Marine deck (officer) jobs

In the maritime industry, the deck department is regarded as the backbone of maritime operations, taking responsibility for the safety and efficiency aboard vessels of all kinds. From entry-level positions like Ordinary Seaman to the Captain, holding the highest rank, each role plays an important part in ensuring a smooth operation at sea. Discover how you get started in the deck department and find out what the different responsibilities and salary ranges are for each role.

Marine deck officer jobs

What is the responsibility of seafarers working in marine deck jobs?

The deck department is primarily responsible for the safety on board. Tasks include the operation, navigation and maintenance of ships and vessels. However, it is good to know that duties depend on the type of vessel you are working on.

Maritime Safety Jobs

Checklist to start with an entry-level position in the deck department

Starting your career in the maritime industry often starts with getting an entry-level position in the deck department. As an Ordinary Seaman (OS) you have an important role in supporting the operation of the vessel. Want to start as an OS? Make sure to check all the boxes of this checklist:

Depending on the area, vessel or employer, you might also need:

If you want to learn all about how to become an OS, make sure to read our blog post: Ordinary Seaman: Complete Guide to Becoming an OS.

Marine deck officer jobs

Advise how to grow your career in the deck department

If you have the ambition to grow your career in the deck department there are different paths you can choose. Alongside the most common route, you can also choose to specialize in certain areas such as navigation, cargo handling or safety management. For these specializations you often need additional education, training or certifications. Below we will walk you through the certifications and skills you need to grow your deck career in the most common way from an OS to a higher rank.

1. Ordinary Seaman

When you check all the boxes of the checklist, you have the basics to become an Ordinary Seaman. When you apply for OS jobs, always check if there are any additional employer requirements you should meet.

2. Able Seaman

Once you gain enough sea experience (typically around 6 to 12 months) as an Ordinary Seaman, you can advance to the role of AB. It might be that an employer requires additional certifications or proficiency assessments before promoting you to AB. This varies per employer.

3. Third Officer

When you are ready to take the next step as Third Officer, you need to hold at least the STCW certification for Officer of the Watch (OOW). It is also typically required to complete a maritime training course or cadetship, including classroom training and onboard experience as a cadet or trainee officer. Sometimes it is also required to have a Bachelor’s degree in Nautical Science or a related field. If you want to know more about the possibilities to get a training course in this, please check out the list of 44 academies and universities who are members of the International Association of Maritime Universities (IAMU).

4. Second Officer

Taking the next step of becoming a Second Officer, it requires to get additional sea service for approximately 12 to 24 months. The length depends on maritime regulations and employer requirements. Sometimes you also need to complete advanced training courses in navigation, safety management and leadership.

5. First Officer

To become a First Officer you need to hold the STCW certification for Chief Mate (Master Near Coastal). Additionally, you need to have significant sea service as a Second Officer with demonstrated skills in navigation, watchkeeping and deck operations. Sometimes, it is also necessary to complete advanced training courses in ship management, emergency response and leadership.

6. Captain/Master

The Captain or Master is the highest rank onboard. To get this position, you need to have an STCW certification for Master (Master Near Coastal), along with extensive experience as a First or Second Officer. You also need to have proven leadership, decision making and management skills, along with comprehensive knowledge of navigation, safety regulations and maritime law.

Responsibilities and salary indication for deck jobs

Responsibilities and salary indication for deck jobs

Now that you know how to get started in the deck department, and you're familiar with the most common way to grow your career in this field, it's time to better understand the responsibilities and salary indications associated with these positions. Please note the salary for each job function depends on various factors, such as the type of vessel, location, and level of experience. Therefore, we provide an indication of salary for each position.

Ordinary Seaman (OS)

The OS assists with deck operations, cargo handling, maintenance tasks, and general duties under the supervision of senior crew members. Additionally, they may perform lookout duties, handle mooring lines, and operate deck machinery.

Typically, the salary ranges from 25,000 USD to 35,000 USD per year

Want to know everything about becoming an OS? Read the ultimate guide blog post.

Able Seaman (AB)

The AB assists with navigation, watchkeeping, and deck operations. Additionally, they handle mooring lines, operate deck machinery, assist with cargo handling, and perform maintenance tasks. They also participate in safety drills and emergency response procedures.

The salary for an AB ranges from 35,000 USD to 50,000 USD per year. The salary can be higher when you have additional certifications and experience.

Want to know everything about becoming an AB? Read the ultimate guide blog post.

Third Officer

The Third Officer is under supervision of senior officers. They assist with navigation, watchkeeping, and deck operations. Additionally, they stand watch, maintain navigational equipment, and assist with safety procedures and emergency responses.

The salary of a Third Officer ranges from 45,000 USD to 65,000 USD per year.

Second Officer

Similar to the Third Officer, the Second Officer assists with navigation, watchkeeping, and deck operations, but with increased responsibilities. Additional duties include supervising deck crew, overseeing cargo handling, maintenance tasks, and navigational planning.

Second Officers can expect to earn between 55,000 USD and 75,000 USD.

Chief Officer (First Mate / First Officer)

When you are the Chief Officer, you are the second-in-command of the vessel, assisting the Captain. You assist with overall deck operations, navigation, and safety procedures. Additionally, you supervise deck crew, oversee watchkeeping duties, and ensure compliance with maritime regulations and safety standards. Finally, you assist with administrative tasks and emergency response.

The salary of a Chief Officer averages between 70,000 USD and 100,000 USD.


As the Captain, you hold the ultimate responsibility for the vessel and the crew. You oversee all aspects of navigation, safety, and operations. You make critical decisions regarding route planning, crew management, and emergency situations. Finally, you ensure compliance with maritime regulations and maintain communication with shore authorities.

The salaries for Captains and Masters are among the highest in the maritime industry. They can earn anywhere from 80,000 USD to 150,000 USD per year, with additional benefits such as bonuses, allowances, and profit-sharing opportunities.

Now that you have a better understanding of the responsibilities and salary indications of the most common positions in the deck department, it’s important to note that there are more roles available in this field. These may include traineeships or more specialized jobs like Deck Cadet, Marine Pilot, Multicat Skipper, Inland Skipper, BOSUN (Boatswain), Deck Engineer, Deck Supervisor, Deck Foreman, VTS Operator, Deckhand, Gangway Operator and Watchman. Although we haven’t provided detailed information about these roles, they also offer opportunities for career growth and specialization in the deck department.

Marine deck (officer) vacancies

In the maritime industry there is a constant demand for skilled deck crew in various specialties. Are you ready to start looking for a deck job? Find the featured jobs below or scroll through all job openings yourself!

Highlighted AB vacancies

Highlighted BOSUN jobs

Highlighted Third Officer vacancies

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Highlighted Second Officer vacancies

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Highlighted First Officer vacancies

Highlighted Chief Officer vacancies

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Highlighted Master vacancies

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