What Can I Do With a Degree in Nautical Science?

Banner of assorted maritime ships

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 Ships

Cruise Liners

Bulk Carriers

Ferries Oil & Gas Tankers

Deep Water Berths

Off-shore Energy

Cargo Ships

Dredging Companies

Port Work

Specialist Vessels – Seismic & Exploration Ships, Pilot Vessels, Tugs and Mega Yachts

As a Deck Officer, your roles may include:

Officer – Maintenance

Navigation & Ship Handling

Passage & Voyage Planning

Ensuring safety is maintained when operating the ship, i.e. safety of the crew and the environment.


Shipboard 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 Training

Fire Fighting

First Aid Training

Sea Survival

Radio Communications Training

Navigation Training

Meteorology Training

Personal Safety & Social Responsibility

Logistics & Passage / Voyage Planning

Mathematical Ability

Non-Technical Skills


Self-discipline & Self-reliance

Communication – Verbal & Written

Taking Responsibility & Accountability

Interpersonal – Intercultural interaction

Organization – 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


Logical/Practical Thinker

Teamwork & Leadership


Self-confidence & ability to inspire confidence in others


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


United States

Commonwealth of Dominica

Able Seaman – Limited

II/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 Training

Assistance Towing

Proficiency in Survival Craft

Radar Observer (Unlimited)

Auxiliary Sail


Automatic Radar Plotting Aids


Tankerman Barge PIC