by GLORIA HILLARD
March 21, 2012 3:00 PM
Before sunrise, cargo ships and oil tankers from around the world start lining up for entry into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the busiest container handling complex in the nation. The giant ships cannot enter the port without the assistance of a harbor pilot, who boards the towering vessels in open seas. The average salary of harbor pilots nationwide is more than $400,000. But the highly-skilled pilots maintain they earn every dollar on a job that is often treacherous and unpredictable.