Is Deckhand a Good Career Choice? Here’s What You Need to Know

Deckhand is one of the most rewarding jobs in the maritime industry. A deckhand is responsible for all the tasks related to the ship’s maintenance, safety, and cleanliness. For those who love the ocean and have a passion for adventure, being a deckhand can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of their life. It is a dynamic role where you get to interact with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, work in challenging environments, and travel the world.

But the question remains: is deckhand a good career choice? Deckhand may not come across as a conventional career path, but it is an excellent choice for people who want to break free from the monotony of a desk job and pursue something exciting and challenging. Deckhand demands a certain level of physical fitness, mental alertness, and team spirit. However, the rewards for those who are serious about their job are plentiful, both in terms of financial benefits and personal satisfaction.

In this article, I am going to explore the world of deckhands and explain why it is a good career choice. We’ll look at the skills and qualities that are required to excel as a deckhand, the opportunities for growth and advancement, and the lifestyle that comes with it. For those who are looking for an adventure-filled career that takes them to places they never imagined, look no further. Deckhand may be the right fit for you.

Skills needed for a deckhand career

Being a deckhand is not an easy job, but it can be a fulfilling career choice for those who possess a unique set of skills. Deckhands perform various tasks on board a vessel, including cleaning and maintenance, navigating the ship, and helping with cargo operations. Let’s take a closer look at the essential skills needed for a deckhand career.

  • Physical Strength and Endurance: Deckhands must have good physical strength and endurance to climb ladders, lift heavy objects, and perform physically demanding tasks for extended periods.
  • Attention to Detail: A deckhand must have an eye for detail to ensure that all equipment and vessels are clean and in working order.
  • Teamwork: A deckhand must work well with others, as they are part of a team that works together to ensure the smooth functioning of the ship.
  • Basic Technical Knowledge: A deckhand must have a basic understanding of mechanics, navigation, and communication equipment on board a ship.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is crucial on board a ship, and a deckhand must be able to communicate effectively with the captain, crew, and other workers.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: A deckhand must be able to identify and solve problems as they arise, often in unexpected situations.

If you’re considering a career as a deckhand, it’s crucial to work on honing these skills. You can even gain relevant experience by working on smaller vessels, such as fishing boats or supply ships, before moving up to larger ships or more advanced positions.

Pros and cons of being a deckhand

If you love the sea and enjoy the idea of being out on the open ocean for extended periods of time, then a career as a deckhand may very well be a great option for you. However, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons of such a career choice before making a final decision.

  • Pros:

    • Travel: Once you become a deckhand, you will have the opportunity to travel around different parts of the world. You will experience different cultures, food, and scenery.
    • Physical work: Being a deckhand is a physically demanding job. It involves lifting heavy objects, strenuous labor, and plenty of exercise. For many people, this is a great way to stay active and fit.
    • Good pay: Starting salaries for deckhands tend to be higher than those of many other entry-level jobs. For instance, in the United States, the average annual salary for a deckhand ranges from $30,000 to $50,000.
    • Job security: The demand for deckhands never seems to decrease. There are always shipping companies looking for experienced and reliable deckhands to join their team.
  • Cons:

    • Long hours: Being a deckhand can mean working long hours and being away from home for extended periods of time. This can be difficult for some people who value their home-life and routines.
    • Harsh weather conditions: Depending on where you are working, there can be harsh weather conditions to deal with. This can include extreme heat, cold, and storms.
    • Safety concerns: Being a deckhand is a risky job. You need to be able to work in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment while also prioritizing your safety and the safety of others.
    • Limited personal space: As a deckhand, you will be sharing small living quarters with your co-workers. This can be challenging if you value your personal space or have trouble getting along with others.

In summary, being a deckhand is a career that can offer many rewards. However, it’s important to fully examine the pros and cons before making a decision. This is a job that offers adventure, but also comes with some risks and challenges.

If you’re okay with the long hours, physical demands, and potential hazards, then being a deckhand can be an incredibly fulfilling career.

Pros Cons
Travel Long hours
Good pay Harsh weather conditions
Job security Safety concerns
Physical work Limited personal space

Ultimately, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of this career choice and decide if being a deckhand is the right choice for you.

Job responsibilities of a deckhand

Deckhands may find themselves working on a variety of vessels, from cargo ships to luxury yachts. The role of a deckhand can involve anything from maintaining the ship’s appearance to performing safety drills.

  • General maintenance: Deckhands are responsible for performing both routine and emergency maintenance tasks on the ship. This includes painting, cleaning, and repairing equipment
  • Navigation: Deckhands assist the captain in navigating the ship, operating the ship’s communication systems, charting courses, and maintaining logs of the ship’s movements and activities
  • Cargo handling: For cargo ships, deckhands are responsible for loading and unloading cargo, as well as securing it to prevent damage during transport.

On the job, deckhands work in all types of weather conditions, often enduring long hours and physical labor. Although the job can be physically demanding, deckhands typically work as part of a close-knit team and have opportunities for advancement within the maritime industry.

For a more detailed summary of a deckhand’s job responsibilities, refer to the following table:

Responsibility Description
General maintenance Perform routine and emergency maintenance tasks, including painting, cleaning, and equipment repair
Navigation Assist the captain in navigating the ship, operating communication systems, charting courses, and maintaining logs
Cargo handling Load and unload cargo, secure cargo for transport, and ensure proper documentation for customs and other regulations
Safety Assist with safety drills, maintain safety equipment, and respond to emergency situations
Deck operations Operate winches, cranes, and other equipment to handle cargo and equipment on the ship’s deck

Overall, a career as a deckhand can offer a unique work experience and opportunities for growth in the maritime industry. With a range of responsibilities and potential for advancement, it can be an excellent choice for those interested in working on the water.

Types of boats that employ deckhands

If you are interested in becoming a deckhand, it is important to know the different types of boats that hire deckhands. In general, deckhands work on boats that are used for commercial or recreational purposes. Here are some of the most common types of boats that employ deckhands:

  • Commercial Fishing Boats: These boats are used for catching fish and other seafood. Deckhands on these boats are responsible for tasks such as setting and hauling nets, baiting hooks, and cleaning and icing the catch. They may also help with general maintenance and repair tasks on the boat.
  • Cruise Ships: Cruise ships are designed for pleasure and leisure. Deckhands on these ships are responsible for tasks such as cleaning and maintaining the ship’s exterior, general upkeep of the ship, and ensuring safety on deck. They may also help with passenger services such as carrying luggage or assisting with onboard activities.
  • Tugboats: Tugboats are used to tow other vessels, such as barges or other ships. Deckhands on tugboats are responsible for assisting with navigation, monitoring cargo, and carrying out tasks related to towing and mooring. They may also be responsible for general maintenance of the boat.
  • Offshore Supply Vessels: These boats are used to transport supplies, equipment and personnel to offshore oil and gas platforms. Deckhands on these boats may be responsible for tasks such as loading and unloading cargo, assisting with the maintenance of the vessel, and general housekeeping duties.

As you can see, there are a variety of boats that employ deckhands. Whether you are looking for a career in the fishing industry, or you are interested in working on a cruise ship or offshore vessel, there are many opportunities available. It’s important to research the different types of boats and job duties to find the best fit for you.

Salary expectations for deckhands

When considering a career as a deckhand, it’s important to understand the potential earning potential in order to make an informed decision. While salaries can vary depending on several factors such as experience, location, and employer, we can give a general overview of what you can expect to earn as a deckhand.

  • Entry-Level Deckhand: Entry-level deckhands can expect to earn an average of $25,000 to $30,000 per year. While this may not seem like a lot, it’s important to keep in mind that opportunities for advancement and increased pay are possible with hard work and dedication.
  • Intermediate Deckhand: After gaining a few years of experience, deckhands can expect to earn between $30,000 and $50,000 per year. Again, this can vary depending on factors such as location and employer, but the potential for increased pay is possible with continued dedication to the job.
  • Senior Deckhand: Highly experienced deckhands can earn upwards of $60,000 per year. This is generally achieved after many years in the industry, and often includes additional responsibilities and leadership roles on the vessel.

It’s important to note that many deckhands earn additional income through overtime and tips, which can significantly increase their annual earnings. Additionally, some employers offer benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans, which can add value to the overall compensation package.

If you’re considering a career as a deckhand, it’s important to do your research and understand the earning potential for the industry. While the entry-level salary may not be high, the potential for growth and increased pay can make this a rewarding and lucrative career choice over time.

Salary Range Experience Level
$25,000 to $30,000 Entry-Level Deckhand
$30,000 to $50,000 Intermediate Deckhand
$60,000+ Senior Deckhand

Overall, with dedication and hard work, a career as a deckhand can offer a competitive salary and opportunities for advancement within the industry.

Advancement Opportunities for Deckhands

Deckhands are critical members of a ship’s crew, responsible for maintaining and operating vessels, carrying out daily tasks, and ensuring safety at sea. While being a deckhand may seem like an entry-level or lower-level position, there are numerous advancement opportunities available for those who are willing to put in the hard work, dedication, and training. Here are some advancement opportunities for deckhands:

  • Become a Bosun – The bosun is in charge of managing and supervising the deckhands, assigning tasks, and ensuring that all the ship’s equipment is in sound working condition. This position requires significant experience and demonstrated leadership skills.
  • Become a Captain – A deckhand who has put in the effort to earn the necessary certifications, licenses, and experience can become a captain of a ship or boat. Captains are responsible for navigation, steering, setting courses, and ensuring the safety of the vessel and its passengers. This is a coveted position that requires extensive knowledge of maritime laws, regulations, and safety procedures.
  • Specialize – Deckhands can gain specialized skills and become experts in a particular field, such as navigation, engineering, or marine ecology. Specialization can lead to higher pay, promotions, and more interesting work opportunities.

Deckhands can also advance their careers by taking additional courses and training in areas such as safety, navigational skills, and ship management. They can also gain experience in different types of ships, such as cargo ships, cruise ships, or research vessels. Employers often prefer deckhands who have a diverse set of skills and experience.

Skills for Advancement

Besides hard work and significant experience, to advance in their careers, deckhands must possess additional skills, including:

  • Excellent communication and leadership skills
  • Ability to work under pressure and in harsh conditions
  • Ability to problem-solve and think critically
  • Ability to follow rules, regulations, and safety guidelines
  • Physical fitness and strength are also essential


Deckhand career offers numerous advancement opportunities for those who are willing to work hard, develop their skills and persevere. Becoming a bosun, captain, specialist in a specific field, or gaining additional experience and education can lead to higher wages, status, and responsibility. Deckhands who wish to advance can do so by improving their expertise, leadership, and communication skills, and continuously learning and updating their knowledge in everything maritime.

Training and Education Requirements for Deckhands

Deckhands are an essential part of the maritime industry. They work on a wide range of vessels, including cruise ships, cargo ships, and commercial fishing boats. The role of a deckhand can vary, but generally, they are responsible for the maintenance and safe operation of the vessel. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a deckhand, there are specific training and education requirements that you must meet.

  • Minimum Age Requirement: The minimum age requirement to become a deckhand is 18 years old.
  • Education: Although having a high school diploma or GED is not required to become a deckhand, it is highly recommended. Many employers prefer to hire candidates who have at least completed their secondary education.
  • Certifications: Most employers require deckhands to hold a valid Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). Additionally, deckhands must also have a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). There are different types of MMCs, depending on the type and size of the vessel.

Beyond the above requirements, there are also schools and training programs available for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a deckhand. These programs can provide hands-on training and certification in areas such as boating safety, knot-tying, basic seamanship, first aid, and more. Some of the well-known schools that provide deckhand training include the Seafarers Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship and the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies.

In addition to formal education and training, working as a deckhand requires physical fitness, resilience, and the ability to work in a team environment. Long hours and challenging weather conditions are part of the job, and deckhands must be prepared to work in all types of situations.

Requirements Description
Age Minimum age requirement to become a deckhand is 18 years old.
Education Although not required, having a high school diploma or GED is highly recommended by most employers.
Certifications Deckhands must hold a valid TWIC and MMC.

In conclusion, becoming a deckhand requires meeting specific education and training requirements, including a minimum age requirement, certifications, and physical fitness. Pursuing a career as a deckhand can be a great choice for those who enjoy working on the water and are willing to work in adverse conditions.

Is deckhand a good career choice?

1. What does a deckhand do?

A deckhand is responsible for a number of tasks on a ship, including maintenance of the vessel, navigation, and handling cargo.

2. What qualifications are needed to become a deckhand?

There are no formal qualifications required to become a deckhand, although experience working on boats and a good understanding of navigation and seamanship is beneficial.

3. What kind of salary can a deckhand expect to earn?

The salary for a deckhand varies depending on location and experience, but can range from $25,000 to $50,000 per year.

4. Are there any risks associated with working as a deckhand?

Working on a ship can be dangerous, and deckhands need to be careful when working with heavy equipment and navigating rough waters. There is also a risk of accidents or injuries at sea.

5. What are the opportunities for advancement in a career as a deckhand?

A career as a deckhand can lead to opportunities to become a first mate or captain, or to work in other roles within the maritime industry.

6. Is a career as a deckhand suitable for people with families?

Working as a deckhand can involve long periods away from home, which can make it difficult for people with families. However, many deckhands work on a schedule that allows for regular time off.

7. What are some of the benefits of working as a deckhand?

Working as a deckhand can be a great opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures. It can also be a rewarding and challenging career that offers opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Is deckhand a good career choice?

Overall, working as a deckhand can be a fulfilling and exciting career choice for those with an interest in the maritime industry. While there are risks to working at sea, there are also many benefits, including the opportunity to travel and advance within the industry. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a deckhand, it is important to gain experience and develop a good understanding of navigation and seamanship. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon!