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.)
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 Article – Navy 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 Article – Navy 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.
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.
|Tour||Sea Tour||Shore Tour|
|First Tour||54 Months||36 Months|
|Second Tour||60 Months||36 Months|
|Third Tour||48 Months||36 Months|
|Fourth Tour||48 Months||36 Months|
|Fifth Tour||36 Months||36 Months|
|Sixth Tour||36 Months||36 Months|
|Seventh Tour||36 Months||36 Months|
How Much Are Quartermasters (QM) Paid?
Like all the other Armed Services, the Navy bases a sailor’s pay on their rank and length of service.
|Insignia||Pay Grade||Rank||Abbreviation||2023 Minimum Monthly Pay|
|N/A||E-1 +4 months||Seaman Recruit||SR||$1,917.60|
|E-4||Petty Officer Third Class||PO3||$2,503.50|
|E-5||Petty Officer Second Class||PO2||$2,730.30|
|E-6||Petty Officer First Class||PO1||$2,980.50|
|E-7||Chief Petty Officer||CPO||$3,445.80|
|E-8||Senior Chief Petty Officer||SCPO||$4,957.20|
|E-9||Master Chief Petty Officer||MCPO||$6,055.50|
|E-9||Command Master Chief Petty Officer||CMDCM||$6,055.50|
|E-9||Master Chief Petty Officer Of The Navy||MCPON||$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
The few reviews from current and former QMs gleaned from indeed.com 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.
Civilian Career Opportunities
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 Article – Dishonorable 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.
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.
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