Best steps to a new career

I am 45 years old and want to reinvent myself. I am Canadian and was raised in the Gulf of the St Lawrence. I am 25 years in a stress filled banking/investment related role; I have top education and am at the peak of my career. It is time to do something different and I have my Wife’s full support! We have a home in 1000 islands NY USA. I want to become a pilot and move to 1000 islands NY USA. I understand I need lots of education and training; I ain’t scared of that. Question #1 - Can I attend a USA school and work in USA? Question #2 - Which school do I go to?

You want to be a pilot…and you are just starting out at 45? Hate to be a downer here, but it may be a little late in the game.

45, and not already licensed and operating in the region?

Stick to what you are doing.

thank you

i feared that may be the answer

If you are of the means financially downsize your life significantly and retire early. Buy a boat, cruise around at your own leisure.

yeah - i hear ya - gotta keep busy though…i think i wld go crazy without responsibility…plus - Wife does not want me around all the time…it ain’t about money…gotta die satisfied…this was my plan when i was 20 cruising the eastern seaboard (Halifax to New Orleans)…then 25 years passed…

With the current shape of the industry you would be cleaning toilets and working on deck for a long time, not exactly a lot of responsibility. Then when it comes to being a pilot many of the organizations have age limits for starting an apprenticeship. They don’t want to invest the time in training someone who will only be with the organization for a decade or useful time.

If you want to start over I would still say downsize as much as you can, one house, no expensive cars, minimal bills, and find yourself work in the Canadian maritime industry as crossing over into the American industry will tricky at best with citizenship requirements.
I just wouldn’t plan on being a pilot, ferry captain, tourboat capt, etc. anywhere else it will just take too long to advance to any level of responsibility.


Although it is usually fairly easy for a Canadian to come to the US and work, but much harder for an American to work in Canada, there are some substantial legal obstacles to what you have in mind.

First, only American citizens (not green card holders) can be USCG licensed as merchant marine officers, including as ship pilots. It would take you five years plus to become a US citizen. It would probably take you three years of full time college in the US to qualify to sit for a license. Then you would need considerable seagoing experience to be a viable canadate for membership in a pilot’s association.

Although it would be time consuming, it would probably be much more practical for you to become a pilot in Canada.

if you have some capital to invest, there are many marine related companies of various sizes in the US and Canada that could benefit from your capital and talents. Marinas, yacht brokers, yacht charters, marine surveyors, marine construction and dredging, boat repair, tugboats, passenger boats, in either or both the US and Canada, are all things that you might want to consider. Especially if you can qualify for a US investor visa.

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Appreciate the reality check - plan B is buying a barge - deliver equipment to the islands…with “money at risk” I can pay my own health insurance in 30 days…thank you…

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You’ll want to think bigger than just a barge, you’ll want an entire business that is already established and you can learn the ropes from employees already there.

You’ll still need to be licensed to run whatever vessel it may be, landing craft, tug and barge, and that requires time.

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Thank you. I clearly am not on the right path. Yes, “money at risk - visa” is a shorter path - just gotta find the right business. If anyone knows of something on The River…pass it along…thank you.

I suggest that you Scruton Marine in Port Dover. They do a lot of business on both sides of the border.

I suggest high speed, near coastal ferries as your best fit. Small tonnage officer licenses are not that hard to obtain, if you put in the time, definitely not in the US. Not sure about Canada.

Ditto on what plenty of people mentioned, so this reply will be focused just on the Academy part. Quite some time ago, a co-worker who was French-Canadian did attend and graduate from Maine Maritime. Now he did not get a USCG license, he did get other appropriate licenses.

A friend my own age did go to Cal Maritime later in life, but he was in his early thirties back then, and I’ve heard of a couple others likewise, but 45 would be pushing it a bit much I think to go the full academy route.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s true. License classes still take up a lot of credits, so transfer credits don’t get you very far other then knocking off math and English classes. Also you’re required, afaik, to be “[in a regimented program for at least 3 years.]” or something along those lines.

If you are not a United States citizen, the only license you can hold is Operator of Uninspected Vessels (OUPV, aka “6-pack”). All other mariner licenses require U.S. citizenship.

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Move to a tropical island and open a barge bar, or maybe get a smaller license (such as 50 or 100 ton master) and work for a water taxi - cannot go wrong either way.

Investment banker/bean counter is tired of raping the industry and now wants to do a “honorable” job as a ship PILOT so he can “have responsibility”, not because he needs a good profession to earn a living. Also, has no idea what is involved to become a harbor/bar PILOT, let alone get a masters license…and ya’ll on this forum don’t chastise, but instead give friendly advice? LOL!

The OP is coming from the bankers that ya’ll hate!

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Never been any hate on bankers in this forum.

Actually nice to see some credible answers to this man’s questions for once. Thanks for shitting on this thread!

That said TShannon, being a deck officer even on a small ferry is way more stress than being a banker. What’s a bad day for you? Losing a few million and getting your ass chewed out by the boss? Being fired?

A bad day for us is having destroyed a vessel worth up to 10’s of millions of dollars, even a billion for some if you think about a drillship, somebody gets injured or killed, the environment has been destroyed, and I’m now going to jail for a long time and have huge fines to deal with. Plus now I’m all over the newspapers all over the world and despised by all. All while I was asleep in my bunk.

That’s not taking in account the dozens of spinning plates that an officer have to keep track of on a normal day to keep things running smoothly.

This is not the job one goes to looking for less stress.

As others have said if you like being on the water, best thing is to just downsize, buy your own boat and sail at your leisure.

If you’re still set on doing this, I think SUNY has a master program for guys to get their 3rd mate, engineer, but again you would have to deal with all citizenship requirements for a USCG license.

Your best bet would be to get your MMD stuff from the Canadian Government and go be a deckhand on a tug for a year and decide if this is really what you want to do. Scrubbing toilets and busting rust can help put things in perspective.