Choice between academy vs hawsepiper

Some people take issue with the 100% employment claim. It should be noted that they don’t necessarily get you the job. You have to get your own job. Even if 30 years after graduating you take a job at McDonald’s it counts towards their 100%. They should really qualify it with within 1 year or jobs in their industry sector.

I’m pretty sure if you live in a state that doesn’t have a maritime college. You can get instate tuition prices at Mass Maritime. Might be worth looking into…

Not quite. Every academy offers reduced “regional” rates. It’s somewhere between in state and out of state rates. Every academy has a similar program.

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Was a hawespiper. Nothing was easy, getting passed over a few times by academy grads was tough when I knew I had the balls for the job.It all worked out in the end. Knowing what I went through, My kid went to KP, and told him not to be an asshole. 6 years after graduation in spite of a medical condition he has done well.


My oldest son tried college twice and it wasn’t for him. He went through the SIU’s Apprentice program and has now sailed for some time as QMED. For a while I pushed him to get his license but that decision is one he has to make. If getting a license is a goal, that focus has to be maintained. The thing about hawsepiping is that it takes longer, and today more difficult. Very often life, and its many distractions, gets in the way.


Actually GLMA gives you an Ocean Third Mates License or a Third Engineers License PLUS for the deckies a Great Lakes Pilot license. I believe the costs are far less than the coastal Academies and if you already have a degree you can get through in 3 years. There are number of folks who come off the coast because they want Pilotage and then they take that back home with them to New Orleans or other places. GLMA combines some time on their training ship, Great Lakes only, with time on commercial ships, Great Lakes and Oceans. Had I not gone to KP GLMA would have been all I needed at the time I was looking.

I can relate sir. my oldest son was a project. I was able to set him up with a good company with good entry pay and future upgrades. He didn’t take advantage of that. My youngest son had a clue what I did and sacrificed for the family… Both were/are very bright fellows, one took a path that is very rewarding in spite of a malady that occured early in his sailing career. Oldest son makes less than half of what youngest son makes per year. He is working shoreside now and recently purchased his very nice second home. The topic was academy versus hawsepiper. No matter what in this day, whatever academy, shows the most rewards. Hawespiper is frigging tough nowadays.

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Go to college!



I was way too old to attend an academy and did not wish to incur a lot of debt so I went the hawsepipe route as a means to a specific end. I have pretty much achieved that. I am prior Navy who left under a drawdown plan so I wanted to convert that time to civilian time and did so by sailing for the government and paying a large sum of money back to them in the form of a deposit. My Navy time was in an engineering rating which the Coast Guard gave me credit for and that was a huge burden off my back because I was able to start as a QMED rather than a wiper. Then I got my license which was a really big jump in pay.

Hawsepiping is a long and difficult path, it is not for everyone, you have to have a goal in mind and you will need to pony up a lot of money for the STCW classes and the documents you will need out of pocket with no guarantee you will land a job right away. You are looking at three or four grand or more.

You are young enough that the two year program these guys are talking about just might be the ticket. I think there is a similar one in the Northwest, but the name escapes me. These programs have connections with the industry and can help place you in employment.

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Hawsepipe worked for me. Starting in the early '90s. I did an accademy for a couple of semesters and realized it wasn’t for me. I had worked on deck and the thought of spending that much money for years when I could be making money was why I went back to work.

Lots of work on tugs and vessels that don’t require unlimited tonnage license’s. You can easily be an AB in a couple of years and make 70-80 a year working 7-8 months.

If you choose the hawsepipe route don’t step onboard and start talking about how you plan on getting a license. Focus on the job you have and do it well. Look at the next step to get to your goal and make it happen. Once you have the seatime study and test asap. Don’t wait for someone else to pay. Get every certification you can and you will advance. No debt involved.

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College is not for everyone. In fact, most college students are: not truly qualified to be in college in the first place; not majoring in a field that leads to economic success; not really applying themselves, and it’s just a very expensive four or five year party for too many students while they avoid a real job.

However, if you are smart enough, and have adequate high school prep to be in college, if you work at it, and if you major in something that has job market demand, you cannot go wrong.

Unless you have a lot of previous creditable seatime, the choice between hawsepiping and an academy is a no-brainer. Go to the academy.

I am an old hawespiper who did everything the hard way, back when it was a lot easier than today.