What Do Ship Pilots Do (including Their Typical Day At Work)

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Job Description, Daily Responsibilities, and Work Life.

Job Description

Ship Pilots command ships to steer them into and out of harbors, estuaries, straits, or sounds, or on rivers, lakes, or bays. Must be licensed by U.S. Coast Guard with limitations indicating class and tonnage of vessels for which license is valid and route and waters that may be piloted. They also direct courses and speeds of ships, based on specialized knowledge of local winds, weather, water depths, tides, currents, and hazards.

Other tasks include:

  • Steer ships into or out of berths, or signal tugboat captains to berth or unberth ships.
  • Set ships’ courses to avoid reefs, outlying shoals, or other hazards, using navigational aids, such as lighthouses or buoys.
  • Prevent ships under navigational control from engaging in unsafe operations.
  • Serve as a vessel’s docking master upon arrival at a port or at a berth.
  • Consult maps, charts, weather reports, or navigation equipment to determine and direct ship movements.
  • Give directions to crew members steering ships.

We asked Ship Pilots how satisfied they are with their job. Here is what they said.

Job satisfaction

61%

How meaningful is this job

47%


61% of them said they were satisfied with their job and 47% said they find that their job makes the world a better place or helps to make someone else’s life better.



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Typical Day At Work

On a daily basis, Ship Pilots direct courses and speeds of ships, based on specialized knowledge of local winds, weather, water depths, tides, currents, and hazards. They operate ship-to-shore radios to exchange information needed for ship operations.

A typical day for a Ship Pilot will also include:

  • Set ships’ courses to avoid reefs, outlying shoals, or other hazards, using navigational aids, such as lighthouses or buoys.
  • Prevent ships under navigational control from engaging in unsafe operations.
  • Maintain ship logs.
  • Consult maps, charts, weather reports, or navigation equipment to determine and direct ship movements.
  • Give directions to crew members steering ships.

We asked some Ship Pilots a few questions to find out what else does their work day look like. Here is what we found.

Do you have telephone conversations everyday in this job?82% said yes
How important is it to work in a team in this job?77% said very important
Do you have group discussions everyday in this job?84% said yes
Do you talk or work with customers everyday in this job?21% said yes
Do you have to deal with angry customers everyday in this job?4% said yes
Do you have to make decisions everyday in this job?95% said yes

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Ship Pilots also provide assistance to vessels approaching or leaving seacoasts, navigating harbors, or docking and undocking. They may also oversee cargo storage on or below decks.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Ship Pilots Maintain or repair boats or equipment. They might also Serve as a vessel’s docking master upon arrival at a port or at a berth.

In addition, they Advise ships’ masters on harbor rules and customs procedures.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them Steer ships into or out of berths, or signal tugboat captains to berth or unberth ships.

To some Ship Pilots, it is also their responsibility to Relieve crew members on tugs or launches.


Working life

Working hours

More than 40 hours per week

Working schedule

Irregular work schedule that changes depending on weather conditions, customer demand or contract duration.

In a typical work week as a Ship Pilot, you can expect to work more than 40 hours per week.

Do Ship Pilots work in an office-style work environment?

Never
44%


Every day
36%


Do Ship Pilots work outdoors?

Every day
72%


Once a week
15%



Is this right for me

Best personality for this career

The Builders and The Thinkers

People who are suitable for this job tends to like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery..

They also like working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

You can read more about these career personality types here.




Learn more about Ship Pilots

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Related to Ship Pilots Job Description

Ship Pilots job description, what do Ship Pilots do, typical day for Ship Pilots, what is it like to work as a Ship Pilot, how many hours do Ship Pilots work, day to day work of a Ship Pilot

Additional resources

http://www.bls.gov/OOH/transportation-and-material-moving/water-transportation-occupations.htm
http://www.marad.dot.gov/
http://www.uscg.mil/
http://www.americanwaterways.com/


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