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Professional Mariner

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Enjoy an exciting career while gaining experience and training to advance your mariner or personal credentials.

NOAA's fleet of 15 research ships operate world-wide in direct support of NOAA's diverse environmental information collection programs, environmental stewardship services and applied scientific research. NOAA ships are operated by a combination of NOAA commissioned officers and civilian professional mariners (wage marine job series). The ships' officers and crew provide mission support and assistance to embarked scientists from NOAA laboratories and the academic community.

NOAA regularly has openings for civilian mariners aboard NOAA research and survey ships. Professional mariner personnel include licensed masters, mates, and engineers, and unlicensed members of the engine, stewards, and deck department. Survey and electronic technicians operate and/or maintain the ship's mission, communication and navigation equipment.

Professional mariners are the backbone of the fleet, an integral part of achieving NOAA’s mission to understand the condition of the ocean and atmosphere. NOAA ships typically spend from 180 to 240 days at sea per year in support of NOAA’s objectives, which include nautical charting, bathymetric mapping, fisheries research, ecosystem assessments, marine environment baseline assessments, coastal-ocean circulation studies, and oceanic and atmospheric research.  As a professional mariner, you are expected, and counted on, to provide the specialized skills and technical expertise to make these projects successful, whether it is deploying scientific equipment, operating the propulsion plant, or prepping the food line.

Mariners have an excellent total compensation benefits package which includes health insurance (optional), life insurance (optional), paid annual leave, sick and shore leave, retirement plan, participation in the Thrift Savings Plan (similar to 401k).

Annual Leave

As a Federal employee, you will earn hours of leave per pay period, depending on years of service credited:

  1. Up to 3 years of Federal service, you will earn 4 hours of leave/per pay period.
  2. 3-15 years of Federal service, you will earn 6 hours of leave/per pay period.
  3. 15 or more years of Federal service, you will earn 8 hours of leave/per pay period.

Shore Leave

As an employee permanently assigned to a ship, you will earn an additional 8 hours of leave for every 15 days during the ship’s field season (period of availability). Employees assigned to the relief pool will qualify for shore leave credit days throughout their temporary ship assignment and during travel to and from the ship’s location.

Federal Employee Health Benefits

As a Federal employee, NOAA professional mariners can elect health insurance (approx. 20 plans to choose from) including family coverage as well as life insurance options, vision and dental coverage.

To view all benefit information, please visit the NOAA Workforce Management Office's website.

Effective July 14, 2021, OMAO is authorizing a recruitment bonus of up to $10,000.00 for eligible applicants for a two (2) year service commitment. 

Job Descriptions

Descriptions of the departments and positions are below:

Professional Mariner Positions Currently Open

How to Apply

You must be a U.S. citizen to be eligible for a NOAA civilian profession mariner job. To apply, please visit

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Reviewed: August 2, 2021. Contact us with page issues.

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