Navy Job: Ship's Serviceman (SH)

These sailors are like the shopkeepers of the Navy

Sailors man the rails on the USS Oak Hill
••• Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Ship's Servicemen (SH) are responsible for managing and operating all shipboard retail and service activities. These include the ship's store, vending machines, video games, barber shops, coffee kiosks, laundry and tailor shops. They make sure sailors can get their little creature comforts and services taken care of, which is a fairly significant factor in overall morale.

Despite the somewhat outdated job title, this rating (which is how the Navy refers to its career roles) is open to both male and female sailors.

If you have an outgoing personality, and strong customer service skills, this rating could be a good fit for you. Previous retail experience, while not required to qualify as a ship's serviceman, would be a definite plus. 

Duties of Ship's Servicemen

These sailors are inventory specialists, kind of like store managers and purchase agents. In addition to managing and operating retail and service activities while afloat, they procure and receive stock for the ship's store, and maintain the financial records and accounting systems. A big part of their responsibilities involves making sure there are enough items stocked in the ship's store before the ship deploys. 

Ship's servicemen also maintain inventory and procurement databases and act as cash collection agents, to ensure all items are paid for accordingly. If you've ever handled a cash register or managed inventory operations, these tasks will come easily to you.

SHs work in a variety of different environments including offices, ship's stores, barber shops, and laundry plants. The work is physical, but the wide range of jobs allows people to learn valuable retailing, marketing and shop management skills that will serve them well in the post-Navy civilian job market.

There will be ample opportunity to travel in this rating. 

Training and Qualifying as a Ship's Serviceman

Once you've enlisted, you'll train for the usual seven to nine weeks in boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois. Here you'll learn the fundamentals of serving in the Navy: conditioning, marching, weaponry and other related skills. 

Next, you'll spend 26 days in A-school training in Meridian, Mississippi to learn the ins and outs of this rating. A combined score of 96 on the verbal (VE) and arithmetic reasoning (AR) portions of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests. 

There's no Department of Defense security clearance required for this job. And as with any Navy rating, advancement opportunities will depend on the rating's staffing level; undermanned ratings have more opportunity for promotion than those which are overmanned. 

Sea/Shore Rotation for Ship's Servicemen

  • First Sea Tour: 60 months
  • First Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Second Sea Tour: 48 months
  • Second Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Third Sea Tour: 36 months
  • Third Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Fourth Sea Tour: 36 months
  • Forth Shore Tour: 36 months

Note: Sea tours and shore tours for sailors that have completed four sea tours will be 36 months at sea followed by 36 months ashore until retirement.