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Stevedore: Job Description and Information About Becoming a Stevedore

The job title of stevedore is used synonymously with many other career titles including longshoreman, dock worker, and ship loader. The main job a stevedore does is to load and unload ship cargo efficiently and safely. Read on to learn more about the requirements and benefits of this occupation.

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Career Definition

Stevedores are responsible for loading and unloading a ship's cargo and must follow the ship's plan to ensure that cargo is loaded and unloaded correctly. He or she may use a crane or forklift to move large cargo containers to and from trucks and other ships. A stevedore may also be required to perform basic clerical duties and to moor and unmoor vessels upon arrival and departure. A stevedore spends most of his or her workday outside, performing physical labor in all weather. Stevedores are only employed in areas that have working docks, so candidates for this occupation are limited by geography.

Becoming a Stevedore

Required Education

You don't need formal education to work as a stevedore, but will probably receive on-the-job training. Regulations vary by state, but certifications and licensing may be required for operating the large machinery stevedores sometimes use.

Required Skills

A stevedore works in a potentially dangerous environment and must consider safety above all else. Good organizational and communication skills are important, along with the ability to read and follow written plans. The work schedule of a stevedore can be irregular and the hours sometimes long, so a willingness to be flexible in this regard is required.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reports that job opportunities for tank car, truck and ship loaders are predicted to grow by about 3% between 2012 and 2022, which is slower than average. In May 2012, the BLS recorded the median hourly earnings for tank car, truck, and ship loaders at $21.20, and noted that workers who provide support activities for water transportation, like stevedores, hold more jobs than other kinds of material movers.

Alternate Career Options

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver

High school graduates can learn skills for transporting goods from one geographic location to another by attending a course for professional truck drivers. A commercial driver's license is typically required for this occupation. Average employment growth of 11% was anticipated by the BLS for these positions from 2012-2022. In 2012, they earned an annual median salary of $38,200, according to the BLS.

Construction Laborer and Helper

Although these positions may be learned through on-the-job training, some individuals complete training programs or classes offered through vocational schools, community colleges or associations. These workers perform basic tasks in and around construction sites, and they earned an annual median wage of $29,160 in 2012, per the BLS. During the 2012-2022 decade, the BLS expected faster-than-average job growth of 25% for construction laborer and helper positions.

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