Career change possible - Should I attend a maritime academy?

Hello everyone. I’ve been lurking here for a few months as I go back and forth about entering the profession. I appreciate the knowledge you all share.

I’d like to ask for some advice. I’ll be moving to the vicinity of the GLMA. I’ve been interested in the maritime industry now for years and being that I’m going to be within a 15 minute drive of the academy the urge to attend is high! I’m a career changer having separated from military service. I have a clean slate and the means in which to go to school and find a new career.

It’s between becoming an airplane pilot and getting my ratings or attending the GLMA with a preference for the deck side since the GLMA engineering path is not ABET accredited. I know the maritime industry isn’t great right now and the future looks bleak, but the transportation industry in general seems to be pretty cyclic. Aviation is up and down as well.

Heard great things about the GLMA including receiving lakes pilotage. Is there still a place in the industry for hard chargers to move forward deck side? Is this a career you’d advise your own children and friends to stay away from? I love traveling and can’t imagine a job in a cubicle.


I am attending GLMA now and finishing up my 2nd year. I am 32 so a little older then most but not the oldest. In my opinion the maritime industry is like a lot of other things in life, you get what you put into it. You cant have the mind set of I’m supposed to be a Mate not a Deckhand and expect to get anywhere. You have to pay your dues. There are jobs out there you just need to get your foot in the door. I highly recommend GLMA it’s a good Academy with out the regiment bullshit. Just wear a uniform and clean shaven and you are good.

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Also there are a lot threads on here that have been over this. You will probably get the famous “pull your head out of your ass and use the search function”.

Which branch of the service? What did you do?
But overall I would say Great Lakes is a good school, I would point out that CMA is ABET accredited, and should you go Black Gang you will have career options outside the maritime industry.

That being said, I believe that there is a future in the U.S.maritime industry for mates.

Go into aviation. I have family that works at United. Benefits that put the maritime industry to shame. Pay is excellent. They are losing more pilots than they are making. No brainer If you ask me.

I would stick to aviation! Seems like commercial airlines are only growing. Aside from a couple new builds here and there, the USMM is slowly dying, but if you did pursue, the inland sector is doing pretty good.

You’re right about that. Definitely been scouring past posts on the subject too. I was hoping to get opinions with a bit of the lakes/aviation/economy with this post. Appreciate your insight, especially you being there now. I’m about your age myself and heard GLMA has quite a few “older” folks. That’s a big pro for me.

I’m down with paying my dues. Not afraid to get dirty and work. Honestly after my last ‘collateral duty’ job in the military doing endless paperwork at a desk, I fantasized about getting out and sweating my balls off on the landscape crew that would go by my window. Crazy.

Corpsman in the Coast Guard. Boat crew before I was rated so mostly medical/EMT stuff. I’d consider other schools with ABET but I’ll be stuck in the Traverse City area due to a spouse’s career there.

Appreciate your advice. Heard from quite a few pilots that say now is the time to hop in to the regional airlines and make the move to the majors a few years down the road. No guarantees in the aviation world. The market could change. Definitely have some more serious thinking to do before I make a decision.

Seems like aviation is the no brainer for sure but deep down just have a fascination with big sexy ships and the idea of traveling the world on 'em. (I know that’s not easy to do anymore, nor glamorous.) The schedule I hear about seems like a good fit at least. Months on, month(s) off would give me time to pursue my goals.

Thanks all!

You have a significant asset in your corpsman training and experience. Use it to your advantage.

Look into becoming a rig medic / safety officer, or a similar position on a research vessel or expedition yacht.

Some experience as a seagoing medic would be good preparation, at a very good salary, before going to a maritime academy.

If you are insistent going back to school, consider nursing school, or becoming a PA.

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I was a Corpsman in the Navy and went to GLMA. I went engineering after one enlistment, started off at 24, graduated by 27. While the Corpsman skills don’t translate directly into Deck or Engineering, it doesn’t hurt to have some trauma experience. Casualty in the engine room or battlefield requires a clear and focused mind.

You definitely wouldn’t be old by a longshot at GLMA. I think at least one 50 something graduates every year.

If you want to stay in the Traverse City area I’d recommend GLMA and Maritime in general. I’m from there originally, there’s not too many high paying jobs. If you want to stay medical though, there is a nursing program at NMC, and Munson Medical is always hiring Nurses, usually starting off at $25-$30 hr.

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While you may think “big sexy ship”, the reality is probably an offshore supply boat or an ocean tug. . . .