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What Can I Do With a Degree in Nautical Science?

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Knowledge of Nautical Science is important for mariners to ensure that they can navigate, manage, and operate a ship on the ocean transporting cargoes for goods and services around the world and along coastlines everywhere. Nautical science is the study of the principles and practices of operating different types and sizes of vessels safely, efficiently and cost-effectively. Some topics within nautical science include navigation, ship stability and ship handling, meteorology, propulsion, fire safety, security and more.

A degree in Nautical Science will give you many options for employment in the maritime transportation industry. You will be a certified seafarer with the ability to continue working your way into senior ranks through continuing education.

Upon graduation, you will begin your career as an Officer of the Watch (Deck Officer) and a Limited Tonnage Master (Captain). In this role, you will be an important part of the ship’s management team. While on watch, you will be responsible for making decisions on steering and maneuvering the ship, controlling communications and navigation, and using technological systems. With continuing education, you can achieve higher ranks, such as: Third Deck Officer, Second Deck Officer, Chief Deck Officer (Chief Mate), and Master (Ship’s Captain).

The maritime industry is relied upon worldwide, and is thus an very strong market to work in. As of 2018, the median pay for employees in the maritime transportation industry was $54,400 per year, at $26.16 per hour with an additional $20,000 per year in overtime at this paygrade, with 83,400 jobs in this industry.

The average salary of a Deck Officer is roughly $97,000.

With a degree in Nautical Science, you will have the opportunity to work in different maritime industries on different types of vessels, such as:

Container ShipsCruise Liners
Bulk CarriersFerries Oil & Gas Tankers
Deep Water BerthsOff-shore Energy
Cargo ShipsDredging Companies
Port WorkSpecialist Vessels – Seismic & Exploration Ships, Pilot Vessels, Tugs and Mega Yachts

As a Deck Officer, your roles may include:

Officer – MaintenanceNavigation & Ship Handling
Passage & Voyage PlanningEnsuring safety is maintained when operating the ship, i.e. safety of the crew and the environment.
WatchShipboard Administration
Handling, loading and care of cargoes on the ship. 

At NMI, the Associate program incorporates 27 credits of general education courses and 50 credits of nautical science courses ranging from an Introduction to Nautical Science course in the first semester to an Advanced Shiphandling course in the final semester of the program. Our teaching model includes hands on learning, simulator training, classroom theory and internship experiences for all styles of learning.

Your two 90-day summer internships (Semesters at Sea) will provide you with:

  • Industry hands-on experience working as part of a vessel’s crew
  • Accumulation of approved sea-time to be applied to professional licensing
  • Course credits for ENG111 Sea Journal I, ENG112 Sea Journal II
  • Course credits for NS102 STCW Navigational Watch I and NS102A STCW Navigational Watch II which include required practical demonstration sign-offs recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard as part of the program’s approval.

Through your residential classes and your internships, completion of your Nautical Science degree will provide you with an array of skills, including technical and non-technical skills, such as:

Technical Skills

Health & Safety TrainingFire Fighting
First Aid TrainingSea Survival
Radio Communications TrainingNavigation Training
Meteorology TrainingPersonal Safety & Social Responsibility
Logistics & Passage / Voyage PlanningMathematical Ability

Non-Technical Skills

Problem-solvingSelf-discipline & Self-reliance
Communication – Verbal & WrittenTaking Responsibility & Accountability
Interpersonal – Intercultural interactionOrganization – Workspace & Self
Flexibility & Adaptability – Limited time off in some industries e.g. Cruise Liners as you are expected to work and entertain clients as required.Demonstrating Professionalism – Corporate image is important to this industry
Multi-taskingLogical/Practical Thinker
Teamwork & LeadershipResourceful
Self-confidence & ability to inspire confidence in othersDecision-making

After obtaining a degree in Nautical Science at NMI, you may qualify for the following License/Credentials and Endorsements:


United StatesCommonwealth of Dominica
Able Seaman – LimitedII/3 Master Less Than 500 GT
Master 100 Ton
Mate 200 Ton

***NMI does not provide formal advice regarding USCG license eligibility and cannot guarantee an individual’s eligibility for any specific license or credential.  NMI accepts no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or validity of general information provided. Information is provided purely as a courtesy, convenience and without cost.  Individuals seeking confirmation of eligibility for any specific USCG license or credential must contact the USCG directly for an evaluation.


STCW Basic Safety TrainingAssistance TowingProficiency in Survival Craft
Radar Observer (Unlimited)Auxiliary SailECDIS

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