Age 31, considering a new career path

Was directed here via reddit!

Working in the entertainment industry. Started to feel it wasn’t the right path for me even before the outbreak. When I was younger I fancied the idea of becoming a merchant marine but for various reasons it just didn’t happen. Now I am willing to give it a serious shot. After things settle with Corona I would be very interested in pursuing an apprenticeship through the SIU program. Was curious if anyone here has gone through that program? Also I’m curious what job growth is like but want to hear from people within the industry. Tips, anecdotes and general advice/opinions would be much appreciated!


Nice! Have some savings and go for it. I left the beer biz to try and get a job on a tug. No luck yet, but been working consistently on ferries for a year. I had a bunch of commercial fishing experience too but its regardless been a real learning curve. Be prepared to take a pay cut for a while, but keep your focus and you’ll do fine. Take any work you can, too. Ferries, dinner cruises, whatever. It’s slow right now so might be a good time to get some schooling. This site has been incredibly valuable so be sure to search extensively for any questions. I’m hoping to start an apprenticeship program myself in the fall.

I’d also suggest messaging people here directly. Lots of great info and don’t be afraid to call companies and network. This business, in particular is all about connections it seems so keeping your name out there and active is definitely a positive. Prior to covid, had plenty of people willing to share their experiences/tour me on various tugs (that’s the route I wanna go)

I did a career change at 32 from the entertainment industry as well. I went to Seattle Maritime to get my QMED then started sailing. Check out my old posts back in the 2010 era. You want to go the engineering route or that other one?

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Reformedsailor has it about right. Times are slow,but runs in cycles. Not sure what the age limit is for SIU Apprentice program, if you haven’t already, go to their website and read the info carefully and in it’s entirety. That may answer some of the questions you have. If you apply and IF you get accepted, maybe by the time you finish , the jobs outlook may or may not improve. Be ready for a roller coaster. Not discouraging you in any way, just being as transparent as I can.

You could also look at an apprenticeship program where you could get a limited tonnage license in 2 years or an engineering license. You’d be working on the water sooner and get lots of hands on time but wouldn’t get a degree.
You could also check this JobCorps program in Oregon. You wouldn’t get a license but a good education at almost no cost.


Yes the engineering route!


There is no age limit on the SIU program.

I will have a look at this program! Looks interesting!

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No matter what age, do anything else.
Automated ships will put us all out of a job.

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I disagree with that Samat3. There are too many jobs that require skill and a human to operate that aren’t going to be performed by a robot/computer. Automated is coming, but on a much,much smaller scale than you think. Some one has to catch a line while going alongside, no matter how small or large the vessel is., Navigate huge tows on hairpin turns on Ohio and Mississippi rivers, maneuver around oil rigs and set anchors, run crew and supply boats, navigate narrow channels such as Houston and many others like it around the world. Will automation affect a few jobs, yes. I see it mainly on long voyages with ships from port to port. But for US Jones act trade, not so much. JMHO

MateChristine is giving good advice. You inferred interest in the SIU program, and great for starting out, but as she stated, there are other programs. MITAGS and AMO Star Center are at the top of my list. AMO and SIU will be less costly, but will require a commitment to their respective unions. Both offer rather inexpensive access to upgrading classes. Research all your options , you will figure it out. Apply to all, the line is not short.

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Where I’ve worked in Industry in the past, I’ve gotten to know several HR people. From what they have told me 27 is a good age for a young person to be taken seriously if he/she is quite bright. Otherwise 30 for a more average person. Just depending on what job they are being considered for. Their stated reason owed to the human brain being thought to be fully developed by 27.

Make of this whatever you will. But this is a time doors should be opening for you so try to find the best opportunity you can. Once you get there keep your eyes open for better opportunities after you get a years worth of experience. At this age you can change jobs
more easily and frequently…but those days will be numbered and you will need to be 9almost expected to be) setteling into something solid and stay with it.

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