Advice for someone thinking about shipping out


I have been reading this forum and other sites, while entertaining the thought of becoming an A/B and going to the SIU school in Piney Point. I’m 41 yrs old and I know I’d be starting at the “bottom”. My small business here in Michigan has taken a turn for the worse, and there is a mortgage to pay. I have some questions for those of you in the “know” and would appreciate in advance any advice given. So here we go :

Q: I live in michigan, and wonder what the differences are between working on the great lakes, and working on the ocean, as far as a work schedule and pay, and conditions.

Q: How plentiful are A/B jobs ? what is the approx. salary I could expect for the first few years?

Q: Are there types of jobs or ships or companies I should avoid on my first job out ?

Q : How standard is the 3 month work / 3 month off schedule, is it non-existent or pretty much what to expect ?

Thanks again for ANY advice.


I haven’t seen too many Lakers on this forum… yet. But questions 3,4, & 5 I can take a shot at.

  1. I’ve seen AB’s working as Bosuns (supervisors) make as much as the 2/m (about $75,000). I’m not sure what a new watchstanding AB makes but I’d guess you could easily make over $50,000 if you’re willing to put in OT.

  2. I’d stay away from undermanned working ships my first go around just because you might piss off the other AB’s who will have to pull your weight.

  3. 3/3 is standard for anything domestic. If you work overseas expect to work 4/4. Offshore has a shorter schedule but many of its AB’s work more days on than they get off. On most ships you can usually work extra days but it’s hard to get off early.

Thanks for those words Guest…anyone else care to chime in ?



Regarding the Original Poster’s age, of 41 – is there generally a high cutoff age limit for hiring (newbie) into these jobs?


“is there generally a high cutoff age limit for hiring (newbie) into these jobs/”…THAT WOULD BE AGAINST FEDERAL LAW.

Go to work for MSC, Mostly Senior Citizens.

MSC has an open announcement for their <font face=“TimesNewRomanPSMT” size="2]Ordinary Seaman Advancement Program, </font>

<font size="2]it would be a good way into the industry if you can handle long seperations from home.</font>