How to Become a Boatswain

Written by

Beatrice Harrison


August 14, 2014


Ships are very complex vessels and a variety of workers are required for the necessary operation and maintenance. Boatswains are members of ships that supervise a variety of members on the deck department of ships.

What does a boatswain do?

Boatswains typically work on the deck department of ships and are responsible for supervising unlicensed deck crewmembers. They plan, schedule, and assign tasks and ensure they are completed correctly. They make sure the completed tasks comply with the approved operating procedures. Boatswains also regularly check the vessel and carry out many different routine duties to ensure all areas of the ship are maintained. They perform painting and cleaning duties and maintain the equipment, superstructure, and hull of the vessel. Boatswains are also responsible for deck maintenance, winch operations, cargo rigging, and other tasks related to deck operations. They have solid knowledge and the ability to use a variety of knots, bends, hitches, splices, and whipping as needed to carry out many different tasks. Some boatswains are also responsible for leading emergency procedures when dangerous situations occur aboard the ship.

What kind of training does a boatswain need?

Boatswains typically need at least a high school diploma, but most employers prefer applicants with formal training. Many training programs take approximately one year to complete. Many boatswains complete training through the Merchant Marines. Boatswains must learn all the necessary duties on many different types of ships. Many boatswains start out in lower level positions to gain practical experience. Many also complete advanced training after completing their boatswain training to remain competitive in the field. Boatswains typically continue their professional development through continuing education to keep their skills up to date and stay abreast with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a boatswain?

Employment of boatswains is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 15% through 2018. The growing population and increase in tourism will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good especially for boatswains with extensive experience. Some job openings will stem from the need to replace boatswains that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do boatswains make?

As of this year, the average annual salary for boatswains is $50,000; average annual boatswain salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits.

A career as a boatswain is an excellent choice for people with a strong interest in all the tasks required to maintain a variety of ships. Boatswains must have a solid understanding of the operations of many different types of ships. Patience, detail orientation, physical fitness, and great eyesight and hearing are necessary characteristics. Boatswains must be able to perform a variety of different tasks and the ability to work effectively as part of a team. They must also have good communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to motivate and lead others.

Becoming a Boatswain Requires Skills & Training, Start Today

Are you serious about becoming a Boatswain? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the College Mouse Degree Search tool to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  Beatrice Harrison

Educated at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Beatrice Harrison has extensive professional experience in career counseling, having helped a growing number of job seekers find fulfilling and meaningful careers in a variety of fields and disciplines.

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