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Merchant Mariners

Earnings

Wages vary according to the worker's rank and the size of the vessel. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that earnings in water transportation occupations range from the minimum wage ($7.25 an hour, or $15,080 annually) for some beginning seamen or mate positions to more than $116,220 annually for experienced captains of larger vessels, such as container ships, oil tankers, or passenger ships. In May 2015, median annual salaries for ship captains, mates, and pilots were $76,780. Ship engineers earned a median salary of $72,870; sailors and marine oilers, $41,260; and motorboat operators, $36,800. 

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