what degree do you need to become a Ship Pilot
majors for Ship Pilots

Ship Pilots

Other names for this job might include Area Relief Pilot, Bar Pilot, Barge Pilot, Boat Pilot, Canal Driver, Docking Pilot, Ferry Pilot, Ferryboat Pilot, Harbor Pilot, Marine Pilot

  • $83150
  • 61%
    Job satisfaction
  • Medium
    Becoming one
  • Medium
    Job growth
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Be A Ship Pilot: What You Really Need

In this requirements guide for Ship Pilots, you will find out what do you need to become a Ship Pilot and what it takes to become one.

After reading this, you will be able to plan for your future if you want to be a Ship Pilot.

Degree required

Recommended degree level

High School Diploma

High School Diploma

Associates degree


Bachelors degree

First professional degree

Generally, employers are looking for Ship Pilots who have a High School Diploma. They also prefer someone who is good in Operation and Control and Operation Monitoring.

1 common question that we always get is what major or degree do I need to become A Ship Pilot or what courses do I need to take.

We did a survey to ask other Ship Pilots what did they major in college or university and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Commercial Fishing
Marine Science/Merchant Marine Officer

Most ship pilots have 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. Graduates of these programs can also choose to receive a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Merchant Marine Reserve, or U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.


schools for Ship Pilots

Interested in becoming A Ship Pilot? Find the right schools that can help you to become one. You will need some of your details to get you matched with the right college or university. This service is free thanks to our sponsors.

Questions to ask the university or college:

  1. How many students are in the program?
  2. Is your program accredited?
  3. How many faculty members do you have? Do they hold the right credentials?
  4. What is your job placement rate?
  5. Does your school hold career fairs or other on-campus events with employers? How many employers typically attend?
  6. How many of your students have at least one internship by graduation?
Click to start becoming a Ship Pilot

How long does it take


You may need some previous work-related skill, knowledge or experience to be A Ship Pilot.

For example: An electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.

To become A Ship Pilot, you will usually need 1 to 2 years of training which includes both on-the-job experience and training with experienced workers.

How long does it take
Over 4 to 6 years

Work experience
2 to 4 years
4 to 6 years

No experience

Over 10 years

1 to 2 years

6 to 8 years

Job training
Over 2 years
2 to 4 years

4 to 10 years

0 to 1 month

1 to 2 years

No training

Most Ship Pilots have 2 to 4 years work experience and Over 2 years job training.

To increase your chances of getting a job, you can look for job training while studying to be one.

License and certifications

Do you need any license or certification
Requirements vary by state

All ship pilots working on ships with U.S. flags must have a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) from the Transportation Security Administration. Most ship pilots must also have a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC). They can apply for an MMC at a U.S. Coast Guard regional examination center. Ship pilots are licensed by the state in which they work. The U.S. Coast Guard licenses pilots on the Great Lakes. The requirements for these licenses vary, depending on where a pilot works.

Skills required

We asked other Ship Pilots if they could only have 5 skills, what would they be. Here is what they said.

1. Operation and Control what does this mean
2.Operation Monitoring what does this mean
3.Critical Thinking what does this mean
4.Monitoring what does this mean
5.Active Listening what does this mean
= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

We did some research and found that most successful Ship Pilots have these 5 common characteristics. Most of them had Leadership and Stress Tolerance.

2.Stress Tolerance
4.Self Control

Knowledge required

Just like any other job, you will need some know-hows to do the job. To become a successful Ship Pilots you need to acquire knowledge in these 5 key areas.

1. Transportation what does this mean
2.Geography what does this mean
3.Public Safety and Security what does this mean
4.Administration and Management what does this mean
5.Mechanical what does this mean

As A Ship Pilot, you may also be required to know how to use certain Route navigation software, Data base user interface and query software and Route navigation software tools.

Jeppesen Marine Nobeltec Admiral (Route navigation software)
Log book software (Data base user interface and query software)
Maptech The CAPN (Route navigation software)
Navigational chart software (Route navigation software)
= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

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Career type

Transportation Transportation Operations

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Additional resources

http://www.americanwaterways.com/ [schema type=”review” url=”https://www.owlguru.com/” name=”OwlGuru.com” description=”OwlGuru.com is a career and college finder site. We help students to find a career and college that is right for them.” rev_name=”Ship Pilots” rev_body=”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.” author=”Stanley Tan” user_review=”3.8″ min_review=”1″ max_review=”5″ ]