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There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a merchant seaman. For example, did you know that they make an average of $26.44 an hour? That's $54,996 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow -2% and produce -1,800 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Merchant Seaman Do

There are certain skills that many merchant seamen have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed customer-service skills, hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity.

How To Become a Merchant Seaman

If you're interested in becoming a merchant seaman, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 21.4% of merchant seamen have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 0.0% of merchant seamen have master's degrees. Even though some merchant seamen have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a merchant seaman. When we researched the most common majors for a merchant seaman, we found that they most commonly earn high school diploma degrees or bachelor's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on merchant seaman resumes include associate degree degrees or diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a merchant seaman. In fact, many merchant seaman jobs require experience in a role such as forklift operator. Meanwhile, many merchant seamen also have previous career experience in roles such as driver/owner operator or apprentice electrician.

Average Salary for a Merchant Seaman

Merchant Seamen in America make an average salary of $54,996 per year or $26 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $144,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $20,000 per year.
Average Merchant Seaman Salary
$54,996 Yearly
$26.44 hourly
10 %
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Merchant Seaman Education

Merchant Seaman Majors

Merchant Seaman Degrees

High School Diploma

50.0 %


21.4 %


21.4 %

Top Skills For a Merchant Seaman

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 33.3% of merchant seamen listed cargo operations on their resume, but soft skills such as customer-service skills and hand-eye coordination are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Merchant Seaman Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Merchant Seaman templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Merchant Seaman resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Merchant Seaman Demographics

Merchant Seaman Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among merchant seamen, 5.7% of them are women, while 94.3% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among merchant seamen is White, which makes up 65.1% of all merchant seamen.

  • The most common foreign language among merchant seamen is Russian at 50.0%.

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Top Merchant Seaman Employers

Most Common Employers For Merchant Seaman

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1SEACOR Holdings$156,618$75.302
2Exxon Mobil$143,192$68.843
4Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution$85,039$40.881
5Keystone Holdings$70,399$33.851
6SIU Credit Union$64,753$31.131
7U S Merchants$64,402$30.962
8Liberty Maritime$63,629$30.591
9Edison Chouest Offshore$62,322$29.962
10Weeks Marine$56,944$27.381