Top 15 Best Paying Jobs in Marine Transportation (Updated 2024)

Top 15 Best Paying Jobs in Marine Transportation

A fulfilling career in marine transportation might include many prospects for growth and improvement. Deckhands to engine mechanics are just a few of the employment available in the maritime sector.

If you’ve always dreamed of making a career on the water, but weren’t quite sure of where to start – or what the top 15 best paying jobs in marine transportation even are – then you’ve come to the right place.

In this detailed guide we go over (almost) everything you need to know about the best career opportunities in marine transportation.

We are talking about the kinds of jobs that are going to keep you on the water (or close to it) almost every working day of the year, but also jobs that give you the opportunity to make the kind of money that can change your financial future, too.

Let’s dig right in, shall we?

What is the Marine Transportation Industry?

The marine transportation industry is exactly what it sounds like – transportation of people and goods on the oceans and waterways of the world.

While lots of folks operate under the impression that most goods are transported by air these days, the truth is that an almost unbelievable amount of “stuff” gets shipped by water first and foremost.

We’re not just talking about things that will inevitably get sold by Amazon, either.

We are talking about vehicles. We are talking about important raw materials and commodities. We’re talking about people, too.

There are a lot of different jobs and a lot of different responsibilities in the marine transportation industry, with plenty of careers available to pick and choose from that will be perfectly suited to your interests and your ideal salary.

More on that below!

Are Marine Transportation Jobs a Good Career Path?


If you have a real love for the water, dream about spending as much time out on the oceans of the world as possible, and would like to see ports all over our planet – traveling to far-flung locales while getting paid to do so – then the marine transportation industry is likely going to be right up your alley.

Of course, there are also marine transportation jobs and careers a lot closer to home as well.

Those that don’t want to travel quite as much, or want to have the option to transition later in their career to something a little more land locked without leaving marine transportation, will have the opportunity to find those types of careers as well.

Best Paying Jobs in Marine Transportation

You will also like these other popular posts in the best paying jobs category:

1. Marine Service Department Manager

Median Salary – $62,000

Education – High School Education

Projected Growth – 4%

Marine service department managers are responsible for all different types of tasks that have to do with preparing, rebuilding, restoring, or upgrading Marine fleet equipment.

These are basically “boat mechanics” on steroids, responsible for going over every single aspect of a vessel when it comes into port to make sure that it is shipshape and seaworthy. The work is sometimes challenging, always engaging, and very exciting – particularly for those that like to do problem solving and work with their hands.

2. Radio Tech

Median Salary – $71,000

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 4%

Radio technicians are a huge piece of the marine transportation logistics puzzle, not only working to design and install radio communication technology – as well as a whole host of other radio programs – but also working to operate that technology, too.

It isn’t at all uncommon for radio technicians to also be the marine transportation professionals charged with maintaining and upgrading this type of tech. Anything and everything that has to do with radio tools, maintaining the equipment, and making repairs will fall fully under the purview of a radio technician.

3. Marine Surveyor

Median Salary – $84,500

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 3%

Marine surveyors are responsible for inspecting all marine equipment, including the vessels themselves, making sure that they are fully up to date, repaired correctly, have undergone all their necessary maintenance, and are totally seaworthy and just as safe as possible.

On top of all of that, marine surveyors are also usually the professionals that oversee and inspect both the loading of and unloading of all cargo that’s coming on to or getting taken off of ships they are in charge of.

4. Shipbuilding Engineer

Median Salary – $78,000

Education – Engineering degree

Projected Growth – 4%

As modern shipbuilding practices become more and more complex the demand for shipbuilding engineers skyrockets – and for good reason. You can’t exactly cut corners when you are designing multi-million-dollar oceangoing vessels that will form the backbone of a marine transportation operation.

Shipbuilding engineers work with entire teams of engineers to plan out and then actually construct marine vessels. A four year degree program is necessary to get into this kind of career, with an engineering focus, and many companies like to see at least a couple of years of work “in the field” before promoting or hiring advanced positions in this career field.

5. Marine Technician

Median Salary – $51,000

Education – High School Education

Projected Growth – 3%

With oceangoing vessels seeing the kind of traffic and activity they do these days, pressed into almost 24/7, 365 day a year action, it’s not uncommon for these vessels to require repairs, upgrades, and regular maintenance to keep them fully functional.

Marine technicians are the technicians most frequently responsible for handling any repairs and upgrades as well as all maintenance for electrical and plumbing systems on these oceangoing vessels.

These professionals often live on these ships, work in shifts to inspect and upgrade the vessel, but may also work “in the yard” on boats and ships that have been docked waiting for a whole slew of upgrades to be made all at once.

6. Marine Welder

Median Salary – $80,000

Education – High school education

Projected Growth – 5%

The welding trade is one of the most in demand trades in the world right now, with marine welders – professionals that not only know how to weld traditionally, but can also work in marine conditions – being amongst the most well-paid career opportunities in this field.

Welding on dry land is challenging enough as it is. Welding on a boat or ship while it is rocking and rolling out on the ocean is something else entirely. Some marine welders are even capable of going underwater and welding on marine vessels as well as offshore equipment – and they are paid the best of any welders in the world today.

This career can be pursued by anyone with a high school education or even just aptitude and interest in marine welding. Just know that to really make the “big box” marine welders often get certified as scuba divers to work underwater.

7. Marine Painter

Median Salary – $45,000

Education – High school education

Projected Growth – 6%

Painting marine transportation vessels might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but it’s a whole lot more important than just changing the colors on these ships and pieces of equipment.

Paint on a marine vessel is going to protect it from the elements, especially salt water which would love to do nothing more than rust these vessels out completely – rendering them useless and little more than expensive husks of metal, best suited to be scuttled and dropped underwater as an artificial reef.

Marine painting is pretty advanced, with these kinds of professionals having a lot of training in using specialized spray equipment, special paint materials, special prep materials, and a whole lot more.

There is always work for this career field, though. All marine vessels need paint ready much nonstop.

8. Port Engineer

Median Salary – $90,000

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 5%

Port engineers are amongst the most important people in the marine transportation world – and they get paid that way, too.

While the average median salary for a port engineer in the United States currently sits around $90,000, it’s not at all unusual for these experts to make quite a bit more money than that. We’re talking about sometimes up to $500,000 a year or more.

That’s because port engineers are always working to make ports and the port infrastructure as efficient, as safe, and as useful as possible. Ships need to be maintained, schedules need to be kept to, and infrastructure always needs to be repaired, replaced, or upgraded to.

The best port engineers are incredibly organized and comfortable juggling a lot of responsibilities all at once.

9. Naval Architect

Median Salary – $76,000

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 7%

Naval architects aren’t just responsible for designing new boats, ships, and pieces of Marine equipment (though that is often a big piece of the puzzle).

On top of all of that, naval architects are also going to be working with other Marine engineers, port engineers, and ship crews to find ways to build the most effective and efficient marine vessels as well as the infrastructure necessary to support all of this equipment, too.

Naval engineers are masters of technical materials, and leverage powerful computer systems to design and build these ship blueprints, and are generally looking for ways to combine form and function – as well as safety – to produce the most cutting edge and impressive oceangoing vessels the world has ever seen.

10. Shipwright

Median Salary – $42,000

Education – Shipwright Apprenticeship

Projected Growth – 6%

The overwhelming majority of shipwright professionals today start their career at a maritime shipbuilding program or working directly underneath a master shipwright to learn the ins and outs of the trade firsthand.

It isn’t unusual for shipwright apprenticeships to last a couple of years (we’re talking for, five, or even longer), with shipwright professionals almost always taking on apprentices of their own as soon they become a master of the craft themselves.

Some people describe shipwrights as carpenters that work exclusively on ships, but that’s not the only responsibilities these professionals have today. They usually have a little engineering background under their belts, they are able to recommend upgrades and repairs, and work closely with the rest of the ship infrastructure crew to make the vessels they are responsible for as effective as possible.

11. Marine Shipping Broker

Median Salary – $97,000

Education – High school education

Projected Growth – 4%

Marine shipping brokers are amongst the most high paid positions in the maritime transportation world, especially when you consider the fact that they do not necessarily require the most education to break into this field.

While it won’t ever hurt to have a little more formal education under your belt when you pursue a maritime shipping broker opportunity, a lot of the top businesses in this field are totally comfortable hiring people straight out of high school and training them themselves.

Basically working as the middlemen between owners of ships and vessels as well as charter operators, these brokers put these two different groups of people together to help more effectively and efficiently flow goods and people all over the oceans of the world.

12. Marine Vessel Operator

Median Salary – $79,000

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 5%

A lot of people operate under the impression that marine vessel operators have their hands on the wheel of the ship, but that’s not really the responsibility of this career.

No, vessel operators are instead in charge of the “day-to-day” operations on the ship.

They work with management teams across the vessel to come up with the best scheduling, they organize projects and programs on board, and they make sure that every action taken on the vessel is in full compliance with all organizational procedures as well as industry regulations.

13. Able Seaman


Median Salary – $66,000

Education – High school education

Projected Growth – 4%

Able Seaman can be found on board pretty much every single maritime transportation industry vessel, especially since they have the responsibility for performing ALL of the operations connected with launching any and all lifesaving equipment on the vessel.

While it’s possible to enter into this career field fresh from high school, those that want to become a part of this career should anticipate and expect a long training program ahead of them.

These experts need to be proficient with all of the lifesaving equipment they’ll be charged with using in the event of an emergency. They’ll also have to have some medical training, will need to be physically fit, and must meet a number of other organization to organization specific qualifications, too.

14. Marine Service Manager


Median Salary – $76,000

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 4%

Marine service managers are more often than not responsible for overseeing all of the work done to maintain, repair, and upgrade marine vessels they are in charge of.

These are the experts that physically inspect vessels when it is in port (as well as while undergoing operations on the sea). These managers usually have small teams of marine service technicians that they are in charge of as well, and almost always communicate directly with ship captains, owners, and operators to make sure that all repairs and upgrades are facilitated as needed.

15. Ship Superintendent

Median Salary – $78,000

Education – Bachelor’s Degree

Projected Growth – 6%

Ship superintendents usually begin their careers first pursuing a degree in marine administration or marine operations management (or a similar field).

From there, these professionals pursue careers that put them in charge of coordinating operations across a shipyard.

Ship superintendents work to make sure that their operations and maintenance schedules for the vessels they are in charge of our running correctly. They schedule different work projects, coordinate with other managers and engineers, and often act as a direct liaison between shipowners and charter organizers as well.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, there are a tremendous amount of opportunities out there for those looking to get into the top 15 best paying jobs in marine transportation today.

A lot of these jobs pay very well, with a lot of opportunity to make six figures a year (and sometimes quite a bit more than that). Interestingly enough, not all of these high-paying and high responsibility careers in marine transportation require a college education – meaning anyone and everyone can get their foot in the door and build an exciting career in this industry.

At the end of the day, as long as people and goods need to be transported on the oceans of our planet there are always going to be jobs and careers to be had in marine transportation.

That’s not changing anytime soon. In fact, it looks like these careers are really booming right now and should continue to grow year after year for the foreseeable future.


How much money can be made in marine transportation?

The overwhelming majority of careers in marine transportation – especially the top 15 we highlighted above – have lots of opportunity for making six figures or more a year. Port engineers, for example, can make $500,000 a year (or more).

What’s the major appeal for these careers?

While the pay in this field is fantastic (and the opportunities almost unlimited), a lot of people love to jump headfirst into the marine transportation industry because of the unique opportunity to spend time out on the water and in ports around the world – all while getting paid to do so.

This is anything but your average 9-to-5 office grind, that’s for sure.

What skills do I need to succeed in marine transportation?

For starters, you’ll need a rock solid work ethic and a real passion for working and living out on the water.

Secondly, you’ll need to be physically fit or prepared to get in shape in a hurry. A lot of these jobs are tough, demanding, and cold – and they are made even more challenging when you’re having a tough time keeping up physically.

Finally, these projects demand everyone at every level to have at least a baseline of problem-solving capabilities. There is the potential for something to go sideways every single minute of every maritime transportation job, and quick thinkers are going to see their career prospects really booming.

Josh Hutcheson

E-Learning Specialist in Online Programs & Courses Linkedin

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