The median annual wage of water transportation occupations was $46,610 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,890, and the top 10 percent earned more than $99,690.
Median annual wages for water transportation occupations in May 2010 were as follows:
Workers on deep-sea ships can spend months at a time away from home.
Workers on supply ships have shorter trips, usually lasting for a few hours to a week.
Tugboats and barges travel along the coasts and on inland waterways and are usually away for 2 to 3 weeks at a time.
Those who work on the Great Lakes have longer trips, around 2 months, but often do not work in the winter when the lakes freeze.
Crews often work long hours, 7 days a week, while aboard a ship.
Ferry workers and motorboat operators usually are away only for a few hours at a time and return home each night. Many ferry and motorboat operators service ships for vacation destinations and have seasonal schedules.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition