Water Transportation


You’re familiar with planes, trains and automobiles as a source of transportation. Well, don’t leave out our friends in the water. Water Transportation employees work on anything from a cruise ship to a tugboat, hauling around people and products on the water. Wherever there’s water, there’s Water Transportation – from oceans to rivers and bays. There’s lots of different work in Water Transportation – think of all the different crew members on the U.S.S. Enterprise from Star Trek, drop them out of outer space and into a nice lake or something and you get the idea. For entry-level positions no education is required, but for anything beyond that you’ll need a bachelor’s degree from a maritime academy or a whole bunch of years of experience.

Is This Major Right for You?

Do You Like These Things?

It’s pretty important to like – or at least not hate – water, since you’ll pretty much live in it. One of the biggest reasons for turnover in this field is the amount of time most Water Transportation workers spend out at sea – a few months living in the same small room surrounded by all the same faces can get tiring. But for those who loved the close spaces and cooped up feeling of dorm room living, this is no problem.

Do You Have These Skills?

In addition to the individual tasks they complete, Water Transportation workers are kind of super amazing – they can keep their balance in rough waters, they can keep their cool in a storm. Things get busiest in the worst of conditions, and workers of the sea are ready to handle whatever comes their way.

Who Shouldn't Pick This Major

If you get a job on a ferry, you’ll be home every night. Otherwise, you may be looking at a job that keeps you away for months at a time. If claustrophobia or homesickness are serious issues for you, seriously consider something else.

Is This What You Want After Graduation?

What You'll Learn

What you’ll learn depends entirely on what you want to do and where you want to do it. The engineers or those who work on running and repairing the vessel learn about machinery and applied sciences. Those up top, like the captain or mates, learn navigation. Experience on the specific area traveled trumps book knowledge, but there’s plenty of need for both.

Jobs You Might Get

Some Water Transportation workers are captains – the head honcho who traditionally takes the wheel during ceremonious or high drama moments. But there are also pilots who take the wheel during specific, tricky periods, like while a ship is passing through a narrow strip of a river. Then there’s the engineering officers, those responsible for keeping the ship running. Depending on the ship, there are crew members called oilers who keep things lubricated and running smoothly.


You’ll need to be in good physical condition to work in this field, which means it’s best to start out that way instead of needing a major change in lifestyle during training. Get in good shape and be prepared to put in long hours and you’ll get it in just fine.


You’re going to have to put in the time to work up the ladder, whether you get your degree or not. Start early with your on-deck experience and log as many hours as you can to get a head start.