Career Profile:

Ship's Navigation Officer

Institute for Ocean Research Enterprise, 2015
Institute for Ocean Research Enterprise, 2015


Median Yearly





This unit group is for ship's captain an other deck officers: Deck officers operate ships or self-propelled vessels to transport passengers and cargo on oceans and coastal and inland waters, and supervise and co-ordinate the activities of deck crews.

Work type:


Most likely to work in:

Halifax, South Shore, Cape Breton

Most employees have:

Trades certificate or diploma


Transport Canada - Certificate of Competency for Watchkeeping Mate

What you do

Ship's Navigation Officers are responsible for the safety of the ship, your crew and any other person on board the vessel. They may plan and execute safe passage using navigational aids and determine the geographical position ships using navigational instruments, maps, and charts. They may also direct and oversee the loading and unloading of cargo; and record on the ship's log the vessel's progress, crew's activities, and weather and sea conditions. 

A Ship's Navigation Officer performs 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;
  • Plan and execute safe navigational passage using navigational aids;
  • Determine geographical position using navigational instruments, maps and charts; and 
  • Command and operate coast guard vessels to provide ice-breaking and search and rescue services.

What you need

  • Comfortable working in offshore environments;
  • Have strong leadership qualities and management skills;
  • Must be in good physical health and meet eyesight and colour vision requirements;
  • Problem-solving and decision making skills are essential;
  • Have a strong understanding of principles of marine navigation, seamanship, meteorology, ship construction and stability;
  • The ability to work well with other professionals;
  • Enjoy variety in job tasks; and
  • Excellent communication skills.

References and further reading

* The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is "fair", which indicates the changes of a qualified individual finding work is around average.

Your Career Pathway

Opportunities for Hands-on Experience

Secondary School
Co-op Options and Opportunities (Science Streams)
Oceans 11

Post-Secondary Educational Programs

Regulating Body: Transport Canada's Certificate of Competency for Watchkeeping Mate Exam

Successful completion of this exam enables you to secure a job in the Marine industry as a Ship's navigation officer.