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Inland River Deckhands perform physical labor aboard vessels and barges. Their day-to-day tasks can include making and breaking tow, standing watch, and cleaning the interior and exterior of vessels. Deckhands generally perform these tasks outdoors in all types of weather conditions.

Career Details


Students in Inland River Systems – Deckhand are trained in the following subject areas:

  • Learn and continuously practice safety as a condition for training and future employment.
  • Need a positive, can do attitude and be mature and accountable for your actions at all times.
  • Read and communicate clearly in English.
  • Respond positively to supervision, no excessive anger management issues.
  • Able to work 15 hours in a 24 hour period and/or work 42 hours in a 72 hour period.
  • Able to work 6 hours on, and 6 hours off twice a day for up to 30 days at a time with up to 12 other crew members aboard a vessel.
  • Ability to get along with cultures other than your own.
  • Be able to carry up to 85 pounds, exert 100-240 lbs. of force with various types of rigging, and climb stairs or ladders of up to 100 feet in height.
  • Work in both day and night environments and in all types of adverse weather.

Career Options

Graduates of this program often go on to become deckhands on an inland barge. With experience and time, they can be promoted to lead deckhand or senior deckhand.


Before entering the program, students must:

  • Have a state issued photo ID and either an original Social Security card or a certified birth certificate copy
  • No felony convictions
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Complete the core curriculum with passing scores on all written and performance tests.
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Have a valid driver’s license or no barriers to receiving a license while enrolled.
  • Meet strenuous physical requirements.
  • Pass a pre-employment drug test.


As a Job Corps student, you will have the opportunity to earn credentials in your training area that may lead to greater employment opportunities, higher wages, and promotions.

Students who complete a program in the Transportation training area can earn nationally recognized credentials and/or state licensure. Credentials such as these show that students have the skills and knowledge to work in transportation, logistics, and customer service.

Inland River Systems – Deckhand Numbers to Know


National average earning potential for this career


Months to complete career training program


While on the job, you will be expected to display the following traits at all times:

Attention to detail
Commitment to safety
Observational skills
Physical endurance

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