What does a Captain do?

A captain is the leader of an entire vessel ranging from a small yacht to a cruise liner. They have vast experience with operating ships having likely worked their way through the ranks of ship-related positions. They are proficient in every aspect of running a ship from its operation to its maintenance and if they work on a touring ship including a cruise liner they play host to passengers.

A captain ensures equipment receives proper maintenance and that the vessel follows environmental regulations. They keep regular logs throughout the journey and supervise passengers and crew members, embarking and disembarking from the ship. If traveling to international waters, a captain must meet local and international customs and inspections’ requirements. They are also responsible for security aboard the ship in terms of basic operations and under extreme circumstances, including a response to threats from terrorists, pirates, hijackers, and stowaways. Captains need a master's degree in marine engineering or marine science, preferably from a maritime academy or college.

Work/Life Balance
3.2 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.7 ★
Avg. Experience2-4 years

How much does a Captain make near United States?

$157,885 /yr
Total Pay

Base Pay


Additional Pay


 / yr
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
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Captain Career Path

Learn how to become a Captain, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.


Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
2 - 4
5 - 7
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Captain Insights

Read what Captain professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
UnCruise AdventuresUnCruise Adventures
Oct 12, 2023

“The quality and caliber of the crew was top notch and the vetting requirements showed.”

Star LineStar Line
Boat Captain
Aug 17, 2021

“The pay is really good and somehow compensates for the seasonal nature of the job.”

Piedmont AirlinesPiedmont Airlines
Apr 11, 2022

“Certain Management positions tend to try to go out of the way to persecute employees for personal reasons”

Nov 12, 2021

“occasionally get little notice for an upcoming trip or last minute changes to a current trip.”

US ArmyUS Army
O3 - Army - Captain
Jan 20, 2022

“Training on items assigned or of interest to you at all phases of your career.”

Cape AirCape Air
Aug 8, 2023

“Good people and interesting flying”

Delta Private JetsDelta Private Jets
Line Captain
Jul 16, 2021

“Fun Place to work and the people are very nice and helpful.”

Rider Captain
Jun 30, 2022

“People are great and communicative.”

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Captain Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the roles and responsibilities of a Captain

The most similar professions to Captain are:
  • Flight Instructor
  • Pilot
  • Helicopter Pilot
  • General Manager

Related Careers

Flight Instructor
No skills overlap
No skills overlap
Helicopter Pilot
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General Manager
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Captain Jobs