How Much Do Sailors Make?

How Much Do Sailors Make? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

August 30, 2022

Being a sailor is a great career for those who love to travel. This is why many who wish to become sailors wonder how much sailors make.

If you’re one of them, then you’re in the right place. A sailor’s salary can vary greatly depending on where you live, which is why you should always do your research before you decide to apply.

A sailor’s average annual income is $32,000, with their pay ranging from $19,000 to $64,000, based on various factors such as education, experience, company, and location. The highest paying US states for sailors include Oregon ($77,000), New York ($62,000), Maryland ($62,000), and Alaska ($62,000).

A career as a sailor can be challenging and interesting at the same time. We have gone through various sources and have spoken to experienced sailors to find out how much sailors make in the US, so you’ll want to read on if you’re considering becoming a sailor as a career.

As experienced sailors, we have a good idea of how much sailors can make in the US and the different factors that can impact your take-home salary.


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How Much Do Sailors Make?

As commanded by the captain, mate, or pilot, sailors stand to watch to scan for impediments in the vessel’s course, monitor water depth, turn the bridge wheel, or deploy emergency equipment. Disassemble, rig, overhaul, and store cargo-handling, stationary rigging, and running equipment. Perform a range of maintenance activities to maintain the ship’s painted surface and line and ship equipment. When operating onboard liquid-carrying vessels, you must have government-issued certification and tankerman certification. So, how much do sailors make? Let’s find out.

Entry-level Sailors who have little to no experience can expect to get a salary between $25,000 and $33,000 per year, or in other words, between $12 to $16 per hour. Like any other job, their compensation will increase as they gain experience.

Moving to a higher-paying state is another simple approach to boost your compensation as a Sailor and Marine Oiler. Moving to a better-paying state, such as Maryland, does not ensure that you will make more money because your costs in MD may be significantly more than where you are now.

The good news is that the marine business is booming, and the increased need for sailors promises a long and secure career. You may start making more than $60,000 per year as soon as you become a seafarer. During their training, all recruits will be paid a stipend. Dearness Allowances, Group’ X’ pay (if applicable), Military Service Pay, and allowances of the trade to which they are designated minus the stipend would be payable upon successful completion of training.

Navy Sailors

In the United States, the average wage for a Sailor is $33,000 per year, which is 42% less than the average US Navy salary of $58,000 per year. Sailors earn nearly the same as their American counterparts. They earn less than avionics technicians but more than truck drivers on average.

The US Navy has two promotion systems: one for enlisted sailors and another for officers. Sailors usually join at the pay grade E-1, seaman recruit, and work their way up to E-9, master chief petty officer. Prospective enlistees must have high school graduation, while there are several exceptions that allow for a General Education Diploma, as stated in Today’s Military (GED).

Enlisted personnel’s advancement in the Navy ranks is determined by a variety of variables, including promotion performance assessment marks and proficiency exam results. In the naval service, having a track record of good work performance and competent leadership of others is the best way to advance.

As a Navy officer progresses through the ranks, promotion becomes more difficult. Officers do not have advancement tests. Thus, performance assessments, known as fitness reports, and remarkable achievements are quite important. Selection boards comprising of senior officers make judgments about pay grades ranging from O-2, or lieutenant junior grade, through O-6, or captain. Officers who want to promote usually look for difficult assignments, graduate degrees, and a track record of exceptional leadership.

It should also be noted that a sailor’s progress is determined by a variety of circumstances. Performance reviews, test scores, awards, time in grade, and even the number of times you’ve passed an exam but missed the promotion deadline are just a few of them. The most important aspect that sailors have no control over is the number of openings in a certain rating.

The Navy refers to this figure as “opportunity,” which refers to the number of vacant slots. It has a direct impact on the proportion of eligible sailors who pass their advancement examinations and are eventually promoted. The Navy’s ratings vary significantly since certain vocations allow sailors to progress swiftly while others do not.

Highest Paying Cities for Sailors

We found ten places where the average Professional Sailor pay is higher than the national average. San Francisco, CA is at the top of the list, with Fremont, CA and San Jose, CA following closely after. Sailors in San Jose, CA, make around $6,600 (15.1%), while sailors in San Francisco, CA, also get above-average $10,000 (22.8%).

Another issue to consider is that the average income in these top ten cities differs just by 10%, so there’s more room for growth in the future. When evaluating location and compensation for a Professional Sailor career, the prospect of a cheaper cost of living may be the most important thing to consider.

With average incomes greater than the national average in these ten US cities, the potential for economic success as a professional sailor looks to be quite promising. When considering civilian employment, keep in mind that your net compensation will most likely be significantly lower than the amount you were offered once taxes and perks are removed. You may also be eligible for a variety of bonuses or allowances that increase your take-home pay over your base income. As a result, even if the headline compensation offer is excellent, civilian pay might feel like a step-down.

Taxes will most certainly be the largest deduction from your civilian paycheck. Military compensation isn’t taxed, such as housing allowances, combat pay, or cost-of-living adjustments. Only a few perks are deducted before taxes in the civilian realm, and substantially more of your wage is taxable. You may be liable to federal, state, and local income taxes and Social Security and Medicare taxes.

How Much Do Sailors Make?
Jacob Collier

Jacob Collier

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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