Stand by wheels when ships are on automatic pilot, and verify accuracy of courses, using magnetic compasses.

Typical Daily Tasks of Tankermen:

  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials: Inspect equipment to ensure proper functioning. Inspect material-moving equipment to detect problems.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings: Monitor equipment gauges or displays to ensure proper operation. Monitor surroundings to detect potential hazards.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events.
  • Getting Information.
  • Controlling Machines and Processes: Control pumps or pumping equipment. Operate cranes, hoists, or other moving or lifting equipment.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems.
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment: Maintain material moving equipment in good working condition. Maintain watercraft engines or machinery.
  • Handling and Moving Objects: Connect hoses to equipment or machinery. Paint surfaces or equipment. Secure watercraft to docks, wharves or other vessels. Set up material handling gear or equipment, such as rigging, packaging, or temporary structures.
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information: Measure the level or depth of water or other liquids.
  • Performing General Physical Activities: Clean vessels or marine equipment. Load shipments, belongings, or materials.

Tankermen Skills and Requirements:

  • Systems Evaluation Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Repairing Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
  • InternetNavigating the Internet to find information, including the ability to open and configure standard browsers; use searches, hypertext references, and transfer protocols; and send and retrieve electronic mail (e-mail).
  • Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Word ProcessingUsing a computer application to type text, insert pictures, format, edit, print, save, and retrieve word processing documents.
  • Persuasion Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Management of Financial Resources Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
  • Operations Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Tankermen Salary and Wages:

Average Salary: 58,450. Education: typical education requirements include High school diploma or equivalent.

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Data from May 2023 courtesy of U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program.


Diane Stevens' professional experience started in 1970 with a computer programming position. Beginning in 1985, running her own business gave her extensive experience in personal and business finance. Her writing appears on Orbitz's Travel Blog and other websites. Stevens holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from the State University of New York at Albany.

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