What does a Captain do?

A captain is the leader of an entire vessel ranging from a small yacht to a cruise liner. They have vast experience with operating ships having likely worked their way through the ranks of ship-related positions. They are proficient in every aspect of running a ship from its operation to its maintenance and if they work on a touring ship including a cruise liner they play host to passengers.

A captain ensures equipment receives proper maintenance and that the vessel follows environmental regulations. They keep regular logs throughout the journey and supervise passengers and crew members, embarking and disembarking from the ship. If traveling to international waters, a captain must meet local and international customs and inspections’ requirements. They are also responsible for security aboard the ship in terms of basic operations and under extreme circumstances, including a response to threats from terrorists, pirates, hijackers, and stowaways. Captains need a master's degree in marine engineering or marine science, preferably from a maritime academy or college.

Education--
Work/Life Balance
3.2 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.7 ★
Avg. Experience2-4 years

Captain Salaries

Average Base Pay

$112,601 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
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$64K
Median: $113K
$198K
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Glassdoor Estimated Salary

Captain Career Path

Learn how to become a Captain, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

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Captain Insights

Read what Captain professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Star LineStar Line
Boat Captain
Aug. 17, 2021

“The pay is really good and somehow compensates for the seasonal nature of the job.”

U.S. Army ReserveU.S. Army Reserve
Prior Enlisted Captain
Oct. 12, 2019

“My personal and favorite element of military service is putting our Nation before petty politics.”

Delta Private JetsDelta Private Jets
Line Captain
Jul. 16, 2021

“Fun Place to work and the people are very nice and helpful.”

Southern Airways ExpressSouthern Airways Express
Captain
Jul. 14, 2019

“Individuals I worked with where really good people and enjoyed there efforts.”

RAMCO ProtectiveRAMCO Protective
Captain
Sep. 4, 2019

“Full time work and steady schedule which is great for the security industry.”

US NavyUS Navy
O6 - Navy - Captain
Oct. 22, 2019

“Professionally rewarding and challenging positions through entire career.”

Wheels UpWheels Up
Captain
Jun. 27, 2021

“Good people and clientele.”

Dave & Buster'sDave & Buster's
Captain
Jun. 5, 2019

“pay was very good it was good”

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Captain Interviews

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