Captains oversee transportation of passengers or cargo on boats and ships. They are responsible for following proper safety procedures and keeping track of all goods and people on their vessels. They must know how to run and fix every mechanical and electrical device onboard. They also must stay in close contact with the United States Coast Guard about weather conditions and port procedures, and they must know current maritime laws well.
When you list skills required in your captain job description, you should stress that the top candidate will have strong interpersonal skills and mediation and negotiation abilities. Responsibilities of this position include communicating courteously with many different people in various situations.
Captains also hire, train, promote and fire workers and staff, and they must be aware of everything happening on a vessel. Review the captain job description template below to better understand what to include in your own posting.
Captain Job Summary
Have you worked your way through the ranks as a deckhand or attended a merchant academy because you love the open sea? You can see the world and enjoy the outdoors while you work if you join our team as a boat captain. We are looking for a knowledgeable, hard-working captain to transport people and minimal cargo. You can use your knowledge of maritime laws and procedures to safely travel national and international waters. This is an excellent opportunity if you are an experienced boat officer and want to use and grow your strong communication skills, sharp eye for details and responsible nature while sailing crystalline lakes, flowing rivers and oceans blue.
- Steer and operate vessels using equipment such as radar, depth finders, radios, buoys, lights and lighthouses
- Dock and undock sailing vessels, sometimes navigating through tight spaces, such as locks
- Alter navigation plans based on weather conditions to keep vessels, passengers and cargo safe
- Inspect boats and ships to ensure efficient and safe operation of vessels and equipment and their conformity to regulations
- Read gauges to ensure safe levels of hydraulic fluid and oxygen or air pressure
- Compute positions, set courses and determine speeds using charts, compasses, sextants, area plotting sheets and knowledge of local conditions
- Signal crew members and deckhands to perform necessary tasks, including rig tow lines, open or close ramps and gates and pull guard chains across entries
- Maintain all onboard equipment, and keep detailed records of daily activities, personnel reports, ship positions and movements, ports of call, weather conditions, passenger and cargo status and pollution control efforts
Job Skills & Qualifications
- Post-secondary non-degree award, or four to five years’ experience on a boat or ship working up the ranks of ships’ mates
- Two or more years’ experience as a captain
- Firm knowledge of marine craft communication, signaling and navigation systems
- Able to easily multi-task, including performing administrative duties
- Develop and build teams
Captain Job Responsibilities
There are two essential things to remember when writing the job responsibilities portion of your captain job description. First, according to a recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 85 percent of jobseekers cite clearly defined job duties as the number one factor that determines whether they apply for a job. Second, they cite job passion as a major work requirement. These two facts can help you craft your job responsibilities section in such a way that captures the interest of top-quality candidates.
Due to the key role the job responsibilities section plays in determining if jobseekers apply for a position, this section of the captain job description should clearly articulate what a day in the life of the employee would look like. It is critical that you include all of the major duties of the job without overwhelming potential applicants. Use a bullet point list that offers no more than eight key responsibilities. Start each bullet point with a verb to give a sense of action to the day. Also, as per applicants’ interest in job passion, be sure to feature exciting projects and work critical to the success of the company.
A few examples of captain job responsibilities are as follows:
- Oversee all operations onboard the vessel, including navigation, maintenance and compliance with local regulations
- Instruct all new crewmembers in safety procedures
- Direct supervisor for crew of 18
- Ensure the seaworthiness of the ship before every departure
Captain Job Specifications
As already mentioned, sometimes bullet point lists are the best way to communicate information in your captain job description. Another place to use bullet points is in the job qualifications and skills section. This part should be broken into two lists, one for required traits and one for preferred. It is crucial to be clear which skills and qualifications are required, as opposed to which are preferred but not necessary. This delineation will help discourage both underqualified and overqualified candidates from applying for the position and streamline your hiring process.
When possible, try to coordinate writing the required skills and qualifications portion of your captain job description with the help of a hiring manager or the direct report for the position. This can help you solidify exactly which responsibilities are essential to the position and which are helpful but not critical. Think through all of the possible needed skills for the position, from licenses and certifications to software expertise and foreign language fluency.
Below are some examples of possible captain job specifications:
- Must have a USCG Captain’s License
- 3+ years’ experience boat handling preferred
- Ability to maintain a professional, well-groomed appearance per company standards
- CPR or related first aid certifications preferred