What is a Ship Loader?

One occupation that many people are becoming increasingly interested in pursuing is in the water transportation field. In particular, the need for ship loaders is increasing at an impressive rate, and once the minimum requirements are met, ship loading can be a very rewarding occupation.

A ship loader is an individual who is responsible for loading and unloading ships, maintaining the ship, and spending multiple hours, days or weeks aboard these vessels. This occupation varies quite a bit based on what kind of work is required and what types of distances are being transversed. For example, a cargo loader who specializes going up and down a local river might only be gone for a few hours while a ship loader transporting goods to from country to country may be out-of-town for days or even weeks. The work is also often seasonal due to the fact that it is quite a bit more difficult to transfer goods via waterways during winter.

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What does a Ship Loader do?

As the name implies, a ship loader is an individual who participates in the loading and unloading of cargo from various sea vessels. When not actually loading or unloading ships, a ship loader often performs day-to-day upkeep activities on the ship and its cargo. The average loader can expect to spend long periods away from home and aboard a vessel, so both of these things should be taken into account when applying for this position.

The key attribute of the ship loader is versatility. While the name implies that the occupation only consists of loading and unloading a cargo ship, the cargo loader may be responsible for a number of important tasks on board the ship, which include but are not limited to: passenger safety, ship operation, cargo loading and unloading, ship cleanliness and efficiency and ship towing. A cargo loader must be ready to carry out whatever task that is handed down by the chain of command - the ship loader's responsibility is essentially to assure the success of the voyage.

What does it take to be a Ship Loader?

The degree of education varies heavily from location to location, though as a general rule most ship loaders should have a bachelor's degree before pursuing this type of occupation.

Because this particular job involves transportation of cargo, special licenses are required before the job can be accepted. The Transportation Worker identification credential, or TWIC and the Merchant Marine Credential, or MMC are usually necessary to apply for this occupation. One final note on degrees and credentials required for this position is that the amount of education often varies per type of cargo loading position. For instance, workers on rivers or canals will require far less training than someone who travels across oceans. On the job training is also available and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Perhaps the most important quality that is necessary to be a cargo loader is the ability to be away from home for extended periods of time. At most, ship loaders can be expected to spend months away from home, but some positions might keep a loader away from home for as little as a few hours.

In addition to a proper education and the ability to be away from home, ship loaders should be in good physical condition and be able to spend extended periods on a ship while still meeting the requirements of their job. Because of the nature of the position, work often needs to be performed seven days a week, often for many hours. Applicants who are not physically fit may have a hard time meeting the demands of this job.

What is the workplace of a Ship Loader like?

While the workplace may occasionally be on the docks of various cities around the world, more often than not, a cargo loader will be on the vessel performing whatever duties are necessary to keep the ship running. Cargo loaders can be expected to spend an extended amount of time with co-workers due to the fact that many voyages last multiple days. The workplace may involve associating with passengers, but in general the workplace will be with other loaders or solitary work.

Work locations will nonetheless vary quite a bit based on ship types. A small percentage of cargo loaders work on cruise ships and other sightseeing boats, and the environment will thusly be much more focused on the passengers rather than any particular cargo. Cargo loaders are also needed on government ships as well as general transportation needs, so the workplace may vary greatly from job to job.

One final thing to note about the workplace is that it can be a potentially dangerous environment. Weather, heavy machinery and cargo are just a few potentially hazardous elements that can cause problems. However, many enhancements in training procedures and technology have helped to minimize the risks to workers in this occupation. With proper preparation, many dangers can be completely avoided.

How much does a Ship Loader earn?

The pay for a ship loader is typically between $45,000 and $50,000 per year. As with most occupations, this value can vary based on education and the type of cargo loading that the job entails.

Learn more about being a Ship Loader