What is the Difference Between Captain and Skipper?

Have you ever watched a movie where there were boats and heard the terms ‘Captain’ and ‘Skipper?’ If you have then you’re definitely not alone.

These are two common terms when referring to boating of any type, though the words can often be used without knowing what they really mean. In fact, sometimes they’re used interchangeably. And sometimes you may hear them used but not really know what they mean. So, let’s take a look.

What is the Difference Between Captain and Skipper?

The Captain of a ship is the person who is set to command the ship, usually in regards to a large ship. On the other hand, the Skipper is also in charge of commanding the ship but usually in regards to smaller ships and boats.

While both of these terms refer to the same position on a boat, they’re usually not used for the same type of boat. Still, there are a number of situations where the terms might be used interchangeably.

You may hear a ship’s Captain called the Skipper because the role is relatively equal. In some instances, the Skipper is the person in charge of the ship or boat while the Captain is in charge of the entire crew and everything that is happening on the boat.

Why Do They Call Captains Skipper?

The Captain is likely called the Skipper because many feel these two terms mean the same thing. After all, the Captain of the boat is the person in charge and the Skipper is the master of the ship. Because these two things sound so similar they are used the same way often.

Captain and Sipper are often used to mean the same thing even though they’re not exactly the same. The Captain is in charge of the crew and everything happening on the boat. They are in command of the ship, while a Skipper is in charge of the ship alone rather than anyone that is actually on it.

Also, a Captain is usually used on a larger ship while a Skipper is used on a smaller ship. Even still, all but the most professional of crews will often use these terms to mean the same thing. And neither will likely be offended by being called by the other title.

Is Skipper a Real Name?

Skipper on its own is generally not a name, though it has been used that way for boys. It’s an English term that’s actually used to refer to a specific position on the crew of a ship. The Skipper is the person who is in charge of the ship.

If you’ve ever seen the show Gilligan’s Island you’ve likely heard one of the characters referred to as ‘Skipper.’ This wasn’t actually his name, but was his role on the ship. It was used as a nickname throughout the series, however.

That’s probably where the idea of ‘Skipper’ as a name came from and some boys have had this name given to them over the years. In general, however, it’s used to refer to a position on the ship’s crew rather than the actual name of a person. But if you hear someone being called skipper when they’re not on a ship you may want to ask.

What Does it Mean When Someone Calls You Skipper?

When you are called ‘Skipper’ it usually means that you are the master of the ship. This term is also used as a slang term occasionally to refer to someone who is very wealthy, usually a male. There are some who actually have the name ‘Skipper’ and so it could also be used to refer to someone by name.

Being called ‘Skipper’ could have a number of different meanings. It’s usually going to take a little more context to know what the person meant when they called you this.

If you are or act like a wealthy person they may use it as a slang term, especially if they are not considered a peer. For those on a ship, however, being called Skipper usually means that you are the master of the ship or that the person believes you are.

How Much Does a Skipper Make?

In the United States a Skipper will typically make about $37 per hour. This comes out to roughly $76,584 per year. This will depend on the type of company they work for and the type of boat that they are responsible for as well. It may also depend on how long they’ve been in the business.

A skipper could make as little as $39,000, depending on where they work and what kind of boat they work on. This would be the bottom 10% of skippers in the country. On the other hand, those who are in the top 10% could make upwards of $148,000 per year. Keep in mind that larger companies are going to pay more and the skipper will be in charge of a larger ship. There may be other responsibilities as well.

The Captain of a boat could make between $56,000 and $84,000 on average, and with Captains and skippers often being referred to interchangeably you may want to make sure of the pay scale if you’re looking to start on as either of these positions. While the Captain generally works on a larger vessel, that doesn’t mean that they always earn more and in fact, their average pay can be less.


A ship’s Captain or a skipper is going to be the person that’s in charge of what’s going on. While you typically won’t find both on the same boat, you will want to know who is the person in charge at any given time. In most cases, smaller boats will have a skipper in charge and larger boats will have a Captain. But make sure you talk with the crew to find out who is the person in charge and what their title is. This will make it easier to reach out to them if you need them.

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