How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Longshoreman: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $27,840
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 5.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

A longshoreman is responsible for working at docks to unload and organize cargo shipments via ocean freight such that they are delivered securely to their destination.

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What is a Longshoreman?


A longshoreman is responsible for carrying out the following important duties:

  • Once a ship reaches the port, you must effectively operate bulk material handling equipment such as cranes, winches and hoists, to move containers off the ship and place them on the dock for the purpose of loading a rail car transport or vehicle.
  • Monitor and maintain various mechanical parts of conveyor belts, diesel pushes and other welding equipment.
  • Ensure compliance with all applicable government regulations and best practices of the industry with regard to security, record-keeping, goods storage, workplace professionalism, etc.

Day In The Life

As a longshoreman, your primary role involves utilising loading equipment like cranes or hoists to load and unload cargo containers and other shipments. In the case of outgoing cargo, they usually arrive by rail or truck, after which a longshoreman carefully moves the containers to the ship, and the same process in reverse is done at the destination port.

It is the job of you and your team to mark a wide range of cargo such as crates and boxes with the appropriate identification tags, while also keeping a close track of the containers moved either from or to ships that are using production logs. In your day to day operations, you will also pay attention to aspects such as whether a shipment is damaged or defective in the process of being transported.

Records are maintained meticulously for every single detail, either in logbooks or computer databases for keeping shipping and process documents in order. Once in a while, you will also be called upon to service and repair some pieces of heavy machinery used to shift cargo from ships. Sometimes, your job may overlap with a member of the cargo ship’s crew. For instance, you may be expected to work on the ship by your employer, while supporting the loading and unloading of cargo.

Work Schedule

If you are looking for steady hours on a job, this career path will not be the right fit for you. Longshoremen form a crucial part of the shipping and receiving industry, by putting in long hours amidst various weather conditions to move cargo containers at docks and ports. Typical hours range at approximately eight hour shifts, with overtime and weekend hours being common. This type of position requires you to be physically fit and be comfortable lifting and moving heavy objects on a frequent basis. You may also have to work at heights and be exposed to loud noise or dangerous equipment.

Growth Of The Job

The career prospects for professions like longshoremen is expected to rise by the rate of 15 percent until 2020, as fast as expected for other professions around the same time. You can eventually pursue career paths such as an equipment operator, a port operations specialist or cargo surveyor. With enough years as a longshoreman, you will be promoted to a managerial capacity. Available opportunities for aspiring candidates are influenced by variables such as the irregular schedules of cargo movement and the possibility of new hires in each collective bargaining unit.

Typical Employers

Longshoremen usually work at commercial harbors, docks and ports, ensuring that cargo from ships is loaded and unloaded in a timely manner. You will work in tandem with warehouses and other private companies involved in cargo transport like trucking companies.

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How To Become a Longshoreman

A high-school diploma or GED might be necessary to pursue a career as a longshoreman. Specific qualifications tend to vary based on the employer and region, however most positions will include on the job training. In some states, training is provided by a union that operates at the port, where foundational skills like using forklifts to repairing containers is taught by experienced professionals.

It is advisable to find out as much as possible about the way in which the shipping industry functions and how the job of a longshoreman can differ. Becoming familiar with shipping terminology will also be a step ahead for times when you are job hunting and have to converse with prospective employers. In terms of personal qualities, you should be in relatively great physical condition since the job requires you to be walking, climbing, lifting and bending extensively through a shift.

Longshoreman Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Longshoreman salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Longshoreman's can make an average annual salary of $27,840, or $13 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $20,270 or $10 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #731 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Longshoremans

  • 0.2%   Doctorate
  • 0.7%   Masters
  • 5.2%   Bachelors
  • 5.2%   Associates
  • 21%   College
  • 48.2%   High School
  • 19.6%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Longshoreman job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 125,100 jobs for a total of 2,566,400 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #434 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Longshoremans

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Temporary help services 435,500 74,800 75%
Warehousing and storage 190,200 9,200 9%
Department stores 80,200 -16,400 -16%

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