Considering the MITAGS workboat academy, what are your thoughts on the program?


I am considering attending the MITAGS workboat academy. I have talked to a couple people at the school about the program and it sounds like a great program.

I would be interested in hearing what others think about this program and if it is worth the time and money. Is the MITAGS workboat academy looked at as a good thing in the eyes of potential employers, or do most companies want a 4 yr academy?

I have a bachelors degree from Florida State University, I worked in an office for 4yrs doing HR and know that office work is not for me. I grew up in Panama and my father worked for the Panama Canal in the Marine Traffic Division. I have been around the water and boats my entire life but have never worked in the industry.

I just turned 30 am I too old to be starting a new career in the maritime industry? I know a number of people who work in the industry and really like it.

I am interested the industry because I will not be working in an office, time off, pay, benefits, travel, job security etc.

Any info that you guys can provide me will be greatly appreciated. If anyone has completed the workboat academy I would love to hear your take on it.

Thank you!

Companies usually only care about the license. Having an academy degree helps when you want to go shoreside but rarely anywhere else. That said, you should check out the graduate degree program at suny. You get a 3rd mate unlimited and a masters degree in not much longer than it takes to get the 1,600 ton mate license from pmi.

Thanks for the reply Capt. Phoenix! I have not looked into SUNY, I will do that as well. When going into the Workboat academy how many hours per day do you think will be dedicated to school and studying? Is it an intense vigorous program? What kind of people are in this program? I just want to make sure I know as much as I can before I commit to giving them my hard earned cash.


Out here on the west coast the PMI workboat academy grads are generally well-respected in my experience. I have had a number of cadets from the program on my vessels (tugs) and all of them ended up with jobs after they finished the program, usually starting as Able Seaman.

30-years old is not too old to be starting a new career in the maritime industry. The workboat academy program was developed for people just like you. Many of our cadets were guys from the construction trades that lost their jobs after the housing market crashed, and had no previous maritime experience.

captfish thanks for the info! Just curious as to why most start as an AB, wouldn’t you come out of the program as a mate? Would it be more worthwhile to see if I could get on tug here in Jacksonville FL as a deckhand and work my way up?

You start as a AB to learn more about the mate position at most companies. 2 years in school gives you the training but more hands on experience is usually needed to take over a watch.

It all depends on what you want to work on when you get out of school…
If you want to work on tugs and crew boats then the workboat academy is for you but if you want to work on container ships and drillships then going to a 4 year academy for a MS degree might be a worthwhile investment.
Since you already have a degree, you might be looking at 3 years for a unlimited license vs. 2 years for a limited license…

@Skoidat69 thank you for the info~! Working on container ships/drill ships etc would mean more money but longer hitches away from your family correct? What kind of schedule do you have?

I think I am more interested in getting a position on a tug.

Drill ships and rigs work something around 4 weeks on and 4 weeks off. That is a pretty sweet schedule and a hell of a lot better than west coast towing.

No matter what you think you want to work on, do not limit yourself with a 1600 ton license. The 3m is a far better license and you should go for it if you can stomach the business graduate classes.

The business graduate classes aren’t that much to stomach and if you want to work shoreside later, it’s probably a better option.

I would say “an even better option” because the license alone makes it a better option.

The MITAGS/PMI program is probably good for someone who may or may not be a high school graduate, or that has very little college credit, provided that they have no intention of ever working on vessels over 1600 tons.

However, I cannot see how the MITAGS/PMI program would be appropriate for someone who is already a college graduate with a B.A., and/or might want to work on vessels over 1600 tons in the future.

You should carefully checkout all six of the state maritime academies. I suspect that any of them would give you at least one year of credit as a “second degree student” (kind of like a transfer student). That would make a maritime academy only a three year degree program for you. Also, as state supported schools, three years at a maritime academy would probably be cheaper than two years at MITAGS. It might also be much easier to finance with government grants and student loans.

I don’t know much about it, but that SUNY masters in maritime management with 3rd mate’s license option does sound like the best option for someone who already has a 4 year college degree.

My cousin who went to FSU says its a good school. You did not say what your major was. If you already have college level math skills, you will have a very big advantage. The rest is easy enough. I think it would be fair to say that most maritime academy degree programs probably require pre-calculus, calculus and a year of physics. These will be firm prerequisites for advanced classes.

Although graduate business classes will also have prerequisites, typically they are not so firm. Most of a graduate business program should be easy enough for a typical college graduate. However, you will be at a very great disadvantage (and perhaps flunk out) if you are not competent in basic calculus. If you are going to spend your time and money on any educational program you should plan to do well. You cannot expect to do well in 500 level business classes like managerial economics and quantitative analysis without a year of calculus.

Please let us know what you find out about the SUNY M.S. in Maritime Management with 3rd Mate program.

The difference between the MS and BS programs is financial aid. You only qualify for financial aid if you are going for a higher degree than what you have. If you would qualify for financial aid then go MS degree. Otherwise, consider that an academy BS degree is easy to get and good to have when applying shore side, but an MS is even better to have, though harder to get.

Thanks for all the great info! I received a degree in communications @ FSU. Truthfully I think the math classes would totally kick my ass! I have not taken any of those classes…sadly.

Do you think it would be better to try and get a job as a deckhand on a tug here in Jacksonville FL and work my way up that way?


You probably ought to try to get some kind of seagoing job for awhile to at least get some idea of whether you might like the seagoing lifestyle.

Don’t give up so easy on the SUNY MS/3rd Mate program. Check it out. Find out what classes are actually required and what the prerequisites are. You’re a reasonably bright guy who has already graduated from a good college and you’ve gotten four years of experience in a real job, this gives you a big advantage over the kids that just graduated from high school. You’ll also have big advantage over the old guys that are returning to school after 20 years at sea. You can learn whatever math is required just like everyone else there has to. For most people the hardest part of any graduate program is learning how to do academic research and write good papers. As a communications major you’ve got the writing down.

I’m not following the idea of the MITAGS program not being for someone that already has a BS/BA. The Coast Guard doesn’t give 2 chits about rather you have that or not, so how is that going to affect the license or school you choose to get your Maritime training. Yeah the academies do give you that, but at what cost? Higher tuition and longer time to complete their program as compared to 6 months or 2 years in and out of the PMI/MITAGS work boat programs. No the work boat program doesn’t guarantee you an Unlimited license as the academy route does but you may get it depending on the company you work for during the process.

He can get a graduate degree and a 3m in three years. One extra year for an exponentially better license is a good deal, plus he can get student loans for a graduate degree.

[QUOTE=Capt. Phoenix;73658]He can get a graduate degree and a 3m in three years. One extra year for an exponentially better license is a good deal, plus he can get student loans for a graduate degree.[/QUOTE]

Agreed it is a better license. If I knew what I do know back when I got out of high school I would have no doubt gone that route. But I didn’t so I went through the MITAGS program and used Sallie Mae for a loan, guess their not offering those anymore. Also some can’t up and go to a 3 or 4 yr school for many reasons. The advantage of the work boat program is working offshore, getting actual experience not gained in all those classroom hours and actually making money while getting the training, not $33/day or whatever it is they pay cadets now. If your young with no family, or bills I guess that wage will work out. And no I was not straight off the street into the program, I had been working offshore for the previous 8 years with deck and wheelhouse experience.

What is the age range of PMI students/cadets? younger/older? Is a 40 y/o (but extremely fit), going to have a problem getting on with a tug company for inland work? I have some sea time, but mostly Navy.

No idea about PMI age groups, but 40 is plenty young enough to get a job with a tug company.