Ship's Master Poutikanga Whakahaere Kaipuke

Ship's masters are in charge of a ship, its crew and any passengers or cargo it is carrying – on the water and in port. On tugs or pilot boats, ship's masters may guide or assist ships in and out of harbours or through difficult waterways.

Ship's masters may do some or all of the following:

  • look after passengers, cargo and the vessel's safety
  • plan and execute the vessel's route
  • ensure all maritime laws, rules and regulations are followed and records are kept correctly
  • ensure maintenance and repairs are carried out
  • oversee any emergency operations
  • supervise cargo handling.

Tug masters and pilots may also:

  • guide and assist ships in and out of harbours and other difficult waterways
  • assist with hazard identification, firefighting, pollution control and rescues.

Physical Requirements

Ship's masters need to:

  • be reasonably fit and healthy
  • have a good level of stamina
  • have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses)
  • have normal colour vision.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for ship's masters includes:

  • service in the Navy
  • work as a deckhand or other seafarer roles.

Personal Qualities

Ship's masters need to be:

  • mature and responsible
  • organised and disciplined
  • adaptable
  • able to make good judgements
  • able to work well in a team.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for ship's masters includes:

  • service in the Navy
  • work as a deckhand or other seafarer roles.

Subject Recommendations

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a ship's master. However, English, maths, physics, chemistry and biology to at least NCEA level 2 are useful.

Ship's Masters can earn around $39K-$70K per year per year.

Ship's masters can progress to more land-based roles such as maritime tutor or lecturer.

They may also move into administrative or management roles in the maritime industry such as:

  • ship cargo surveyor
  • harbour master
  • marine manager
  • chief executive of a port company.

Ship's masters may specialise in operating a particular size or type of vessel such as:

  • tug boat
  • petrol tanker
  • container ship
  • fishing boat
  • cruise ship
  • superyacht
  • water taxi
  • passenger ferry
  • tourism vessel. 
Ship's Master

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