Career Advice Academy or Apprenticeship? (Engine)

I’ve got a possible apprenticeship opportunity with AMO’s Star Center TECH program for engine license. Will take about 2 years to complete. No debt. Free tuition and small salary? But no degree.

On the other hand, I’m accepted at great lakes academy for engine license. Will take 3-4 years. Will have 50k+ student loans. But I will have a bachelors in Marine Technology.

I like the apprenticeship but I’m afraid I won’t get a job if I go shoreside at some point because of lack of degree.

Is a degree in bachelors of science in Marine Technology even worth it?

Do I need a degree for shoreside jobs after sailing 2-10 years as an assistant/chief engineer?

Or will experience be enough for jobs like facilities management, port engineer, power generation?

My plan is to sail at least 5 - 10 years before going shoreside.

It makes the most sense to get the degree in 3 years. You’ll be able to pay out off your student debt easy.
For higher paying shoreside jobs, you’ll most likely need a degree and experience. A degree while not as valuable as it used to be- without it many companies won’t even consider you.
Plans always change. You might say you want to sail 5-10 years now but life changes and you might be kicking yourself for not having that degree in your back pocket.

I didn’t go to GLMA but it’s completely possible to graduate a Maritime Academy in 3 years if your classes are set up right.


That is the sad truth. Knew an electrical supervisor on an oil rig who applied for an electrical maintenance job ashore that he was over qualified for and got kicked out of their automated screening right away because he didn’t have a degree. To keep your options open, get the degree.


That really depends on who is on the other side evaluating you experience/education. Is the Marine Tech degree ABET?

If you want an engineering degree, and want to be a shore side engineer, then going to a real engineering is the best bet. But engineering is hard, and over 50% usually drop out. What is real engineering? Well, it would be one that is well known for it’s research and large amount of extracurricular activities.

I’d say do the apprentice AMO program for free, and take night classes at community college towards an ABET engineering degree. You’ll come out the other side with the broadest skillset.

However, if you want to be a plant operator or maintenance manager, it’s a different pathway. And times are changing…many companies will waive degrees and accept direct relevant experience.

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I am leaning towards getting my degree. you are right that I might not even sail for that long and the degree will give me flexibility. i might join the coast guard’s MARGRAD program as a last resort.

damn that’s actually my worry. algorithmic screening. thanks for the insight. i am leaning towards the academy now.

the degree is not ABET certified. my shoreside goals are not to be a design engineer but more like plant operator/facilities manager/hospital generator person? lol im not sure what they are called. or basically anywhere where an assistant/chief engineer’s skills might apply.

Then the free apprentice program and getting on a ship ASAP is probably the best value of your time and money.

It’s not always necessary, and you can get along without it, but an actual ABET accredited Facilities engineer degree with a license would be the best bet, some of the schools have that. That would allow you to get a FE/PE license which looks good or would be required to be an actual “engineer” in the shoreside sense, some types of jobs and roles require a PE to sign off on stuff. That being said you could probably get away with the other options and get a job as some type of facilities manager or stationary operator without being a full “engineer”.

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I’m curious. There’s always a lot of talk here about ABET accreditation and FE/PE, but how many people here actually have a PE?

Granted I don’t keep up with many of the engineers in my class, but last I heard only one had a PE.

If you have the time to get ABET accredited degree + 3AE license then I would absolutely do it. Your career after sailing would be really up to you and unrestricted by the degree.

I didn’t go to maritime academy, but I can say that my ABET accredited engineering program was pretty demanding. You don’t have to be a genius but it does require good work ethic and time management.

If you don’t have the time, the TECH program seems like a great deal that will probably give you enough options shoreside. I’d want to talk to somebody who graduated from the TECH program before commiting to it.

I probably wouldn’t consider the non-ABET engineering degree option.

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That depends on what shoreside job. In the maritime field some government jobs may require a degree but port engineer jobs likely won’t (but they’d likely require more onboard experience to compensate for the lack of it).

Once you have a degree you can always pretend you havnt got one

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Someone made a comment recently about a maritime academy that had less than 50% pass rate for those that took the FE exam. This is pretty terrible.

Of those that ship and also want to pursue a PE license, I don’t see many states accepting the experience of working on a ship as a licensed USCG engineer as relevant experience to gain a PE license, but I’m sure some make it work. In addition to this ineligible work experience, I think few would actually be able to pass the PE exam without massive effort studying/re-education unless they went to shore and were involved in some design/analysis engineering work vs operating engineer work at sea. The skillsets are very different.

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Yup. When I graduated, ABET was not yet offered, but was being worked on. Having come ashore, I do work with quite a few PEs, and yes, the skill set is VERY different from a sailing engineer.