Career choices - Comparing Deck/ Wheelhouse jobs - Northwest Tugs, G.O.M. and more

I’ve been trolling along here and sifting through threads for weeks now and dont think I have seen a general discussion about the different types of marine work from a career choice standpoint.

“Do you like or even love your type of work and where you do it - generally speaking and what advice would you have for getting there?” Anybody want to tell us your story?

[U] Answers would be particularly helpful coming from folks who have worked in different geographic areas on different types of vessels and can make some comparisons.[/U]

I’m getting close to applying for several apprenticeship opportunities between my home here in the Northwest and the Gulf. At 37 - with years of being self employed and an employer in a service business and also a few years as a trained marine carpenter…I am looking for a career for the next 20-25 years. I also have a family now and want to try to plot a course years ahead and make the best choices.

I’ve read and and this and and definately this I have also read enough about the intricacies of credentials to spin my head.

I am interested in OSV’s, Northwest Towing, Drillships, and Research vessels starting on deck. hmmm. guess that leaves out cruise and shipping.
When I ask …what is the best work?, I am talking about years down the line, and hopefully with advancement. It is about the combination of $, the kind of people Ill work with, and what the pace of the days and nights is like. I know I need to put in my time for the gravy work. Ha Haa-you’ll like this: two people I spoke with about my plans said they heard the people from the industry were 1 scumbags and 2 bottom feeders:) . I am forging on anyway.

Some generalizations I cobbled together and questions I am left with:

[U]Drill ships[/U]: I’ve read work could be boring and not involve as much boathandling as other vessels but pays top notch, and the ships are comfortably equipped. ohh and the internet connections…woo hoo. Im starting to understand what DP is but DP signoff is hard to get for advancement? Are there entry level positions?
[U]Tugs[/U]: Ive read if you work for Crowley “Good company but you just push oil barges all day”. If true, Is that boring compared to assist work or log barges, or sailing coastwise with freight to AK? The waterfront here in the Northwest is awesome. Does that factor in for you in a Northwest tug life or do the weather conditions suck bad enough to cancel that benefit out? I am looking at smaller companies and larger national ones and see advantages and disadvantages to both for time on the stick, the family atmosphere, and ability to stay within the company and relocate. Do folks like the ocean tows better or working along the coast or in the harbor with shorter term assignments?
[U]OSV’s:[/U] From “crewboatchronicles blog” it sounds like demanding, dynamic, non stop work. If I did want to get on a drillship does working on an OSV make it much easier than coming down from the PNW?
[U]Research Vessels[/U]: I am imagining this to be a really interesting environment with changing routes, large staff/crew, and equipment but I need to start with shorter hitches like 14 or 28 days until my kids get older. What are the pros and cons of working on an R/V?
[U]Pilot work: [/U]What kind of a backgrounds and credentials get you into pilot work? I dont see much about that on this forum.

Of course, i know I can change directions as I go along and everybody is a bit different. It would be great to hear from a few folks who have been there and done that and would either rather not do it again or are so glad they did. Maybe I could find a company I would like to stick with for the long haul right off the bat.

Ok folks…thats enough for now. Thanks for all previous posts on the forum and those that may come.