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Merchant Mariners


Wages vary according to the worker's rank and the size of the vessel. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that in May 2018, earnings in water transportation occupations ranged from $40,900 for sailors and oilers, to more than $144,690 annually for experienced captains of larger vessels, such as container ships, oil tankers, or passenger ships. In May 2018, median annual salaries for ship captains, mates, and pilots were $69,180. Ship engineers earned a median salary of $71,130, and motorboat operators earned about $50,290. 

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