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Working as a Merchant Seaman

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 $25.9 an hour? That's $53,868 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.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a merchant seaman, we found that a lot of resumes listed 33.3% of merchant seamen included cargo operations, while 30.2% of resumes included deck equipment, and 22.9% of resumes included major repairs. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

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 21.1% of merchant seamen have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 2.6% 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 assistant treasurer. Meanwhile, many merchant seamen also have previous career experience in roles such as charge bookkeeper or assistant controller.

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Average Salary$53,868
Job Growth Rate-2%

Merchant Seaman Demographics

Gender

male

87.3 %

female

8.9 %

unknown

3.8 %

Ethnicity

White

67.4 %

Hispanic or Latino

15.6 %

Black or African American

10.9 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Russian

50.0 %

Norwegian

50.0 %
See More Demographics

Merchant Seaman Education

Majors

Business
11.5 %
History
11.5 %

Degrees

High School Diploma

44.7 %

Bachelors

21.1 %

Certificate

18.4 %
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Top Merchant Seaman Employers

1. Maersk Line
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$47,161
Merchant Seamans Hired: 
5+
2. Exxon Mobil
5.0
Avg. Salary: 
$75,646
Merchant Seamans Hired: 
3+
3. Edison Chouest Offshore
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$69,880
Merchant Seamans Hired: 
2+
4. US Merchants
3.3
Avg. Salary: 
$64,596
Merchant Seamans Hired: 
2+
5. SEACOR Holdings
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$67,613
Merchant Seamans Hired: 
2+
6. Weeks Marine
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$94,708
Merchant Seamans Hired: 
1+
Updated October 2, 2020