Earnings vary widely depending on the particular water transportation position and experience, ranging from the minimum wage in some beginning seaman or mate positions to more than $100,000.00 a year for some experienced captains and ship engineers. In general, annual wages within the water transportation industry are generally greater than in comparable shore side positions even while only working six to eight months a year.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The passenger, a high-ranking Canadian civil servant, joined me on the darkening bridge, his third or fourth glass of pinot noir swirling in his hand. "You sailors don't make the same kind of salary as you might on land," he said. "I guess that's the price you pay for working at such a romantic occupation." This was, without a doubt, the most subtle way anyone had ever asked me how much money I make. I didn't answer, of course: I was raised to believe that even asking that question was rude. Instead I said that most mariners probably consider the long weeks away from home and family a greater price than any perceived shortcomings of their paycheck. People are curious, though: how much money do mariners make?
The short answer is, it varies a lot. As James Laurence Pelletier writes in his Mariner's Employment Guide:
My first job, as a steward on a small cruise ship, paid $35 a day, plus tips which typically earned me an additional $200 to $300 a week. This was on a US-flagged vessel: at the same time, a steward or waiter on a large "flag of convenience" cruise ship was making $300-$500 a month plus tips. This kind of disparity increases as you rise through the ranks: the captain of that small cruise ship, with fewer than 100 pasengers, earns twice what some captains of many full-sized cruise ships with hundred of passengers make.
For all that, the small cruise ships are the service sector of the maritime industry and, like the land-side service sector, pay is relatively low: ordinary seamen (starting deckhands) still only earn $500 to $700 a month, engineers up to $5,000/month, while captains will earn upwards of $350 per day. The Chief Steward, sometimes called the Hotel Manager in this industry, can expect to earn $25,000 - $45,000/year. All these figures are based on work year of 180 to 245 days.
Yachts. Crew on private yachts make out a little better than their colleagues in the small passenger industry. A deckhand on a large yacht can expect to start in the $2,000/month range, the chief steward $3,000, the chief engineer $4,000 - $7,000, and the captain $7,000 - $11,000. These figures are based on a 100-ft yacht with a crew that works at least nine months a year. Captains on "superyachts" (180 feet or more) can earn $20,000/month or more.
Tips. Yacht crews also earn tip income from charters equal to 15- to 20-percent of the cost of the charter. For comparison, a 150-ft. yacht charters for $150,000 to $200,000/week, and carries a crew of 10 to 12, so an average gratuity for that week would be $3000 - $4000 per crew member. Crews on small cruise ships may earn from zerono to several hundred dollars a week, depending on the cruise line's policy.
Work boats. An ordinary seaman can expect to start as low as $90/day, possibly even a bit less on some inland barges, tugs, and towboats, and work their way up to $275/day or more as captain. A licensed engineer on a similar vessel may make nearly as much as the captain. Most such vessels will not have a steward's department, but may have a designated cook who earns $22,000 to $35,000 annually. Typical "hitches" for such crew range from day work only to a couple of week on followed by one to two weeks off.
Off-shore supply vessels. Pay tends to be a little better here than closer to shore, with OS pay starting up to $180/day, $400/day for chief engineers, and about the same for captains. Captains on seismic vessels with dynamic positioning certification and other specialized skills can earn up to $1,000/day. These crews tend to work a 4-week-on/2-week- or 4-week-off schedule, although some will work 6-and-6.
Deep sea vessels. An OS sailing full time may earn a base pay of less than $20,000, but it's more typical -- with overtime -- to earn in the low $30,000 range. It's not unheard of for OSs
to earn as much as $45,000/year. The pay range is about the same for a chief steward on a deep sea vessel. The captain on such a vessel will typically earn at least $400/day, same for the chief engineer. Such crews will generally take a day off at the end of a hitch for day every worked; this is sometimes required by maritime union rules.
Military vessels. President Obama approved a 3.4-percent pay raise for US Navy and Coast Guard mariners last December. Deckhands with less than two years experience start as low as $1447/month, but a Navy Captain (rank O-6) with more than six years of service earns just over $6800.
Posted by Rob Earle at 12:01 AM