Maritime Jobs - Marina Manager or Dock Master

Supertanker and workers in dry dock
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One note before we go any further. We are going to talk about the two titles above as if they were the same job. Why combine these two jobs into one description? It’s because the titles are somewhat interchangeable and are used as synonyms in many cases.

These maritime jobs are the top position in many yard and dock operations around the world. Since we are talking about so many diverse operations it's impossible to know what each marina will use for an official title.

This shouldn't be a problem because an experienced yard and dock worker will be able to understand if they are qualified for the position no matter what the title. It isn't an entry-level job and requires broad knowledge that is generally not available in classes. Most of the skills required come from on the job training in the specific practices of an organization.

Specific practices might be tied to climate, a method of dock construction, services offered, and many other factors. There is so much diversity to this type of work it's not possible to list all the skills you need in your maritime career.

But let's get started and define a few more differences later.

Dock Master

Dock Master is generally the title of the top yard and dock employee at a marina or yacht club where there is a general manager of the entire facility including restaurants and club activities. This is mostly true of large operations and places that have the tradition of a Dock Master as the head of the yard and dock department.

The core duties of a Dock Master are to manage docks, vessels, storage areas, and dock staff. Dock staff, or Dock Hands, are workers who report to the Dock Master directly or to an assistant. The job is often so complex and intertwined with the regular operations that there is often an assistant Dock Master who acts as an apprentice. Unless you are already working in a top position it is often necessary to consider becoming an assistant so day to day operations can be learned.

Physical skills are a major part of most jobs in yard and dock and this is no exception. Dock staff handles most of the work of fueling, docking, cleaning, and maintaining but the whole crew works at any job needed when it's busy or a big project is underway.

Big projects include things like building or installing docks or seasonally busy times when hauling out and launches take up most of the day. Smaller daily tasks like managing dock space and reservations are everyone's responsibility but ultimately the Dock Master is responsible.

Responsibility does bring some rewards, and it helps to know that a nice paycheck is waiting on payday. Income for this job can be up to six figures in some large marinas near year around boating centers.

When a storm comes up or there is a major event to host you will be the one who is called in at all hours so you will earn that nice paycheck.

Marina Manager

In smaller operations where there are few employees many of the above duties will fall upon the marina manager.

This job requires everything that a Dock Master does plus a lot more. In this job, you might also keep the financial books or do marketing. Maybe you will do regulatory paperwork or contact potential customers to stimulate business. There is no limit; it all depends on the individual employer.

Most of the time other employees will deal with broken showers and clogged toilets but if it's just you for the day guess who is getting out the plunger.

Nasty, you are thinking, Yuk; why would I do this you can work anywhere and unclog a toilet. True, but on the other hand there are times when you will be amazed you are being paid to take a boat across the harbor on a beautiful summer day or taking a swim when it's hot to dive for the car keys that were dropped off the dock.

Pay for this job is proportional to the size of the operation. It can be low paying or it can be six figures depending on location, duties, and experience. It does take experience and don't think that you will get this as your first maritime job.