Canada’s Best Jobs 2014: Longshore Worker

Back from the doldrums

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longshore worker

A longshore worker takes a break in front of a bulk carrier. (Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty)

Median Salary: $70,720
Change in salary (2007–2013): +30%
Total employees: 4,500

To become a longshore worker, you don’t need to attend a college or university program, as the required training for the job happens mostly while you’re doing it. However, in order to become a well-paid member of the Canadian chapter of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (which represents workers on the west coast), you’re going to need to put in several years of part-time work in a heavily fluctuating industry. On the east coast, you’ll be looking to join the International Longshoremen’s Association.

How to qualify: The minimum required education is a high school diploma. As you work towards becoming a union member though, you need to work on your ratings, says Steve Nasby, the second vice president of the ILWU’s Canadian chapter and a longshore foreman with over 30 years’ experience on the job. The more jobs you try your hand at (and longshore workers can be doing anything in a given week from being on the ships, to dock work, to operating heavy machinery), the more you diversify your skill set. The more often you try your hand at various jobs, the higher your ratings get.

Money: As mentioned above, a member of the ILWU can do quite well for themselves on a yearly basis. Nasby says senior union members can usually make anywhere from $80,000 to $130,000 a year (if you’re taking every job you can get). However, in order to get to that stage, you have to put in many years building up your seniority.

Outlook: Between 2008 and 2010, longshore workers experienced a high degree of unemployment, according to Employment and Social Development Canada. However, the government has projected excess demand for longshore workers (grouped in with “material handlers”) into 2020, with a greater number of positions available than those seeking work – good prospects for anyone looking to get into the industry.

What it’s Like: The day-to-day life of a new longshore worker can be tough, says Nasby. “In the beginning it’s extremely hard to get work.” The shipping industry is dependent on both the global economy (2008 and 2009 were tough years) and, on a more individual level, the simple fact of whether or not there’s a large ship in the harbour to be unloaded on a given day. The amount of work to go around varies throughout the week, and often new workers have to balance their longshore job with another part-time position for several years since they are low on the seniority scale. Having made his way through those tougher early years though, Nasby says he loves his job.


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5 comments on “Canada’s Best Jobs 2014: Longshore Worker

  1. Hi,iI would like to apply for this job,could you help me to apply,btw Im from Kosovo does it mind anything.
    I have worked here a while with this kind of job but conditions and the salery isn`t enough,so when I sow this job offer i thought i could be my chance,so please take this in considerate and help me.
    Im 24 years old,im hardworker and quick learner,im instand to work overtime.please feedback.

    Reply

    • Hi, To accept any available job offers which will meet my qualification and improve my skills acquired soon previous work experience. , i would like to apply for this jobs you offer and i’m interesting ..quick learning.. i’m hard worker … how can I apply this work help me…I’m 23 years old…can you massage by email to apply this one work…

      Reply

  2. Hi,i would like to apply with this kind of job, i’ve been working in tsuneishi heavy industry(a ship building company) for almost 4yrs as a hull fabricator. a cargo ship, thesame in the picture.can you help me work in there..?please e.mail me..thank you

    Reply

  3. Great job I heard but its very hard to get in.u need an application thru a union member,that is the only way.u can not apply on line.

    Reply

  4. I would like to work with long sure in the office but I need a help.i heard without knowing someone great in the company, you can’t get a job so basically it’s a family kind a business. Company hires only a family members.
    please let me know what us the truth is.

    Reply

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