Shipping Careers Outlook
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment in water transportation occupations is expected to grow more slowly than the average through 2014. Employment in deep-sea shipping should stabilize after several years of decline. This is due in part to new international regulations for higher standards of safety, training, and working conditions. The regulations should lessen competition from ships that sail under foreign flags of convenience (FOCs). FOCs will have to pay higher insurance rates if they do not comply with the new standards. However, insurance rates for ships under industrialized countries’ flags, including that of the United States, should become less expensive, increasing the amount of international cargo carried by U.S. ships.
Shipments of products carried by Great Lakes vessels, such as coal, iron ore, petroleum, sand and gravel, grain, and chemicals, are expected to grow through 2014, but that is likely to be offset by the vast growth of imported foreign steel, which is dampening employment in that area of the country. There are good chances for employment in transport on the Mississippi River system.
Employment in shipping will be affected by newer ships designed to be operated by much smaller crews. Automated controls and computerized monitoring systems in navigation, engine control, watchkeeping, ship management, and cargo handling are some technologies that are reducing the need for large crews. Possible future developments include oceangoing cargo vessels that use jet propulsion, called fast ships. These new vessels would decrease ocean-crossing times and in turn, increase business and employment. Crew responsibilities, however, will change and they will need training to learn new skills.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 72,000 people were employed in the water transportation industry in 2004. At certain points in the year this number may have been twice as large, since many merchant marines and seamen work only part of the year.
Related Career Fields:
Related Career Cluster:
- Aerospace Engineers
- Locomotive Engineers
- Marine Services Technicians
- Merchant Mariners
- Public Transportation Operators
- Railroad Clerks
- Reservation and Ticket Agents
- Signal Mechanics