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Best Paying Jobs In Marine Transportation

Last updated 03/15/2024 by

Taylor Milam-Samuel

Edited by

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Some of the best-paying jobs in marine transportation include ship captain, marine superintendent, and port engineer. If you’re looking for a unique career with ocean proximity as a job requirement, then marine transportation might be a good fit for you. The jobs in this field require specialized skills and can be demanding, but the pay often correlates to the work.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the marine transportation industry, you’ve definitely consumed goods that were part of it. The marine transportation industry encompasses any job or profession that utilizes water to transport products, natural resources, or people.
This industry contributes billions of dollars to the economy and creates tens of thousands of jobs. A lot of the best-paying jobs are specialized, meaning they require specific education and training. As a result, some of the jobs in the marine transportation industry are well compensated.

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Best-paying jobs in marine transportation

Below we feature some of the best-paying jobs in marine transportation, plus what the jobs entail and how to enter the field. These are the average salaries for each role.
JobAverage salary
Marine biologist$64,650
Marine superintendent$72,785
Marine surveyor$75,256
Marine architect$79,297
Marine engineer$79,939
Port engineer$93,009
Ship captain$98,330

Marine biologist

Average salary: $64,650
Probably one of the better-known jobs on the list, marine biologists study the ocean. This includes the oceans’ plants, animals, and current conditions.
You might wonder how this connects to marine transportation, but it’s important to understand how the waterways function. Studies from marine biologists can impact legislation and laws that regulate the marine transportation industry.

Marine ship superintendent

Average salary: $72,785
If you hear the term “superintendent,” you might think of a public school district. But a ship superintendent is actually involved in marine transportation. In fact, marine superintendents play an important role in the industry.
They’re responsible for the logistics of the crew, goods, docking decisions, and more. In other words, they’re the top managers for everything related to a particular vessel.

Marine surveyor

Average salary: $75,256
Marine surveyors play an important role because they ensure that all vessels are in working condition. This might include inspections on the ship or even reviewing specific parts of the boat.
A marine surveyor checks machinery, ship maintenance, electrical setup, gas, and cargo on the vessel as well. Marine surveyors are usually hired to help with boat inspections before ship owners make a purchase. They also complete inspections before or after a journey, and inspections for insurance claims.

Pro Tip

Marine transportation isn’t the only industry that’s often overlooked for work. There are also high-paying jobs in oil and gas production and competitive salaries in the public utilities sector as well. If you’re looking for a job that pays well, don’t be afraid to get creative and consider industries that others might overlook.

Marine architect and naval architect

Average salary: $79,297
Similar to other architects, marine architects are responsible for the design, structure, and planning of marine vessels. Architects are usually involved in the technical aspects when a boat is built (or when it’s being rebuilt).
Like the rest of the field, naval architecture exists to ensure that the boat is structurally sound and safe for the waterways.

Marine engineer

Average salary: $79,939
Marine engineers are responsible for designing and testing the structure for boats and other marine transport vessels. Because of these requirements, marine engineers have several technical skills and must have a deep understanding of engineering.
Usually, marine engineers have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. Due to the technical nature of the role, in-depth education is usually required. If you’re looking to restart or further your education for a marine engineer position, remember that education doesn’t come cheap. Take a look at some of the private student loans below to ensure you get the best terms for your higher education expenses.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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Port engineer

Average salary: $93,009
Port engineers are another type of engineer who is common in the marine transportation industry. If you’ve ever seen a port or watched a boat dock, then you’ve seen some of the work of port engineers.
A port engineer is responsible for ensuring the safety and structural functionality of ports. This usually means that port engineers don’t work on the vessels themselves but rather work on land or at the port.

Ship captain

Average salary: $98,330
Ship captains are responsible for everything that happens on board a ship. In addition to this, they also ensure that the ship meets all rules, maritime regulations, mechanical systems, and maritime laws.
It’s a big responsibility to be in charge of a ship and its crew members. As a result, the pay usually correlates. In order to work in this role, you must have a specific license.

Maritime lawyer and other jobs

These are just a few of the best-paying jobs in marine transportation, but there are many other jobs you could pursue. Here are some additional jobs in the maritime industry that might make a good career path.
  • Maritime lawyer
  • Naval architect
  • Vessel operator
  • Ship security officer
  • Marine mechanic
  • Maritime lawyer
  • Marine technician
  • Ship safety officer
  • Marine deck officer
  • Coast guard
  • Ship security officer
  • Crew member
  • Boat builder
  • Ship security officer
  • Cargo loader
  • Port captain
  • Marine welder
  • Marine service manager

How to transition careers

If you’re interested in changing industries or entering a new job within your current industry, then it’s important to be strategic when you make the switch. Jonathan Thomas, a financial coach and founder of Money Talks, points out that your skillset is vital to keep in mind when switching careers.
Most skills are often transferable so look to apply your skills to the growing sectors in the economy. This will help you increase your income potential, and offer you a more sustainable growth track,” Thomas says.
It’s always a good idea to start by researching what jobs are available in a specific industry and then figure out which jobs apply to your skills, interests, and areas of expertise. If you’re in between jobs or just looking to make some extra cash, check out these side jobs.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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Is the maritime industry a good fit for me?

Whether a career path is right for you depends on what you’re looking for in a job. If you’re looking for the best-paying jobs, then you might want to consider other career paths. Even though marine transportation isn’t necessarily the most lucrative career path, it still offers solid compensation, though.
When considering which industry to pursue, Thomas explains that it’s important to look at the big picture of job outlook and personal skills: “You should seek out the industry that offers you the ability to strengthen your skills while also developing new valuable skillsets.”


When is marine transportation important?

Marine transportation is how many goods travel from one place to another. Most people don’t think about it, but a wide variety of everyday items travel through marine transportation on an international ship or national ship before arriving at the final destination.
In fact, the containership backup that occurred off the coast of Southern California in 2022 illustrated the importance of marine transportation. While the containerships waited to be able to unload, there were noticeable shortages of everyday items, including food. Without sea transport, life would look a lot different for most consumers.

What are three types of marine vessels?

Barges, tankers, and ferries are three common types of sea transportation. Barges are added on to the back of ships to add more space for cargo. So if you ever see a very large ship that looks like it’s connected to another ship, you’re probably looking at a barge. Tankers are a type of ship specially designed to transport liquids and natural gas, and ferries primarily transport people across rivers, bays, and other waterways.
However, there are many other marine vessels as well. Some of those include naval ships, cargo ships, cruise ships, and other watercraft.

What is the most common type of vessel?

Unless you work in marine transportation, you’ll probably use a ferry most often. There are ferry systems across America and the world that allow people to commute to work, transport personal cars, and get from one place to another.

Is marine transportation a good career path?

Marine transportation usually offers decent job stability and interesting problems to solve. However, it can be a demanding career. This is especially true if your job requires you to be on the water or adhere to tight deadlines.
In addition to this stress, it’s not typically cited as one of the highest-paying fields. So if you’re looking for the best-paying jobs, you might want to consider jobs in finance or even jobs in major banks.

Where do I have to live for the job?

Marine transportation jobs are usually located near the ocean. Some people view this as a perk of the job while others balk at the cost of living along the coast. If you love living near the beach, but don’t want to work in marine transportation, you could consider other jobs in coastal states. For example, Florida has unique job opportunities and California offers some of the highest-paying jobs around.

Key Takeaways

  • There are some well-paying jobs in marine transportation. Some of the most highly compensated jobs in the field include ship captain, port engineer, and marine engineer.
  • If you’re interested in joining the industry, you might need special certifications or specific education, so be sure to look at the requirements for the job you want.
  • Work-life balance can be tricky in this industry due to the demanding nature of the job and the possibility of tight deadlines. It might be a good idea to understand the ins and outs of the industry before making a career change or switch.
  • If you’re interested in earning more money, but aren’t ready to pursue a new industry, then you might want to consider a part-time job or side hustle. There are a wide variety of gigs to choose from and you can usually make your own schedule.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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Taylor Milam-Samuel

Taylor Milam-Samuel is a personal finance writer and credentialed educator who is passionate about helping people take control of their finances and create a life they love. When she's not researching financial terms and conditions, she can be found in the classroom teaching.

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