Ordinary Seaman Career

Job Description: Stand watch to look for obstructions in path of vessel, measure water depth, turn wheel on bridge, or use emergency equipment as directed by captain, mate, or pilot. Break out, rig, overhaul, and store cargo-handling gear, stationary rigging, and running gear. Perform a variety of maintenance tasks to preserve the painted surface of the ship and to maintain line and ship equipment. Must hold government-issued certification and tankerman certification when working aboard liquid-carrying vessels. Includes able seamen and ordinary seamen.

*A job as an Ordinary Seaman falls under the broader career category of Sailors and Marine Oilers. The information on this page will generally apply to all careers in this category. We are still seeking more specific information about this career from experts in this field. If you can provide us with more information, .

Is Ordinary Seaman the right career path for you?
Take the MyMajors Quiz and find out if it fits one of your top recommended majors!

Ordinary Seaman Career

What Ordinary Seamans do:

  • Sweep, mop, and wash down decks to remove oil, dirt, and debris, using brooms, mops, brushes, and hoses.
  • Load or unload materials from vessels.
  • Handle lines to moor vessels to wharfs, to tie up vessels to other vessels, or to rig towing lines.
  • Stand watch in ships' bows or bridge wings to look for obstructions in a ship's path or to locate navigational aids, such as buoys or lighthouses.
  • Operate, maintain, or repair ship equipment, such as winches, cranes, derricks, or weapons system.
  • Chip and clean rust spots on decks, superstructures, or sides of ships, using wire brushes and hand or air chipping machines.
  • Splice and repair ropes, wire cables, or cordage, using marlinespikes, wire cutters, twine, and hand tools.
  • Lower and man lifeboats when emergencies occur.
  • Break out, rig, and stow cargo-handling gear, stationary rigging, or running gear.
  • Provide engineers with assistance in repairing or adjusting machinery.
  • Steer ships under the direction of commanders or navigating officers or direct helmsmen to steer, following designated courses.
  • Paint or varnish decks, superstructures, lifeboats, or sides of ships.
  • Overhaul lifeboats or lifeboat gear and lower or raise lifeboats with winches or falls.
  • Stand by wheels when ships are on automatic pilot and verify accuracy of courses, using magnetic compasses.
  • Lubricate machinery, equipment, or engine parts such as gears, shafts, or bearings.
  • Stand gangway watches to prevent unauthorized persons from boarding ships while in port.
  • Maintain government-issued certifications, as required.
  • Clean and polish wood trim, brass, or other metal parts.
  • Give directions to crew members engaged in cleaning wheelhouses or quarterdecks.
  • Examine machinery to verify specified pressures or lubricant flows.
  • Attach hoses and operate pumps to transfer substances to and from liquid cargo tanks.
  • Measure depth of water in shallow or unfamiliar waters, using leadlines, and telephone or shout depth information to vessel bridges.
  • Read pressure and temperature gauges or displays and record data in engineering logs.
  • Maintain a ship's engines under the direction of the ship's engineering officers.
  • Record in ships' logs data such as weather conditions and distances traveled.
  • Participate in shore patrols.
  • Relay specified signals to other ships, using visual signaling devices, such as blinker lights or semaphores.
  • Tie barges together into tow units for tugboats to handle, inspecting barges periodically during voyages and disconnecting them when destinations are reached.

What work activities are most important?

Importance Activities

Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events - Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

Handling and Moving Objects - Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material - Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.

Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings - Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

Controlling Machines and Processes - Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).

Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment - Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.

Getting Information - Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment - Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates - Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Performing General Physical Activities - Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.

Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information - Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.

Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People - Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.

Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships - Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work - Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.

Thinking Creatively - Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems - Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge - Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others - Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.

Processing Information - Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards - Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

Training and Teaching Others - Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.

Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others - Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.

Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates - Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.

Coaching and Developing Others - Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.

Analyzing Data or Information - Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.

Documenting/Recording Information - Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

Developing Objectives and Strategies - Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.

Scheduling Work and Activities - Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.

Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others - Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

Assisting and Caring for Others - Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.

Communicating with Persons Outside Organization - Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.

Holland Code Chart for an Ordinary Seaman

Is This Career Right for Me?

The fastest way toward knowing if ordinary-seaman is the career for you is to take this quiz to find your career path.