Hello, I am looking for some guidance on what direction to take getting into the maritime industry. To make a long story short I am 30 and only hold a high school diploma, no consistent work experience due to a chronic medical problem now been resolved. I want to get my life sorted out, and trying to decide what course to take. I am on the east coast. I could get my SCTW locally and for free, which I understand would allow me to become an OS and start looking for work while also continuing to train to get further licensing. I am also looking at Mass Maritime which offers an unlimited
ton license and a BA, but it is not appealing, almost 200,000 in debt and I am not educated enough for their mathematics
courses so I would have to study and transfer from a community college. There is also the Northeast Martime program, 2 years,
less debt, gives an associates degree in nautical science and graduates can work on smaller boats, ferries, etc.
I have accepted that my life isn’t going to go to way I wanted it to, so I am not too concerned about timeframe. If I could be making 60,000 a year by 40 I’d be happy. Debt would not be too big an issue if I could make around 50,000 out of an academy, because I could live with family to pay off debt quickly, but still not my preference. My problem is that I get overwhelmed trying to navigate the maritime hierarchy to figure out my plan. I am interested in working within the USA, lakes or rivers, preferably commercial non-passenger type boats, so cargo, shipping and the like. Do I need an unlimited ton license for that, is it worth it to go to Mass Maritime for that reason? Could I successfully get my foot in the door with Northeast Maritime and hustle to work my way up to third mate?
I am sure I seem a bit clueless. This is a lot of new information for me and I am trying to orient myself to make a good decision. Any guidance you could offer would be very appreciated. Thank you.