What does a Water Transportation Worker do?
Water transportation workers maintain and operate vessels that take passengers or cargo over water. These vessels travel to and from domestic ports along the coasts, the country’s inland waterways, across the Great Lakes, and foreign ports across the ocean. They also work in all types of weather conditions and for long hours.
How to Become a Water Transportation Worker
Some pilots, deck officers, and engineers hold a bachelor’s degree from a merchant marine academy. The academy programs offer a bachelor’s degree and a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC) with an endorsement as a third mate or third assistant engineer. Those graduating these programs can choose to receive a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve, U.S.Coast Guard, or Merchant Marine Reserve.
Non-officers do not normally require a degree, such as marine oilers or sailors and receive on-the-job training for 6 months to a year, depending on the size and type of ship they work on. All mariners working on ships with U.S. Flags require a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) from the Transportation Security Administration that ensures the employee is a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident and has passed security screening. This TWIC is renewed every 5 years.
Mariners working on ships traveling on the open ocean require the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watch Keeping (STWC) endorsement that must be renewed every 5 years. Mariners who work on inland waterways and the Great Lakes do not require the STWC endorsement. Most Mariners need to have a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC). Entry-level employees do not have to pass a written exam. However, some must pass physical, vision, and hearing tests and all must pass a drug screening test to get their MMC. MMC is renewed every 5 years.
Job Description of Water Transportation Worker
The duties of a water transportation worker vary according to the size and type of ship or vessel they work on. However, they typically maintain and operate non-military vessels, such as large deep-sea container ships, bulk carriers, large and small tankers, supply ships, tug boats, salvage vessels, cruise ships, or deep-sea merchant marine ships or various others. They follow their vessels strict chain of command and ensure the safety of the cargo and people on board.
Captains and mates would also supervise other workers, prepare a maintenance and repair budget and various other duties. Pilots guide ships in harbors, confined waterways, and rivers. Sailors or deckhands operate and maintain the vessel and deck equipment among other duties. Ship engineers operate and maintain a vessels’ propulsion system.
Larger vessels typically carry a chief engineer who has command of the engine room and it’s crew, as well as a first, second, and third assistant engineer. Marine Oilers work in the engine room, assisting the engineers to keep the propulsion system in working order. Motorboat operators run small, motor-driven boats that carry only a few passengers and provide a variety of services, like fishing charters or tours.