Foreign Marine Professional looking to obtain USCG License


While I’m sure there’s some out there I’ve never personally seen a COI require anything other than Oilers. If you only get one, get oiler.


That is not good advice for at least two reasons. One, why limit a very simple testing session to one rating? Two, reefer and electrician ratings provide the opportunity to make as much or more than the 3rd and boxboat companies don’t hire oilers to be electricians or reefers.

Never ever pass up the chance to acquire the highest level of certification available to you.


I said if he only gets one, I didn’t tell him to only get one. If he only had one rating oiler has more jobs available than any others and is preferable to Junior Engineer.

I agree.


See, this is one of the things I’d like to know. If I get an endorsement for QMED-Junior Engineer, would this allow me to work as an Oiler, Motorman etc.? As in, can you sail as a lower rating with a higher rating endorsement? Or is it a case of you have to have the endorsement for what you’d be sailing as/on paper as?
If that’s the case, then I’d probably be better springing for both Junior Engineer and Oiler, but if I can sail as both with the Junior Engineer endorsement, then I’ll be going for that.


It’s all the same $145 cost to test for every rating. Most of the exam questions come from the same pool. None of them will be very difficult. You only need to get 70% right. You can retest for any modules that you flunk. It would be silly not to take them all.

I don’t know if higher ratings cover lower ratings, maybe, maybe not. It does not matter what the rules are, if you don’t get everything you can, you’ll undoubtedly encounter HR girls with a checklist that don’t know the rules, and just throw your CV in the trash because you don’t have the particular rating that is on her checklist.

If you need to worry about whether the tests cost $145 or $500, you are getting into the wrong business. Most of us are spending several thousand dollars a year on USCG approved STCW courses.


Here’s the thing that’s sticking in my craw though, I’m in the business and have been for the last 17 years. I’ve got Unlimited Chief Engineer’s License and STCW ratings, but I’m having to get into it all over again because the USCG can’t/won’t recognize my existing qualifications.
Where it’s coming to be an issue of money is that I’m wanting to get my USCG credentials to try and earn some additional cash between my contracts. I have a well paying job as Staff Chief Engineer with a large Cruise company, but I’m wanting to get a house bought and myself set up in case I want to go short contract/inshore. So if it’s going to be something I use every 3 months or so for a week here and there until such time as I start using it more often, I’m not wanting to dump a load of cash into it.
From what I’m reading, think I’m going to apply and test for my QMED-Junior Engineer and possibly QMED-Oiler as well and get my foot in the door.
Ideally I’d be looking for temporary work on tugs or inshore vessels to boost my income.


You must be making $10,000 a month as a Chief, possibly tax free. That’s probably about what a good US Oiler job pays. About what a lot of deckineers make on tugs. Less than a real unlicensed Chief would make on a tug.

I agree completely that the USCG licensing and inspection functions are dysfunctional, illogical, unfair, and totally screwed up. The USCG should change it’s rules and accept foreign training, among many other reforms.

However, the MCA, Canada, and other foreign authorities also erect far too many time consuming and expensive barriers in their Mariner licensing systems that US mariners must endure to get a CeC with STCW.

Spending one day of pay for USCG credentials is a tiny expense and a very good deal. It’s not worth complaining about.

Months of your time and $20,000 for USCG approved STCW courses is worth complying about. We complain about it all the time.


The MCA etc don’t put up expensive barriers for the US Mariner, the USCG does through their convoluted ticketing systems - no other nation has any issues getting the CEC (more’s the pity). Anyone with a non-US ticket must look at the threads on GCaptain and thank their lucky stars that they’re nothing to do with it.


To the contrary, The MCA does not accept American GMDSS certificates. I consider flying out to an MCA approved GMDSS course (which is not USCG approved) and living in a hotel for two weeks to be a significant expense, and barrier to getting an MCA CeC.

Nor is flying to the UK to prepare for, and take, the UKLAP exam, and the UK Master’s Orals an insignificant undertaking or expense, either. As I understand it, the MCA also requires 5 year renewals of some STCW courses for which the USCG does not require any renewal. The practical effect of that is that some original MCA approved STCW courses would have to be taken by most American mariners.

I admit that American mariners are victims of our incompetent USCG. May countries are on the MCA approved list of foreign GMDSS certificates, but not the US. The USCG has screwed American Mariners by approving US GMDSS courses that do not meet customary international standards. The American schools with for profit GMDSS courses have also screwed us. They could have easily included whatever small differences the MCA requires. But in reality, there is some, but no significant difference between the MCA and USCG two week GMDSS courses. The MCA could easily approve the US course for US mariners seeking a UK CeC, if it wanted to.

These are enough MCA created time and expense barriers to discourage most American mariners.


What good would a USCG CeC do anyway? You still wouldn’t be eligible to work on any US flag vessel.


I meant that no other nations have difficulty getting a UK CEC - I’ve no aspirations to get a US one!


I watched “Great Lakes Warriors” and it scared me to death!


Me too. That’s when I started looking into getting a MCA CeC!


For my wages, I’d rather not say, but I will point out that as a US Resident and currently employed through a US based company, I’m certainly not Tax exempt. Gone are the days when I could sit happy in the knowledge that Seafarers were lauded and appreciated, as I’ve had to pay tax ever since immigrating to the US, even when I was employed by a UK Agency. Also gone are the days when I was paid an annual wage, I’m now paid only when I’m onboard a ship, so my time away from home has certainly increased some, averaging over my contracted 6 months a year, 3 months at a time, but I digress.
Anyways, this wasn’t intended to open a discussion as to how illogical the USCG credential system is, or how much money you need to spend to get a UK CeC, it was intended to gain some information as to which credentials I should get for USCG in order to get some water under my keel on US vessels.
You’re right, I shouldn’t be worried about spending a couple of days wages to get my USCG credentials. So with that in mind, what’s the best course of action for me? QMED-Oiler and QMED-Junior Engineer or one or the other or another combination? That’s what I’m needing to know.


Cracking user name by the way. There’s a few Brits on the ship I’m on just now and we love to have the stereo turned up to “Land of Hope and Glory” every now and then!


I think it’s been accurately said several times by severel people that for a mere $145 you can apply to test for all of the QMED ratings. That’s what I would do.

Of course you’ll also need to apply for a TWIC Card, and go to the doctor for a USCG approved physical and apply for a USCG Medical Card. Also, you need to take drug test and submit that to the USCG.


Unless time is an issue, take them all. Considering your UK license, they shouldn’t be at all difficult. If you are unsure about steam from lack of experience in steam vessels you can skip Fireman-Watertender, but why not take it anyway? You can decide whether to re-test if you don’t pass.


Take all the tests, get the QMED Any Rating. Anything less is a waste of time and money. It is far from difficult to spend a couple of days testing.


But here’s where I’ve been told different things and where I’m a bit wary.

Just to get this 100% cleared up, it will cost me $140 for the evaluation and the issuance. THEN I’ll have to pay for each exam separately, so that could be $140 per exam depending on the REC.

OR if I apply for testing for all ratings and pay up front $280 on the website with all the “pay now” options, will this cover me taking all exams I’ve applied for? I think not right?

SO then it could be $140 for the evaluation and issuance, and then $700 for all the exams right?

Trying to get a solid answer because Lord knows I can’t get one from the NMC!


Pretty sure if everything is on the same application, you pay one eval fee and one test fee.
The way to blow the money you are talking about is to turn in separate applications for each rating.