Boat Captain Career Information

The career of a professional boat captain is based on a series of possibilities in terms of job opportunities and personal goals. Individual careers are to a large extent self-driven. Boat captains have a wide range of options at every stage in their careers. The key to success is knowing how to develop the career potentials and find and use those options effectively.  

The working career: A case study

This is an illustration of the career moves and options of a boat captain:

  • Phase 1: A sailor with seven years professional experience trains and qualifies as a licensed captain of a class of motor vessel which is used for tour services locally. The new boat captain is promoted by the tour operator to captain of a new boat in the tour fleet. With the new role comes a significant increase in pay, and the boat captain learns a lot about business practices in the industry. Boat captains are also business managers, to a degree, so this new experience is a valuable career asset. 
  • Phase 2: The boat captain takes another career step and does business management studies. Further studies for qualifications as captain of larger vessels are also undertaken. This essential training is an important part of a series of natural career options for the captain. The business studies allow for progression in the organization. They're also essential for operating larger vessels. The additional captaincy qualifications allow for major advancement in the industry. The captain needs to be qualified to operate larger vessels. He can't progress in the organization at all, until he qualifies in both streams. Without the qualifications his career options are limited to job-hopping. There's another career issue here: This is a cash flow based industry, and employment is notoriously unstable. The boat captain's new qualifications also create many more job opportunities at all levels in the industry.
  • Phase 3: Just as the captain qualifies to operate the larger class of vessel, the tour operation folds. The captain's employer is a corporation, which no longer considers the operation viable. The captain buys one of the larger classes of vessel from the corporation at a hefty discount, a big motor cruiser which can take 100 people at a time, and becomes an independent operator. The captain has spotted a business opportunity. Being an experienced operator, he knows the market. He believes that the corporation was over servicing the business, and that his new vessel alone could cover the real business levels of the operation. He's soon proved right, netting $10,000 a service in fees with overheads (wages, servicing, fuel, catering, etc) of $2000 per tour. He nets $640,000 profit in his first season. 

Career options

The case study above was one of several possible career situations:

  • The captain could have simply moved to another employer. Qualified captains are rarely unemployed for long. 
  • The captain's experience and business qualifications would have permitted a move to another tour operator as a manager.
  • The option chosen in this case was the better financial move, based on reliable information and personal knowledge of the tour market.