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Navy Quartermaster (QM): Career Details for 2023

A Navy quartermaster specializes in navigation, with a focus on mapping and charts, as well as using electronic navigation systems. 

Navy quartermasters work as assistants to the Officers of the Deck and the navigator. They may also perform ship control as helmsman, or serve watch on the bridge.

They also maintain the ship’s Deck Log, plot the ship’s position on charts, and maintain dead-reckoning of the ship’s position.

It’s a position with a lot of responsibility. 

The Navy QM rating should not be confused with the job of the Quartermaster in the Army. 

Logistics Specialist (LS) is the Navy rating dealing with logistics and supplies, equivalent to what used to be called an Army quartermaster. (In fact, even the Army has given this specialty a new name.)

navy qm
QM3 David Butler scans the horizon for contacts aboard the USS Stethem (DDG 63). (Source: U.S. Navy / MC2 Harper)

Quartermasters are one of the oldest jobs in the United States Navy, and one of only four that are still ratings in the modern Navy, along with Yeoman (YN), Gunners Mate (GM), and Boatswains Mate (BM).

The Signalman (SM) rating was merged with the QM rating in 2003.

Related ArticleNavy Yeoman (YN): Career Details

Quartermasters must obligate to a two or five-year active-duty enlistment.

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Requirements and Qualifications

To serve as a Quartermaster (QM) in the United States Navy, there are specific requirements which must be met:

  • Must be a US citizen.
  • Must be between the ages of 18 and 41.
  • Must have normal color perception.
  • Must have normal hearing.
  • Cannot have any speech impediment
  • Vision must correct to 20/20.
  • Must be able to meet all requirements to obtain a Secret security clearance.
  • Must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Must have an Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) score of VE (Verbal) + AR (Arithmetic Reasoning) = 100, OR, a score of VE (Verbal) + MC (Mechanical) +  MK (Mathematics) + GS (General Science) of 196 or better.

Training and Career Path

QMs, like all other Navy enlisted personnel, must successfully complete 10 weeks of Navy Recruit Training, at the Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes (RTC Great Lakes).

The Quartermaster A School is located in Great Lakes, Illinois, and is 9 weeks in duration.

At QM “A” school, sailors learn the fundamentals of navigation and oceanography through classroom and group instructions.

Upon graduation, new QMs should be able to conduct and log weather operations, compute tidal data, and determine a ship’s position both visually and using electronic instruments. 

Related ArticleNavy Boatswain’s Mate (BM): Career Details

What’s Life Like for a Navy Quartermaster (QM)?

Quartermasters assist the navigators and officers of the deck by standing watch, serving as helmsmen, and performing bridge watch duties. 

QMs also perform navigation and keep logs associated with the deck.

Quartermasters routinely work on a variety of tasks on a day-to-day basis. 

Their varied duties include:

  • Maintain navigational instruments.
  • Keep correct navigational time.
  • Manage and use oceanographic and navigational publications and oceanographic charts.
  • Send and receive visual messages
  • Render any “Honors and Ceremonies” In accordance with national observances and foreign customs.

They may also serve as petty officers in charge of propelled barges, tug boats, and other watercraft.

Quartermasters spend the majority of their workday on the ship’s bridge. This is usually a clean, air-conditioned space, suitable for the efficient operation of electronic equipment. 

Much of their work is problem-solving and mental analysis. Some of it, however, is simple records and chart management. 

While QMs mostly work as part of a team, individual projects are assigned, as well.

QMSN Ramses Jones observes the USS Arizona memorial from the signal bridge as the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) arrives in port Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (Source: US Navy / MC3 Votaw)

Navy Quartermaster (QM) Sea/Shore Rotation

Quartermaster is a sea-intensive rating.  QMs spend about 40 percent of their time on shore duty and 60 percent of their time assigned to a ship.

TourSea TourShore Tour
First Tour54 Months36 Months
Second Tour60 Months36 Months
Third Tour48 Months36 Months
Fourth Tour48 Months 36 Months
Fifth Tour36 Months36 Months
Sixth Tour36 Months36 Months
Seventh Tour36 Months36 Months

Like all the other Armed Services, the Navy bases a sailor’s pay on their rank and length of service.

InsigniaPay Grade RankAbbreviation2023 Minimum Monthly Pay
N/AE-1 +4 monthsSeaman RecruitSR$1,917.60
E-2Seaman ApprenticeSA$2,149.20
e-3 navy seamanE-3SeamanSN$2,259.90
petty officer third classE-4Petty Officer Third ClassPO3$2,503.50
petty officer second classE-5Petty Officer Second ClassPO2$2,730.30
petty officer first classE-6Petty Officer First ClassPO1$2,980.50
chief petty officerE-7Chief Petty OfficerCPO$3,445.80
senior chief petty officerE-8Senior Chief Petty OfficerSCPO$4,957.20
master chief petty officerE-9Master Chief Petty OfficerMCPO$6,055.50
command master chief petty officerE-9Command Master Chief Petty OfficerCMDCM$6,055.50
master chief petty officer of the navyE-9Master Chief Petty Officer Of The NavyMCPON$6,055.50

Like other service members, QMs may receive additional forms of compensation along with their base monthly pay.

This includes a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) for those authorized to live off base. There is also sea pay and other financial incentives. 

Related Article: Navy Height And Weight Standards

Job Reviews

The few reviews from current and former QMs gleaned from vary, but are mostly positive:

According to the Department of the Navy, there are about 2,300 men and women serving as Quartermasters in the Navy today.

QM1 Clarence Ilijic, left, teaches QMSN Eden Boyd how to operate a Brandon Type Stadimeter on the USS Rushmore (LSD 47). (Source: US Navy / MC2 Gray)

Civilian Career Opportunities

Quartermasters leaving the Navy will find opportunities with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) as well as opportunities with the United States Merchant Marines.

Sailors in the Quartermaster rating are encouraged to take full advantage of on-the-job training (OJT) opportunities, and educational opportunities offered and afforded to them during their naval service.

Related ArticleDishonorable Discharge: Reasons, Consequences, And More

The United States Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) also allows QMs to complete several apprenticeship requirements while on active duty.

Several national certifications, federal licenses, and state licenses are obtainable by sailors in the Quartermaster rating.

Related Federal Occupations include:

  • 1361 – Navigational Information Series
  • 1370 – Cartography Series
  • 1371 – Cartographic Technician Series
  • 5782 – Ship Operating
  • 9926 – Quartermaster

Note that these occupations may require additional experience, training, or education.

MCQM James Fox explains the concept of celestial navigation to Royal Australian Navy Sailors from the HMAS Canberra (L02) on vulture’s row aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). (Source: US Navy /MC2 McCulloch)

Young men and women considering the Navy, who possess a good working knowledge of arithmetic, an understanding of modern computing devices, and the ability to function well as a member of an integrated team, should consider the QM rating. 

The rating will afford you not only the opportunity to serve your country and see the world but will also teach you the skills and provide you the experience to face the civilian world after your life in the Navy. 


Find A Navy Recruiter

Official Navy Careers Page

U.S. Navy Personnel Command Quartermaster (QM) Overview

Navy COOL Summary For Quartermaster (QM)

U.S. Navy COOL Quartermaster (QM) Rating Card

Navy Quartermaster (QM) Reviews –

Travis R.

Originally posted on 08/26/19

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2 Replies to “Navy Quartermaster (QM): Career Details for 2023

  1. Photo shown with caption: QM1 Clarence Ilijic, left, teaches QMSN Eden Boyd how to operate a sextant on the USS Rushmore (LSD 47). The device the QMSN is holding in the photo is a ‘Brandon type stadimeter’ not a marine sextant. A stadimeter is used to measure the distance to an object of a known height.

    Master Chief Quartermaster (QMCM) (SW), US Navy (Retired).

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