Seaman’s Salary Per Month on International Ships

by | Last updated May 9, 2024 | Career Guide, Salary, Seaman's Life | 20 comments

A seaman’s salary is one of the most mysterious, well-hidden, and sought-after figures to many people. 

In fact, we are one of the highest-paid workers around the world. Our salaries on a per month basis are much bigger compared to other land-based professions.

I’ve been sailing with different nationalities and I found out that we all share this same privilege.

Overall, the offshore industry enjoys the highest wages. The highest pay a seaman could receive is USD 1,000.00 PER DAY! You have to be a Master Mariner on a Jack-up Barge to earn that.

On the other hand, the average salary of a Master and a Chief Engineer is around USD 12,000.00.

Now, we are going to tackle this very juicy topic. Since there are many kinds of ships out there, we will focus on a variety of tankers and dry cargo ships.

Salary on Tanker Vessels

Tankers are one of the most dangerous ships many sea folks consider. But the risk is rewarded proportionately well. 

Since there are many different types of tanker vessels, it’s a bit challenging to pinpoint the exact wages offered for each kind.

I took the liberty to layout and compare 4 tanker types. Feel free to browse if your pay is within what the industry is giving.

This does not only cover Filipino seafarers but also includes the wages of other nationalities. Here are the monthly salaries of seafarers in tanker vessels.

Salary of Seafarers in Tanker Ships

Numbers here could be more or less than the actual amount offered by different companies. Factors such as overtime payments, bonuses, and other extra incomes may offset your salary.

Bosuns, Pumpmen, and Fitters usually have the same salary brackets.

Though the Chief Mate has the highest rank in the deck department, his income is slightly less than that of the head of the engine department. His salary counterpart in the engine department is the Second Engineer.

Most Captains enjoy a five-figure pay every month. Cadets, on the other hand, are the lowest-paid crew on board.

However, there are ships that favor giving extra allowances to cadets in the deck and engine department. This is in the form of cash incentives from excess OT payments given by the crew- ratings and/ or officers.

I experienced that privilege when I was a deck cadet. Our Chief Officer always adds extra overtime hours to Bosun, 2 ABs, and the Ordinary Seaman (OS). 

Since we are working with an open overtime system, they will then give me extra dollars that would collectively reach USD100.00 every month!

This is on top of some extra treats they (Ratings, Junior, and Senior Officers) gave me during shore leave.

Wages on Dry Cargo Ships

Tankers are not the only ships around. There are still hundreds of different kinds of vessels like container ships, car carriers, general cargo vessels, and bulk carriers.

But this time, I only selected a few of them for illustration purposes.

Salary of Seafarers in Dry Cargo Ships

I researched the sources of these figures from various online communities, internet sites, conversations, and collective bargaining agreements found over the world wide web and company websites. 

The wages here are based on actual job postings and may change anytime.

When comparing the salary between dry carriers and tanker ships, the latter usually is higher. But there are companies who offer very competitive rates on bulkers. 

For officers and engineers, the difference between those two ships could range from USD300 to USD1,000 a month!

By salary alone, you could probably identify which type of vessel is the best to work at.

Salary Increase

The Committee reached an agreement last November 2018 to update the minimum wage for an Able Seaman (AB) by USD 27.00 over the next three years (2018 to 2021). 

That’s an increase of 4.5% on the 2018 rate of USD 614.00.

Last May 17, 2022, the Committee convened another meeting and decided to increase the minimum wage to USD 673 in 2025.

Here is the historical record of the seaman’s salary since 2019 as well as the Committee’s plan to implement an incremental increase until the year 2025:

  • USD 618 as of 1 July 2019 – an increase of USD 4.00
  • USD 625 as of 1 January 2020 – an increase of USD 7.00
  • USD 641 as of 1 January 2021 – an increase of USD 16.00
  • USD 648 as of 1 January 2022 – an increase of USD 7.00
  • USD 658 as of 1 January 2023 – an increase of USD 10.00
  • USD 666 as of 1 January 2024 – an increase of USD 8.00
  • USD 673 as of 1 January 2025 – an increase of USD 7.00

It must be noted that the increase applies to the basic pay. At the start of 2023, the minimum basic wage for Able Seaman is USD 658.00

So from this year to 2025, we will have a 2.28% increase in our base salary.

Who Sets the Minimum Wage?

Despite having the same ranks and type of vessels, our salary could vary slightly but other times greatly. 

We often find fellow seafarers jumping from one company to another looking for bluer oceans.

We also envy other nationalities over our own. Europeans and American mariners tend to have bigger pay than their Asian counterparts. Even if the job is the same, the salary range could differ a lot.

But who is setting the minimum wage standards?

Sample of employment contract of an able seaman

ILO Joint Maritime Commission

Every two years, the International Labor Convention (ILO) Joint Maritime Committee convenes and discusses the recommended minimum wages for seafarers. 

It is a concerted effort between the International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), and the representative list of selected maritime countries.

These organizations convene whenever the wage standard is reviewed or altered. Before agreeing on anything, they must consider a few factors affecting every country. 

These are the changes in consumer prices, changes in exchange rates, and the purchasing power of the US Dollar.

These elements answer our questions on why some nationalities earn more while others earn less. Let’s talk about this in particular.

Representative list of countries and areas

Whenever ILO wants to adjust the salary of seafarers, they don’t just do it on their own. A sub-committee consisting of all major maritime countries and major supplier of seafarers are consulted.

Major maritime countries are those with more than 2 million gross tons of shipping. 

Major suppliers of seafarers are those with more than 10,000 seafarers like the Philippines which now sits second to China.

Changes in Purchasing Power of US Dollars calculated by th ILO Joint Maritime Commission

Changes in consumer prices (CPI)

The consumer price index (CPI) is one of the basic tools for measuring inflation. It is used to evaluate the price changes in relation to the cost of living.

CPI examines the weighted average of prices in a basket of consumer goods and services such as food, medical care, utilities, and transportation over a period of time.

Different countries have their own CPI. Thus, it’s one of the contributing factors which affects our salary.

Changes in exchange rates

For us Filipino seafarers, a higher exchange rate means more Pesos on our allotment. However, this could adversely affect the prices of goods in our country.

Products using imported raw materials will be the first to feel its impact. These businesses will pass the increased cost to the consumers.

Thus, the committee takes into account the exchange rates over a period of time when adjusting seafarers’ wages.

Purchasing power of the US Dollar

Purchasing power refers to the value of a currency expressed in terms of the amount of goods or services that one unit of money can buy.

When convening for wage adjustment, the Committee applies changes in CPI and exchange rate to determine the purchasing power against the local currency for each country.

The result will then be used to balance our pay.

Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA)

Aside from the ILO Joint Maritime Commission, CBAs are also used to define minimum wage standards for seafarers. 

It is primarily enforced by trade unions. The most active and famous in this craft is the ITF (International Transport Workers Federation).

A collective bargaining agreement is a legally binding, written contract between a company and its employees represented by an independent trade union. 

This agreement sets down conditions for employment like wages, working/ rest hours, holidays, vacations, leave pay, overtime payments, and procedures for dispute resolution.

An example of Collective Bargaining Agreement between ITF and IMEC.
Collective Bargaining Agreement

Examples of Seafarer’s Union are the following:

  1. International Transport Workers Federation (ITF)
  2. Associated Marine Officers and Seafarers Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP)
  3. All Japan Seamen’s Union (JSU)
  4. Norwegian Seafarer’s Union (NSU)
  5. National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI)

Sometimes, we hear the terms ITF rate, AMOSUP rate, or even POEA rate. It pertains to the wages of seafarers enforced by these unions.

Despite the hardships of becoming a seafarer, it still attracts more and more people. We can even find women on board who are taking this career very seriously.

Is your salary within the shipping industry’s standard? Share your thoughts.

May the winds be in your favor.



  1. Peter

    Hello, I am thinking about choosing this profession when going to university. But I still have many doubts about how this area works. I hope someone experienced like you could clarify some doubts for me.

    I would like to start by asking about salaries and the way shipping companies operate. So and investigating, the officers, rather than working with a specific ship, work in ports, waiting for indications of which ships they are going to board, am I correct? If so, what would happen to an officer who (for example) fulfilled his contract where he had to drive a ship from California to Sydney, if his contract ended would he be stranded in Sydney? Do companies tend to provide facilities (in contracts) so that officers in these cases can return to their countries of origin or to their common work ports?

    On the other hand, with respect to salaries, from what I understand, salaries vary greatly from country to country, with Americans being at the top of the pyramid, also varying whether the journey will be near the coast or offshore. Even so, most shipping companies sail their vessels under a flag of convenience for offshore traffic. My question is, what is the salary scale, for example, for a third officer and for a captain that large companies like MAERSK or MSC (among others) usually pay for offshore contracts? let’s say the longest contracts. I know that the note you wrote is exactly about that, but the issue is that from what I see on the internet, salaries vary a lot from flag to flag and I would like to know a more general, purely international salary range. On the other hand, is there salary discrimination due to nationality in the context of flags of convenience? Sorry if my comment was very long, but I have many doubts regarding this area. Thank you very much in advance.

    • Gibi

      Hi Peter. Thank you for your sending these questions and showing vigored interest in the maritime profession. I’d be glad to answer and clarify them for you.

      On your first set of questions (second paragraph), the officers including all the crew, don’t work in ports before they join the ship. Picture out this scenario to understand more about the embarkation and disembarkation process:

      A seaman in his home country receives a call from his company to join the ship. After signing his contract and packing his luggage, he flies to the port where the ship is about to dock. Note that all travelling expenses are shouldered by the company including hotels if necessary. The seaman’s time of arrival is arrange so it coincides with the ship’s schedule docking in port. The ship’s agent (hired by the company) or the person in that port in charge of doing this usually makes the arrangement and contacts the seaman’s local manning agency. Ship’s usually stay one, two, three, or more days in port so there is time for the seaman arrive there. Sometimes, there could be delays in which the crew arrives at the port first before the ship. in this case, the agent may book a hotel for him until the ship docks. Or, he could arrange for a small boat to send the crew to the ship waiting at the anchorage.

      Now for the disembarking seafarer whose contract has ended, the agent also prepares everything for his safe return to his country. In your example, if the seaman disembarks in Sydney, the ship’s agent will arrange a flight itinerary for him from there to California. All of these are specified in the contract and the seafarer need not to pay for these arrangements except if he buys something for himself.

      Regarding salaries, it’s very hard to quantify them since there are so many factors involved including the ones you mentioned and that in the blog post. Maersk and MSC has different types of vessels in their fleet and registered to different Flags working run by various crew nationality. For a salary scale of these companies, they could be from $3,000 to $5,000 for third mate and $9,000 to $15,000 for master per month. Could be more though depending on the nationalities.

      Salary differences may be treated as salary discrimination but its not the whole story. Salary range is based on the country’s standards of living, consumer, price index, etc. $2,000 per month is actually a huge sum in my country (Philippines) but for my European crewmates, EURO 2,000 may just be enough. But that doesn’t mean we have to settle for less since the paygrade is regulated and follows certain international rules. Even if ships under FOCs have lower pays, they are still approved by their government and labor organizations to make them more attractive, and may result in more ships flying under them.

  2. Markused

    Fair ba pasahod sa mga Pilipino? O mas bargain tayo para maraming mapasok na crew ang agency sa principal?

    • Gibi

      Merong binabasehan sir ang ILO kung paano icompute ang sahod. Kasama dito ang CPI, exchange rate, purchasing power, CBAs at consultation mula sa ating stakeholders. Malaki ang pasahod sa atin kung ikumpara sa karamihan na trabaho dito sa ating bansa pero mababa kung ikumpara sa western seafarers dahil kanilag standard of living.

      Kaya para sa mga shipowners na europeans at americans, bargain choice nila tayo at kina-capitalize lng natin ang opportunity na to. Yung mga sanning agencies, wla nman silang kontrol kung ilang tao kukuhanin nila since naghihintay lang sila ng advice sa principal.

  3. Mark Ensencio Bagas

    I’m still at my 3rd year as BSMar-E. Though I’m almost through with collage I still lack skills like welding. Because of covid, I missed my chance to practice those skills.

    If anybody here here could be so kind and in lighten me of your wisdom, it could be of great help for me and my future.

    • Gibi

      You can still practice welding and finish your college. Apply for a company and continue honing your welding skils as well as absorbing the learnings being taught to you.

  4. Joe

    A seven figure monthly salary would be between one million and ten million. Im pretty sure even the captain isn’t getting paid one million a month.

    • Gibi

      Hello thanks for pointing that out. Mea culpa. I made an edit to it.

  5. Oman Isaac

    Please I need a job as welder/fitter please help me to get job

  6. ezail

    tanong ko lang po . nasa magkano po ang salary ng isang o.s sa livestock carrier ?.

    • Gibi

      Sir di po ako pamilyar kung magkano kasi magkakaiba bigay ng bawat kumpanya pero nasa USD900.00 din seguro.

  7. Philip Roy Ragosta

    Pano po malaman if yung barko member ng amosup?

    • Gibi

      Sir good day. Tanungin nyo po ang company sir is amosup member sila.

  8. Ginalyn

    How can i know if the seaman is on board? Because me and my husband is separated.

    • Gibi

      You can contact POEA directly

  9. Maritess Bernardo Pesimo

    what if the seaman met an accident onboard? what will be the benefit that he can avail?

    • Gibi

      The seafarer is covered by an insurance depending on the extent and severity if the accident. His company usually pays for everything- medicines, operations and other fees associated with it until he is healed and fit to work again. In cases of total disability or death, he (or his family) can file for such claims and must ask further assistance to legal maritime professionals or union representatives. More information can also be found in his contract and CBA, if applicable.

      • Capt. Cirilo D. Pacheco

        Question: Pls be advised that in case the seaman, a Master had a heart attacked, hospitalized in abroad and repatriated in the Philippines then undergo angioplasty and recommended by doctor for observation until one year with a subscription of one year medicines. Is the seaman will claim a disability? If yes, what grade and compensation without CBA in contract. Pls reply. Thank you very much for kind attention.

      • Gibi

        You can directly ask for a disability claim to your manning agency. Tap also to various manning agencies; POEA, OWWA, DOLE for more guidance on that matter.


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