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Water Transportation Workers

Annual Earnings Percentiles

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  • Purpose: 47
  • Supported: 35
  • Analytical: 33
  • Social: 22
  • Creative: 19

What Water Transportation Workers Do

Water transportation workers operate and maintain vessels that take cargo and people over water. The vessels travel to and from foreign ports across the ocean and to domestic ports along the coasts, across the Great Lakes, and along the country’s many inland waterways.

Work Environment

Water transportation workers usually work for long periods and can be exposed to all kinds of weather.

How to Become a Water Transportation Worker

Education and training requirements vary by the type of job. There are no educational requirements for entry-level sailors and oilers, but officers and engineers usually must have an endorsement certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard. Most water transportation jobs require the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) from the Transportation Security Administration and a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC).

College Majors

Showing data from the American Community Survey for the following US Census occupation categories:

  • Sailors and marine oilers, and ship engineers
  • Ship and boat captains and operators

Bachelor's degree majors are shown.

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    Job Outlook

    Employment of water transportation workers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. The growing demand for bulk commodities such as iron ore, grain, and petroleum should increase the need for these workers.

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    Job Trends for Water Transportation Workers

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    This occupation supported 81,500 jobs in 2012 and 78,400 jobs in 2014, reflecting a decline of 3.8%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 13.4% in 2022 to 92,399 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 83,600, compared with an observed value of 78,400, 6.2% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 9.0% in 2024 to 85,699 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 94,500 jobs for 2024, 10.3% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.

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