There are currently an estimated 38,800 ship captains in the United States. The ship captain job market is expected to grow by 8.8% between 2016 and 2026.

How employable are ship captains?

CareerExplorer rates ship captains with a C employability rating, meaning this career should provide moderate employment opportunities for the foreseeable future. Over the next 10 years, it is expected the US will need 10,100 ship captains. That number is based on 3,400 additional ship captains, and the retirement of 6,700 existing ship captains.

Are ship captains in demand?

Demand for ship captains is based in part on the expected increases in freight shipping and cruise ship tourism. Opportunities, not surprisingly, tend to be centred in coastal areas and near freshwater ports. In addition to openings with cruise lines and cargo shipping companies, ship captains may find employment with oil service companies, research organizations, regional ferry operators, national coast guards and navies, or with owners of private yachts. They may also consider land-based positions with shipping companies, marine insurance companies, and manufacturers of boilers or related machinery. The need to replace retiring captains or those who leave the occupation should produce some additional openings. Candidates significantly improve their chances of employment if they have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in marine transportation. In the United States, captains of passenger or cargo vessels are required to have two certifications: the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) and the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). They must also complete a radar observer’s course and advanced courses in firefighting; and must pass a Coast Guard examination in navigation, safety seamanship, and the rules of operating a ship. Generally, ship captains complete an extended apprenticeship, which is often offered by the company employing them. Further to these education and training requirements, applicants for ship captain positions are subject to high regulatory and security requirements. As well, they must be prepared to spend extended periods of time away from home.

What’s the supply of ship captains?

The ship captain industry is concentrated in Louisiana, Florida, Texas

Ship Captain job market by state

State Name Employed Ship Captains
Louisiana 6,290
Florida 5,650
Texas 2,820
Virginia 2,060
New York 1,850
Washington 1,800
Hawaii 1,190
Kentucky 1,110
Illinois 1,100
Mississippi 910
Alaska 750
Tennessee 700
Maryland 540
New Jersey 480
South Carolina 420
Massachusetts 380
Indiana 350
Pennsylvania 330
North Carolina 310
Oregon 280
Georgia 270
Ohio 270
Connecticut 240
Michigan 190
Virgin Islands, U.S. 190
Puerto Rico 180
Alabama 170
Arkansas 160
Maine 160
Wisconsin 140
Rhode Island 130
Delaware 80
Iowa 70
Minnesota 60
New Hampshire 50