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Career profile Sailor

Also known as Able Bodied Seaman (AB Seaman), Able Bodied Watchman (AB Watchman), Able Seaman, Boat Crew Deck Hand, Bosun, Deck Hand, Deckhand, Deckhand Engineer, Oiler, Tankerman

Sailor

Also known as Able Bodied Seaman (AB Seaman), Able Bodied Watchman (AB Watchman), Able Seaman

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$25,710 - $78,190 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
  • Monitoring
Knowledge Areas
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Transportation
  • Mechanical
Core tasks
  • Tie barges together into tow units for tugboats to handle, inspecting barges periodically during voyages and disconnecting them when destinations are reached.
  • Attach hoses and operate pumps to transfer substances to and from liquid cargo tanks.
  • Handle lines to moor vessels to wharfs, to tie up vessels to other vessels, or to rig towing lines.
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What does a Sailor do?

Sailors stand watch to look for obstructions in path of vessel, measure water depth, turn wheel on bridge, or use emergency equipment as directed by captain, mate, or pilot.

In addition, Sailors

  • break out, rig, overhaul, and store cargo-handling gear, stationary rigging, and running gear,
  • perform a variety of maintenance tasks to preserve the painted surface of the ship and to maintain line and ship equipment,
  • must hold government-issued certification and tankerman certification when working aboard liquid-carrying vessels,
  • includes able seamen and ordinary seamen.

What kind of tasks does a Sailor perform regularly?

Sailors are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Tie barges together into tow units for tugboats to handle, inspecting barges periodically during voyages and disconnecting them when destinations are reached.
  • Attach hoses and operate pumps to transfer substances to and from liquid cargo tanks.
  • Handle lines to moor vessels to wharfs, to tie up vessels to other vessels, or to rig towing lines.
  • Read pressure and temperature gauges or displays and record data in engineering logs.
  • Stand watch in ships' bows or bridge wings to look for obstructions in a ship's path or to locate navigational aids, such as buoys or lighthouses.
  • Maintain government-issued certifications, as required.
  • Examine machinery to verify specified pressures or lubricant flows.
  • Maintain a ship's engines under the direction of the ship's engineering officers.
  • Lubricate machinery, equipment, or engine parts, such as gears, shafts, or bearings.
  • Break out, rig, and stow cargo-handling gear, stationary rigging, or running gear.
  • Lower and man lifeboats when emergencies occur.
  • Sweep, mop, and wash down decks to remove oil, dirt, and debris, using brooms, mops, brushes, and hoses.
  • Splice and repair ropes, wire cables, or cordage, using marlinespikes, wire cutters, twine, and hand tools.
  • Load or unload materials, vehicles, or passengers from vessels.
  • Chip and clean rust spots on decks, superstructures, or sides of ships, using wire brushes and hand or air chipping machines.
  • Operate, maintain, or repair ship equipment, such as winches, cranes, derricks, or weapons system.
  • Provide engineers with assistance in repairing or adjusting machinery.
  • Paint or varnish decks, superstructures, lifeboats, or sides of ships.
  • Give directions to crew members engaged in cleaning wheelhouses or quarterdecks.

The above responsibilities are specific to Sailors. More generally, Sailors are involved in several broader types of activities:

Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

What is a Sailor salary?

The median salary for a Sailor is $44,920, and the average salary is $55,680. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Sailor salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Sailors earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Sailors earn less than $25,710 per year, 25% earn less than $33,100, 75% earn less than $60,300, and 90% earn less than $78,190.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Sailors is expected to change by 10.6%, and there should be roughly 3,500 open positions for Sailors every year.

Median annual salary
$44,920
Typical salary range
$25,710 - $78,190
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
10.6%

What personality traits are common among Sailors?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Sailor are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Sailors typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Sailors typically have strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Sailor tend to value Support, Relationships, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Sailors strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Sailors moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Sailors moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Sailors must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, cooperation, and concern for others.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Sailors, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

What education and training do Sailors need?

Working as a Sailor usually requires a high school diploma.

Sailors need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Sailors

  • 7.2% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 43.7% completed high school or secondary school
  • 24.7% completed some college coursework
  • 6.1% earned a Associate's degree
  • 14.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 3.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Sailors

Sailors may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as public safety and security, transportation, or mechanical knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Sailors might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Transportation
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Sailors

Sailors must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Sailors need abilities such as far vision, control precision, and depth perception in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Sailors, ranked by their relative importance.

Far Vision
The ability to see details at a distance.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Depth Perception
The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.

Critical Skills needed by Sailors

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Sailors frequently use skills like operations monitoring, operation and control, and monitoring to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Sailors, ranked by their relative importance.

Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Repairing
Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.