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What Does A Deckhand Do?

A deckhand is a seafarer whose role primarily revolves around performing manual tasks, mostly directed by a manager or higher authority. They are mainly responsible for maintaining cleanliness, keeping the machines well-oiled and in good condition, handling cargo, and operating various equipment for navigation and communication. There are also instances when a deckhand can prepare meals, serve clients, and even prepare cabins. Furthermore, a deckhand needs to coordinate with fellow seafarers at all times, as working in a ship can be very unpredictable.

Here are examples of responsibilities from real deckhand resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Conduct daily JSA's, occasionally lead weekly fire and boat drills.
  • Spearhead cross-functional initiative to achieve successful whole shipments of wild Alaskan salmofrozen and gut.
  • Comply with all environmental and CFR regulations.
  • Sign DOI and go over pretransfer procedures.
  • Assist captain of boat in BP oil spill efforts
  • Draw and modify the weir box with AutoCAD.
  • Qualify shipboard firefighting and water survival, certify CPR human resources.
  • Used air purifying respirator (SCBA) and air monitoring equipment.
  • Monitor GPS and plot location of crab traps and chart course.
  • Continue to stay current with USCG and company policy and procedure changes.
Deckhand Traits
Customer-service skills
Customer-service skills involve listening skills that allow you to communicate efficiently and respectfully with a customer.
Manual dexterity
Manual dexterity describes being skilled in using your hands when it comes to physical activity.
Physical strength
Physical strength refers to one's ability to lift, carry and move physical objects.

Deckhand Overview

When it comes to understanding what a deckhand does, you may be wondering, "should I become a deckhand?" The data included in this section may help you decide. Compared to other jobs, deckhands have a growth rate described as "decline" at -2% between the years 2018 - 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the number of deckhand opportunities that are predicted to open up by 2028 is -1,800.

A deckhand annual salary averages $48,701, which breaks down to $23.41 an hour. However, deckhands can earn anywhere from upwards of $17,000 to $139,000 a year. This means that the top-earning deckhands make $76,000 more than the lowest-earning ones.

Once you've become a deckhand, you may be curious about what other opportunities are out there. Careers aren't one size fits all. For that reason, we discovered some other jobs that you may find appealing. Some jobs you might find interesting include a marine oiler, cadet, bosun, and able bodied seaman.

Deckhand Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 11% of Deckhands are proficient in Twic, Vessel Maintenance, and Customer Service. They’re also known for soft skills such as Customer-service skills, Manual dexterity, and Physical strength.

We break down the percentage of Deckhands that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Twic, 11%

    Obtained a Transportation Workers' Identification Credentials(TWIC) card prior to being hired on for Kirby Inland Marine.

  • Vessel Maintenance, 10%

    Assisted barges for the loading and discharging of cargoes* Performed scheduled vessel maintenance* Performed tool and equipment maintenance

  • Customer Service, 8%

    Maintained a reputation for thoroughness, excellent customer service, and an ability to overcome problems with innovative solutions.

  • Safety Rules, 8%

    Practiced safety rules and regulations.

  • Uscg, 7%

    Helped customize, maintain, and operate Federally Documented Vessel in accordance with USCG Rules and Regulations.

  • Safety Procedures, 7%

    Monitored the availability and use of lifesaving equipment and ensured that International Maritime safety procedures were followed.

Most deckhands list "twic," "vessel maintenance," and "customer service" as skills on their resumes. We go into more details on the most important deckhand responsibilities here:

  • Customer-service skills can be considered to be the most important personality trait for a deckhand to have. According to a deckhand resume, "many motorboat operators interact with passengers and must ensure that the passengers have a pleasant experience." Deckhands are able to use customer-service skills in the following example we gathered from a resume: "watch keeping, small boat tour captain, guest relations, vessel maintenance"
  • While it may not be the most important skill, we found that many deckhand duties rely on manual dexterity. This example from a deckhand explains why: "crewmembers need good balance to maneuver through tight spaces and on wet or uneven surfaces." This resume example is just one of many ways deckhands are able to utilize manual dexterity: "understand and implement all company safety rules, procedures and policies as stated in the responsible carrier program manual. "
  • Another skill that is quite popular among deckhands is physical strength. This skill is very critical to fulfilling every day responsibilities as is shown in this example from a deckhand resume: "sailors on freight ships load and unload cargo" This example from a resume shows how this skill is used: "worked as part of a team in extreme weather conditions & under exceptional physical & mental stress. "
  • A deckhand responsibilities sometimes require "mechanical skills." The responsibilities that rely on this skills are shown by this resume excerpt: "members of the engine department keep complex machines working properly." This resume example shows how this skill is used by deckhands: "performed minor mechanical work and routine equipment maintenance. "
  • As part of the deckhand description, you might find that one of the skills that might be helpful to the job is "visual ability." A deckhand resume included this snippet: "mariners must pass a vision test to get an mmc." This skill could be useful in this scenario: "inspect equipment, such as lifesaving equipment, visual-signaling equipment, towing, and dredging gear to detect problems. "
  • See the full list of deckhand skills.

    We've found that 22.6% of deckhands have earned a bachelor's degree. Furthermore, 1.9% earned their master's degrees before becoming a deckhand. While it's true that some deckhands have a college degree, it's generally possible to become one with only a high school degree. In fact, one out of every two deckhands did not spend the extra money to attend college.

    Those deckhands who do attend college, typically earn either a business degree or a general studies degree. Less commonly earned degrees for deckhands include a precision metal working degree or a criminal justice degree.

    Once you've obtained the level of education you're comfortable with, you might start applying to companies to become a deckhand. We've found that most deckhand resumes include experience from Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, Harley Marine Services, and United States Department of Defense. Of recent, Archer-Daniels-Midland Company had 14 positions open for deckhands. Meanwhile, there are 5 job openings at Harley Marine Services and 4 at United States Department of Defense.

    If you're interested in companies where deckhands make the most money, you'll want to apply for positions at Savage Industries, Jeri's Seafood, and UIC. We found that at Savage Industries, the average deckhand salary is $38,930. Whereas at Jeri's Seafood, deckhands earn roughly $29,735. And at UIC, they make an average salary of $27,902.

    View more details on deckhand salaries across the United States.

    Some other companies you might be interested in as a deckhand include United States Navy, AMERICAN LINE BUILDERS, and Chevron. These three companies were found to hire the most deckhands from the top 100 U.S. educational institutions.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious deckhands are:

      What Marine Oilers Do

      In this section, we compare the average deckhand annual salary with that of a marine oiler. Typically, marine oilers earn a $10,747 higher salary than deckhands earn annually.

      There are some key differences in responsibilities as well. For example, a deckhand responsibilities require skills like "twic," "vessel maintenance," "customer service," and "safety rules." Meanwhile a typical marine oiler has skills in areas such as "regular basis," "safety inspections," "major repairs," and "compliance plans." This difference in skills reveals how truly different these two careers really are.

      Marine oilers tend to reach higher levels of education than deckhands. In fact, marine oilers are 50.7% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 8.7% more likely to have a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Cadet?

      A cadet is responsible for assisting police officers on their duties to keep the peace and order within the society. Cadets undergo training programs covering police officer disciplines and law enforcement procedures. They support various activities under the supervision of police officers, including road and traffic control, patrolling a designated area, securing special occasions, and helping with the investigation of criminal activities. A cadet may also perform administrative tasks in the station, such as filing documents, responding to visitors' inquiries and concerns, and updating records in the database.

      Next up, we have the cadet profession to look over. This career brings along a lower average salary when compared to a deckhand annual salary. In fact, cadets salary difference is $3,241 lower than the salary of deckhands per year.

      Not everything about these jobs is different. Take their skills, for example. Deckhands and cadets both include similar skills like "cpr," "routine maintenance," and "emergency" on their resumes.

      But both careers also use different skills, according to real deckhand resumes. While deckhand responsibilities can utilize skills like "twic," "vessel maintenance," "customer service," and "safety rules," some cadets use skills like "veterans," "public safety," "cadets," and "law enforcement."

      On the topic of education, cadets earn similar levels of education than deckhands. In general, they're 1.2% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 8.7% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      How a Bosun Compares

      A bosun is responsible for monitoring the deck crew operations, delegating tasks, and inspecting the ship's equipment and facilities to ensure the safety and security of the premises. Bosuns must have excellent technical and mechanical skills to manage the deck's conditions, analyzing weather inconsistencies and geographical positioning. They also conduct maintenance repairs for the equipment for the stability and smooth operations of the deck area. A bosun must be able to work for extended hours, as well as the ability to multitask to perform various tasks under minimal supervision.

      Let's now take a look at the bosun profession. On average, these workers make higher salaries than deckhands with a $8,953 difference per year.

      There are many key differences between these two careers as shown by resumes from each profession. Some of those differences include the skills required to complete responsibilities within each role. As an example of this, a deckhand is likely to be skilled in "twic," "vessel maintenance," "customer service," and "safety rules," while a typical bosun is skilled in "general maintenance," "safety gear," "ran," and "engine room."

      Bosuns are known to earn similar educational levels when compared to deckhands. Additionally, they're 3.8% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 0.4% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of an Able Bodied Seaman

      An able-bodied seaman is responsible for overseeing the deck operations on a ship, ensuring the safe movement and navigation of the vessel, watchstanding, and helping in loading and unloading of materials. Able-bodied seamen also inspect the stability and efficiency of deck equipment and ship's engine, scheduling regular maintenance and repairs to avoid potential hazards and delays in the operations. They also analyze the weather conditions and other factors, informing the management and the crew of any critical situations that may potentially pose risks with the ship's operations.

      The fourth career we look at typically earns higher pay than deckhands. On average, able bodied seamen earn a difference of $8,891 higher per year.

      According to resumes from both deckhands and able bodied seamen, some of the skills necessary to complete the responsibilities of each role are similar. These skills include "twic," "safety rules," and "uscg. "

      Each job requires different skills like "vessel maintenance," "customer service," "safety procedures," and "passenger safety," which might show up on a deckhand resume. Whereas able bodied seaman might include skills like "rig," "hand tools," "stcw," and "helm."

      In general, able bodied seamen reach similar levels of education when compared to deckhands resumes. Able bodied seamen are 0.1% less likely to earn their Master's Degree and 0.3% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.