What Does a Bargee Do?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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A bargee is a person who works on a barge, which is a type of flat-bottomed boat used for hauling large amounts of cargo. The specific job function of a bargee can vary significantly depending on what type of crew member he or she is; bargees may be managers or entry-level crew members that perform manual labor. All barges will have numerous barge workers on board at any given time; they will work on the boat well before it leaves port to ensure the barge is loaded properly and prepared for its voyage.

Before the barge leaves port, it must be loaded properly, which can take anywhere from several hours to several days. A bargee may work on the boat before it leaves port to get cargo on board and secured properly. The ship will also need to be stocked with other items such as food and medical equipment, and a bargee may be responsible for such tasks. The length of the trip will often determine how much equipment and supplies are necessary, as well as how many barge employees will be necessary for the trip. Some barge employees may be responsible for a thorough inspection of the ship before it leaves port as well to ensure it is properly prepared for the voyage.


Once the ship is underway, the bargee may be responsible for a number of different jobs. Some may work on a kitchen crew that is responsible for preparing and serving meals, while others may be responsible for maintaining and servicing the engines of the ship. Still others may be responsible for simply cleaning the ship or attending to spills or other accidents. A bargee might work on the captain's deck and work as an assistant to the captain, though these workers are not always called bargees.

No specific level of education is necessary to become a bargee, but in some cases, specialized training may be necessary. Working as a mechanic onboard the ship, for example, or operating any of the cranes or other heavy machinery, may require special training. Sometimes an apprenticeship is necessary in order to train bargees for specific tasks; this apprenticeship can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years, depending on the complexity of the task and the overall career goals of the barge worker. The payscale can vary as well; entry-level barge workers will often start at a lower pay level, while more experienced bargees will get better pay and, in some cases, health and retirement benefits.


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