Career Advice

Hello all, first post on here!

I’m looking for some career advice from some of the folks that have been around the block for a little while. (3rd Mate Unlimited, PIC DL, MEDPIC, TOAR partially completed)

I’m a recent grad and was one of the very, very few cadets to find employment before graduation. I’m currently working as a Third Mate on a Drillship. I understand that I am in a great position right now and feel pretty blessed to be sailing on my license at the moment, as quite a few of my classmates are not getting their sea time on the 3/M ticket.

With all this being said, I feel as if this job isn’t what I wanted when I was in school. Basically, a 3M on a drillship is a maintenance worker/overpaid AB - which is totally fine and good for right now as I need to pay off my school loans. I have no problem with getting my hands dirty and pounding decks for a while, but I am a little concerned that I will pigeon-hole myself if I don’t get out of offshore work within a year or two.

Ultimately, I want to work on tankers or heavy lift ships (I’ve always dreamed of doing the whole McMurdo/Thulere-supply runs, friggin dream job). AMO is where these jobs are at the moment and I have no problem paying dues and being a part of the union. Quite frankly, I’d much rather sail under the US flag and support Uncle Sam.

When it comes down to it, I really do enjoy being out to sea and moving cargo; working out here is quite literally the opposite of that. Ultimately it’s going to take some time to get where I want to go, but any advice on getting there would be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to any input you guys and gals might have!

Thanks again!

Damn. You can swap with me tomorrow. Ill even buy your plane ticket and leave my TV behind. But seriously, i’d stay where your at. There aint no where to go. And where your at is where everyone wants to be. I’d keep at it, the oil market may pick up and then you may find yourself in a cozy DPO spot in the near future. At least get that DP cert before you bail. Honestly, ive sailed about 900 days out of the last 1200 and I would much rather be where your at.

But, if you hate it, you hate it. MSC is hiring. Just let me know when you quit so I can drop some apps.


The grass is always greener as the saying goes…but sometimes it isn’t. You are in an enviable position in that you will be able to attain DP certification that many would die for. If you really want to sail, then do it. But first, as @saltedsea recommends get you DP. Get enough time to get you next license if possible. Learn as much as you can about drillship operations before moving on. The knowledge and experience will be invaluable later on even if you don’t realize it now.


Stay until you have enough time to upgrade. Take the 1600 Masters crossover when you can, on your off time (as a drill ship in presuming 3 and 3 or 4 and 4) keep working on your TOAR. Bust your hump while you’re young and relatively unencumbered. In those 2 years you’ll be way ahead of the curve to everyone that didnt get a job right away.


Welcome to Gcap !
I would def knock out your DP, you should be able to complete your time for unlimited in a little over a year.
I believe you can also apply to AMO and start that process without any obligation until you actually sail for them. I could be wrong about that but I’m certain there are many AMO members that can set me straight.
Congrats on the drill ship job.
When you upgrade to 2m and get your 1600 , if you have your TOAR and PIC DL this will certainly open some doors. Crowley comes to mind.
Good luck !


I’d stay where you are. Six years ago drill ship DPOs were making over $1,000 a day and people were quitting the unions left and right to make that money. If you weren’t already in I’d say sail the world some before getting stuck on a drill ship but now that you’re there don’t leave.


If you don’t mind me asking. How much you making? Are they paying for travel?

I’d get enough time for 2m then go sail deep sea. Fewer hardhats, less paperwork, 3m will actually do 3m work…

I wouldn’t want to stick around waiting for a DPO spot that might take years to come up.


I would also add ,depending on your personal circumstances you may want to look into getting a Security Clearance. You will need to be employed with a Govt Contractor but as stated previously MSC may be a good option for you.
As with all of us , the more certifications you can acquire to distinguish yourself from the other 3m the more options you will have available to you.

DPOs are still well paid, but they know this and hold onto those jobs for as long as possible. Honestly, it seems like a pretty good gig (even though being a DPO while on a well seems like 75=0% juggling permits and playing on your phone), but I’ve got the impression that it takes a while to move up. I doubt that it will ever go back to being that high, it seems like everyone out here talks of the days before 2015 like they were the golden age (maybe they were). My impression is that most drilling outfits are just about breaking even right now, and it will probably stay that way for a while.

The money is pretty compareable to everywhere else right now, maybe a little less base pay than a OSG or Crowley Tankerman. There is talk that the company will stop paying for travel eventually too, which is a pretty big turn off for me.

Yes, but significantly lower than they were.

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There’s some really good advice in this thread. In particular the advice to stay till you get your seconds.

Also you might be learning more then you think. That’s a complicated operation involves a lot of moving parts. Likely with some very experienced and knowledgeable people. At one tug/barge job I worked I got some really good advice a few times from the crane operator about deck operations in general that I’ve not forgotten.


Do you want to sail on tankers? We always need people. Send me a PM.

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If you stay in offshore, you will get used to the schedule and the money. Then you will never leave and you will be type casted for only offshore positions. You are young and can make mistakes, so do it now. Don’t do a job you hate and have no passion, money is not everything, time on your license will come, don’t be one of those who upgrades to Unlimited Master, never making it past SrDPO onboard, there is no respect for them.


Being a third mate on a drillship can go either way. You can be one of those wannbe Sr DPOs hoping the glory days of high pay return because DPOs were in short supply or you can prepare yourself to be a real mate and eventually chief mate and Master. Hint, the glory days of a shortage of DPOs is past and even if the offshore drilling industry comes back there are plenty of DPOs with more experience than you available. The drilling companies know this and will hire the cheapest best qualified they can find.
On the other hand you can be one of those rare drillship mates that learns the craft of being a mate. Get out there and get involved with the ABs, crane operators etc during cargo ops. Sweat, handle some hoses, change some gaskets, learn crane signals…hell learn to operate a crane. You will be respected by the crew and learn valuable skills that will carry over to any ship. Do not be known as one of those prima-donnas the crew only sees when they need to turn in a permit. Most drillship mates I ran into before I retired I would not hire as an OS on a tug or a cargo ship as they would wilt without air conditioning… Don’t be one of them. At the end of the day the only thing you have is your personal reputation. Make it something to be proud of and you’ll have options and respect.


In the last century " get out there and work with the AB’s would get you into a union dispute faster than you would believe, and a good chewing out from the mate. Maybe things have changed, but I doubt it. Watch but don’t touch.

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That is still very much the case.

On one of the old TECO ships a Chief Mate decided to put his 3rd Mate to work painting (for whatever jackassy reason he saw fit.) The Bosun promptly threw down with him over that, and a union rep had to come in to break it down purple dinosaur style for the Mate in Jacksonville.

Reactions might vary depending where you go…

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On a Drillship I seriously doubt if there would be a union dispute as I doubt any if the AB’s are represented by a union. That said the examples of things to get involves in (handle some hoses, change some gaskets, learn crane signals…hell learn to operate a crane.) I would expect a good tanker mate to do. I don’t think @tengineer1 was suggesting the guy get out there and chip & paint.

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No he wasn’t suggesting such but it would not be bad to go by and compliment the guys doing the chipping and painting, ask if they need anything ordered to help out. It is a thankless job.Needle guns need rebuilding, ordering the parts is an education in itself. :slight_smile:
It’s correct that drillship folks don’t know much about unions. It’s a cultural thing in the drilling bidness.

I dunno, on Glomar Jack Ryan and Glomar Explorer, that seemed to be the primary thing we third mates were used for. That and wiping down containment’s with 409 to make them spotless each morning.

On the other hand, you can learn a lot when you’re moving tubular or bulk products with the drill crew, and on the bright side these days you won’t be working Yokohama’s and tying up the supply boats when they come alongside at least.