Career Development

16 Able Seaman Skills for Your Career and Resume

Learn about the most important Able Seaman skills, how you can utilize them in the workplace, and what to list on your resume.

Able seamen are responsible for a variety of tasks on board a ship, from maintaining the vessel to operating the equipment. They need to have a wide range of skills to be successful in this career. If you’re interested in becoming an able seaman, it’s important to understand what skills are necessary for the job.

Able Bodied Seaman

Able-bodied seamen are able to perform all duties aboard a ship, including standing watch and working in the engine room. This requires physical strength and stamina, as well as the ability to work with your hands. You may need to climb rigging or ladders, operate machinery and move heavy objects.

Able-bodied seamen also have good balance and coordination so they can safely navigate ships through rough waters and other challenging conditions.


A ship’s crew is a team, and able seamen are expected to work well with others. You may be assigned to a watch team that works together for eight hours at a time. Your ability to communicate effectively and support your fellow crew members can help you succeed in this position.

You also need to work as part of the larger crew when performing duties such as cleaning or cooking. Being a good team member means being willing to pitch in wherever needed and following instructions from your superiors.


A lookout is a crew member who stands at the bow of a ship and watches for hazards, such as icebergs or other ships. Able seamen need to know how to navigate their vessel safely, so they should be able to identify landmarks and use navigation tools like compasses and charts. They also need to understand basic weather patterns and how they can affect the safety of the ship.


Flexibility is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. As an able seaman, you may be required to work different shifts or rotate through various positions on a ship. Being flexible can help you adjust quickly and perform your duties effectively. It’s also important to be flexible when it comes to learning new skills. You may need to change your study habits if you find that one method of learning isn’t working for you.

Rope Work

Rope work is the ability to tie knots and use ropes for various purposes. As an able seaman, you may need to know how to properly secure cargo or operate a crane. This requires knowing how to use ropes in different situations. You can practice your rope work by learning basic knots and practicing them on land before trying them at sea.


Leadership skills are important for able seamen to have, as they often supervise and train new crew members. Having strong leadership skills can help you motivate your team and ensure that everyone is working together effectively. You may also be in charge of leading the ship’s firefighting efforts if a fire occurs on board. Leadership skills include being able to give clear instructions, delegate tasks appropriately and maintain order when necessary.

Lifeboat Crew

Lifeboat crew is a skill that can help you advance in your career as an able seaman. This involves knowing how to operate and navigate lifeboats, which are the emergency rescue vessels on ships. You may need to know how to use these boats for search-and-rescue missions or firefighting duties.

You can also learn about safety procedures when using lifeboats, such as how to properly enter and exit them and what equipment they contain.

Deck Maintenance

Deck maintenance is the ability to repair and maintain a ship’s deck. This includes repairing or replacing damaged wood, cleaning stains from the deck and maintaining the safety of the deck by removing any potential hazards. Deck maintenance also involves performing repairs on equipment such as winches, mooring systems and other machinery that may be located on the deck.


The bosun is the person in charge of a ship’s deck crew. They are responsible for maintaining order and discipline on board, as well as ensuring that all equipment is properly maintained. A first mate may also be called the bosun when they are in charge of a deck crew.

Able seamen often work under the supervision of a bosun or first mate, so it’s important to have good leadership skills and an ability to follow orders. You can develop these skills by working with experienced crew members who can teach you how to lead others effectively.


Helmsman is the ability to navigate a ship using a steering wheel. Able seamen are expected to know how to steer their vessel and understand all of its controls. This includes knowing how to read nautical charts, which show where landmasses are located in relation to the ship. It also includes understanding how to use radar equipment, which shows the location of other ships and objects on the water.


Communication is the ability to convey information clearly and concisely. As an able seaman, you may be tasked with relaying messages between crew members or communicating instructions from a captain. Good communication skills can help ensure that everyone on board understands their roles and responsibilities. This can also reduce confusion and prevent accidents.

Anchor Watch

An able seaman’s ability to perform an anchor watch is necessary for safe navigation. Anchor watches are a combination of duties that include monitoring the ship, maintaining safety and security and ensuring the vessel remains in its designated location. An able seaman may be responsible for performing these duties while navigating through busy waterways or when entering port.


Navigation is the ability to use tools like a compass and GPS to find your way from one location to another. A deckhand on a ship needs to know how to navigate by sea, so they can steer their vessel in the right direction. Navigation also includes knowing how to read maps and charts, which are used for navigation at sea.

Problem Solving

Problem solving is the ability to identify and resolve issues. As an able seaman, you may need to solve problems that arise on board a ship. For example, if your vessel runs out of fuel, you might be responsible for finding a solution. This could involve using your navigational skills to find a nearby port or identifying another source of fuel.


A ship’s crew may change throughout the year, so it’s important for able seamen to be adaptable. They must learn how to work with new people and adjust their routines accordingly. Adaptability also helps them when they’re assigned a new task or are asked to take on additional responsibilities. Being able to quickly adjust to changing circumstances can help you advance in your career as an able seaman.


Firefighting is a necessary skill for able seamen to have, as they may be required to help fight fires on board ships. Able seamen should know how to use fire hoses and other equipment used in fighting fires. They also need to understand the importance of following safety protocols when there’s a fire so that they can keep themselves and others safe.

How Can I Learn These Able Seaman Skills?

There are a few ways that you can learn the skills that are required for an Able Seaman. One way is to join the military, as they will provide you with the training that you need. Another way is to join a maritime academy, where you will receive both classroom and on-the-job training. Finally, you can also get training through certain maritime organizations, such as the United States Coast Guard.


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