Careers on Cruise Ships

Jan 17, 2020

Cruise ships offer many career options for those wanting to work on a cruise ship that vary in education requirements. Learn more about some cruise ship careers, salary information, and job growth.

Career Options for People Who Want to Work on Cruise Ships

Since cruise ships are at sea for many days at a time and offer a variety of services, workers from various educational backgrounds are needed. Take a look at some of the occupations that are available on cruise ships.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Captain $69,180 -2% (Decline)
Hairdresser $24,730 8%
Physician $200,890 7%
Photographer $34,000 -6% (Decline)
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors $39,820 13%
Security Guard $28,490 4%
Chefs and Head Cooks $48,460 11%
Musician or Singer $28.15 per hour 0% (little or no change)
Human Resources Manager $113,300 7%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for People Who Want to Work on Cruise Ships


Like any other ship or water vessel, a cruise ship needs a ship captain. Captains are put in charge to steer the cruise ship and supervise the crew. They take time to visit with passengers, along with keeping records and following safety procedures. There normally isn't any formal education required to become a captain, however an endorsement certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard is normally required along with a Transportation Worker Identification Credential.


Many times on a cruise ship, men and women like to get their hair cut and styled. Hairdressers can work on a cruise ship, just as they work on land. They cut, color, style, and wash customers' hair. Hairdressers should have completed a state-approved cosmetology program and secured a barber or cosmetology license by passing an exam.


Anything can happen on a cruise ship, including injury and illness which is why a physician is important to have onboard a cruise ship. Physicians use a patient's medical history to help test and diagnose injuries or illnesses that have occurred. They develop a plan for treatment and care. Physicians must have completed an undergraduate program, medical school, and three to seven years of a residency or internship program.


Since many people are on vacation while on a cruise ship, many of them would appreciate the fact that there is a photographer onboard. Photographers advertise their services to find clients, photograph clients, and provide high quality photo editing. Photographers can provide passengers with an easy way to capture their adventures on their vacation. Postsecondary education is not normally necessary, though some employers may want to see an applicant with a bachelor's degree or portfolio.

Fitness Trainer and Aerobics Instructor

Many people like to keep up their fitness routines while on vacation, even on a cruise ship. Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors can help with that by providing passengers with exercises and recreational activities. They ensure passengers are safely completing the workouts and give emergency aid as needed. These workers need to have a high school diploma and normally need a bachelor's degree or certification.

Security Guard

Security guards are normally used on cruise ships to help enforce rules and prevent problems from occurring. They help to prevent criminal activity and arrest those who violate the rules. Most employers require a high school diploma, while others do not have any educational requirements.

Chefs and Head Cooks

Chefs and head cooks are needed on a cruise ship to help feed the many passengers aboard. Chefs supervise other cooks in preparing fresh ingredients, plan menus, keep up with inventory, and develop recipes to use. They also ensure the kitchen is up to safety and sanitation standards. While there are normally not any education requirements, most chefs and head cooks attend culinary art schools or 4-year colleges.

Musician or Singer

Entertainment is always found on a cruise ship, so musicians or singers can find a career onboard a ship. Musicians perform for audiences on a cruise ship by singing or playing different instruments. They might have a few shows or concerts during the trip, as well as singing or playing during meals. There are normally no education requirements for those performing music.

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers oversee the employees, activities, and issues in an organization. Since a cruise ship has employees to manage, activities to plan, and disputes, human resources managers are needed on a cruise ship. They also hire and support employees that are working on the cruise ship. A bachelor's degree and work experience is required to become a human resources manager.

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