Backround long story short. I have been a teacher since graduating college. No strings attached now, just parents and brother, no kids wife etc. I finished my courses for oupv and master license and am confident I will qualify for 50ton near coastal at least. Along with towing endorsement and the courses for my STCW already completed.
Recently, the idea of joining ISU in Fort Lauderdale has become very appealing to me. I want the high level, intense, real deal experience ships and various duties provide to become the best seaman possible. and personally at the moment, having nothing holding me to land, along with several other solid thought out reasons I believe merchant Mariner would be just perfect for me at 32 years old changing careers from education but with significant amount of experience doing all kinds of work on the water from deck hand on a tug with a 150ft barge behind navigating the Miami river and off shore jumping from tug to runners and back, working winches, keeping watch, wiper duties basically as well, to legal bare boat charters of all kinds, barge operator for restaurant barges, sport fish mate in world class tournaments etc. I just love being at sea, sword fishing for days at a time on a center console 30 miles off shore and fishing the canyons up north on a 20 foot Grady for 3-7 day trips have been some of the times I felt my most present, happy, and “alive.” Im well aware of the work load involved with being a Mariner, no problem working , 50 hours a week to me is a light week.
I’m waiting on TWIC card and want to learn more about requirements in Merchant Mariner field as I am weighing my options, which are many. From tow boat to charters of all different kinds, ferries , there’s just so much in South Florida where I could earn well and lead a “normal” life. Like I said previously, the prospect of working on a ship of that caliber, the variety of positions aboard, ability to stack up sea time past boundary line with serious tonnage and just getting away for a few years at least with decent time off in between to me or stacking, I think would be perfect right now. I really am genuinely interested in this career path.
I have been researching, watching videos, etc and everyone seems to say a maritime academy of one kind of another is necessary. Is this the case if I already possess sea time for masters license, Past the courses, have my stcw, etc? Would it be possible to make officer without academy? If so what would the process be? Clearly getting mmc, I see the check box for AB I would qualify for I believe. Is there an exam for that in addition to masters captain/mate exams and courses? Would I start as OS or AB? Or would having the masters endorsement even though for smaller tonnage boost me at all?
Also, I see numbers that are all over the place every where I look and in every different video. I know allot depends on ships over time, hazard pay etc. What should I reasonably expect monthly for different positions I can get into?
when I was at MTI for the Stcw courses several guys there were currently on ships renewing or in the union and my age just starting out but have been on a few already. They told me all I need is the stcw courses we were taking and my basic mmc to join union and they are kind of desperate for solid guys after covid. I have no problem working my way up, but is it possible and timely to do so and will my added licenses have any bearing?
any and all wisdom, info more than appreciated.