Deck officers, water transport (NOC 2273)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Deck officers in water transport operate and command ships or self-propelled vessels to transport passengers and cargo on oceans and coastal and inland waters. This occupation includes Canadian Coast Guard deck officers.

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People in this career supervise and coordinate the activities of deck crews. They work for marine transportation companies and federal government departments.

Common job titles
  • Coast Guard vessel chief officer
  • Coast Guard vessel commanding officer
  • commanding officer
  • dredge captain / officer
  • ferryboat captain / officer
  • first mate


Deck officers perform some or all of the following duties:

  • command and operate ships or other self-propelled vessels, such as barges or oil rigs, to transport passengers and cargo
  • command and operate coast guard vessels to provide ice breaking and search and rescue services and to maintain control over ships operating in Canadian waters
  • board vessels at berth or from pilot boat to advise ships' captains on the course to steer for safe passage into and out of port, seaway or other waterway under pilotage authority
  • plan and execute safe navigational passage using navigational aids
  • determine geographical position using navigational instruments, maps and charts
  • guide vessels in rivers, canals, and other confined or hazardous waters and waterways
  • maintain vessel's navigational instruments and equipment
  • direct and oversee loading and unloading of cargo
  • supervise and coordinate activities of deck crews
  • record vessel's progress, crew's activities, weather and sea conditions on ship's log

Work environment

Key aspects of work in this occupation:

  • Work takes place on ships, coast guard or other self-propelled vessels.
  • Working on boats and ships with varied sea conditions can be hazardous.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Transport Canada runs a deck officer certification program, consisting of several levels. Progression from one level of certification to the next requires additional experience, training and testing.

Movement between employers is possible for positions requiring the same level of certification.

Progression to management positions in transportation is possible with experience.

Additional resources

Additional resources are not currently available for this career.