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Longshore Workers (NOC 7451) may also be called:

  • longshoreman/woman
  • dockworker
  • dock hand
  • wharf worker
  • ship loader operator
  • stevedore
  • tanker loader
  • marine cargo lumper
  • loader, barge / boat / tanker
  • stower

What Would I Do?

Longshore Workers transfer cargo throughout dock area and onto and from ships and other vessels. Your duties may include:

  • operate industrial trucks, tractors and other mobile equipment to transfer cargo (such as containers, crated items, automobiles and pallet-mounted machinery) around dock and within the range of cranes and hoists
  • operate winches or other hoisting devices to load and unload cargo onto and from ships and other vessels
  • operate mechanical towers to load vessels with materials such as coal and ore
  • operate equipment to transfer bulk materials, such as grain, to the hold of vessels
  • connect hoses and operate equipment to transfer liquid materials into storage tanks on vessels
  • perform other activities such as lashing and shoring cargo aboard ships, opening and closing hatches, cleaning holds of ships and rigging cargo

More information:

Am I Suited For This Job?

Longshore Workers should have:

  • good spatial perception; the ability to recognize distance or depth
  • good hand eye coordination
  • good vision
  • good hearing

They should be:

  • physically fit & strong
  • able to do shift work

Longshore workers are outdoors in various weather conditions; they work on docks around cranes and towers; they work with heavy equipment, instruments, and machinery.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Longshore Workers

What Are The Wages And Benefits?

In British Columbia, the average annual salary for Longshore Worker ranges from $66,000 – $95,000. According to WorkBC, hourly wages can range from $18.50 – $50.00. In BC’s regions, longshore workers can expect to make:

Regional Hourly Wages for Longshore Workers

Table from Job Bank Canada
Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Longshore Workers

What Is The Job Outlook In BC?

WorkBC reports that for the period 2014-2024, the average annual growth rate of employment will increase. The expected annual demand growth rate will be 0.8% across the province. In BC’s regions, the growth rate will range from 1.4% annual increase on Vancouver Island/Coast region, to 1.3% in North Coast/Nechako region and to 0.7% in Vancouver/Lower Mainland.

job outlook for longshore workers 

JobBank Canada reports that for the 2014-2016 period, the employment outlook is expected to be good for Longshore Workers (NOC 7451) in British Columbia.

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile for Longshore Workers, Job Bank Canada, Employment Outlook

How Do I Become a Longshore Worker?

In BC, there is no certification required to work as a longshore worker. However, secondary school graduation is usually needed, especially in order to advance to foreman/forewoman or supervisory positions.

  • the recruitment process for general longshore employees is determined by the needs of each port and represents the first step by which workers enter the dispatch system.
  • applications for recruitment for general longshore work are accepted only as needed by each individual Local of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union – ILWU
  • after the ILWU accepts applications, it supplies them to the BCMEA – BC Maritime Employers Association. The ILWU and BCMEA conduct recruitments.
  • after recruitment, as a “new hire” you are assigned “casual” status with the ability to pickup casual shifts from a local Dispatch Hall. You will start with general longshore work.
  • while working as casual, you may be trained on a variety of equipment or in specific skill sets required to load and unload cargo.
  • you may be “casual” for up to ten years and working part time shifts before progressing to sworn union member of the ILWU.

Minimum requirements:

  • Canadian citizen or landed immigrant (permanent resident).
  • proficient in speaking and writing English
  • good eyesight and excellent color and peripheral vision
  • candidates must pass a comprehensive medical exam and be able to complete an industry related physical fitness test
  • candidates must have sufficient valid identification to secure a Facility Access Pass (Port Pass); they may also require a Marine Transport Security Clearance (MTSC)

Source: BC Maritime Employers Association: Requirements for Employment and Recruitment

How Do I Find A Job?

Where would I work?

  • marine cargo handling companies
  • shipping agencies
  • shipping lines

Finding Advertised Jobs

Longshore jobs are only posted for individuals who are already active longshore workers (either “casual” or “union members”).

Online Job Postings

All longshore workers are hired only through Locals of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU). You may find some job postings that use skills related to longshore work, for example, in heavy equipment operation, inventory management, and other industrial and shipping-oriented occupations. Look for jobs such as ‘dock work’, ‘forklift driver’, ‘crane operator’ or ‘shipping’ in these sources:

Finding “Hidden Jobs”

Many job vacancies are not advertised. The resources below help you with finding jobs in this “hidden” job market.

Using Directories to Create a List of Potential Employers

You can use company directories to produce lists of employers who are in this industry. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

All longshore workers are hired only through Locals of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU); you may find some jobs for ‘dock work’ or other related work (e.g. container loading) in these sources:

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “marine cargo handling” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Networking, Volunteering and Temporary Agencies

Although all longshore workers are hired only through Locals of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), volunteering may help you in the ILWU’s recruitment process. Networking, working as a volunteer or registering with a temporary employment agency are good ways of helping you find jobs and meet people in your industry. Look for volunteer work that uses skills related to longshore work, for example, heavy equipment operation, inventory management, and other industrial and shipping-oriented occupations

Networking and the Hidden Job Market:

When looking for work, be sure to talk to friends, relatives and neighbours. Working as a volunteer is a good ways to gain “Canadian experience.”

Volunteer opportunities

For additional tips see:

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience. Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

For more information see:

Where Can This Job Lead?

With the right kind of experience and enough years working on the docks, longshore workers may progress into positions as ‘foreman’ or ‘head foreman’.

Where Can I Find More Information?