Foreign Marine Professional looking to obtain USCG License


My recollection is that it’s the same $145 in fees whether you take one exam or all five exams.


So I asked someone at MPT who is helping me navigate (excuse the pun) the USCG credentials process and they’ve told me that it’s one fee for as many exams as you take. I’ve been told so many different things, it’s hard to take anything at face value anymore.
Massive thanks to everyone who is replying though, definitely giving me a bunch to think about.
Anyone fancy hiring temp for ratings?


You can take anything @jdcavo says as Gospel – it’s his job to know this stuff.


Apologies, didn’t see this reply until just now. I’ve not got a Steam license from the MCA, although I did have to cover high pressure boilers as part of my Chief’s.
Might skip that credential, but will have a look into the past exams and see if I think I’d be able to pass it or not without too many issues.
Do you happen to know if there is a free online past exams other than the ones on the NMC website? Or a prep website?


Lapware is the gold standard for USCG exam questions, practice exams, and solutions. It costs money and requires an internet connection.

Capt. Joe’s is on a usb drive, cheap and works without internet. It has good solutions.

Upgrade U is a free app that works without internet. has exam questions. It’s free or cheap.

Mariner Advancement comes on a usb drive at reasonable cost. I once knew an engineer who used it successfully.

If you have constant internet access, you should probably spend the money and get Lapware. It is by far the most popular USCG license prep program.

It will be important to get familiar with the style and wording of the antiquated USCG questions. There are some “trick questions” based mostly upon reading comprehension. Most of the questions come from the World War II era. High school dropouts with modest skills pass these exams. I do not know what books provided by the USCG exam room, if any, that you may be allowed to use for QMED exams.


If you have an iPhone, there is an app called upgradeE. I am not privy to whether it is good or not, look for some reviews. I don’t own any apple products therefore I never looked into it too much.
I have both deck and engine tickets and over the course of the last few years I have used lapware, capt joe, and
Capt joe does not have any engine study guides that I am aware of.
Like tugsailor said, lapware requires an internet connection but it is a pretty slick program/study tool. If you decide to go for multiple qmed ratings I think this would be the most bang for your buck. and are thumb drives and are great tools as well. However, if you decide to go for multiple ratings you may need multiple thumb drives…I’m not sure, you can call them or check their websites.
You could just get a thumb drive for 3rd assistant engineer and study the hell out of that one, that would make you prepared for any qmed rating you decide to take I would think. is a free practice test site, internet required. I’ve used it but the problem is it won’t give you concise practice tests. Its vague compared to the study guides that we have already mentioned.
Android has an app called capt quiz also. I haven’t used it but know some people who have.

Lapware and marineradvancement give good explanations for the problems that require math solutions.
Best to know how to find info in the CFRs very well. They will be in the exam room and can help.


I don’t know how the fees work, that’s why I haven’t responded to that. I’ve been out of the office all week and haven’t had a chance to ask anyone. I’ll find out the answer next week when I’m back in the office.


I’m going to throw out another suggestion here, if someone else said it, I’m sorry I missed it. Get a Marshall Islands (or Vanuatu?) CeC and try and get on with a drilling company as the Chief Engineer you already are.


Haha! Not a bad suggestion. I’ve already got a British Chief’s License, Dutch Chief’s License and a Bahamian Chief’s License, might add some more to the collection!
What I’m trying to do though is get myself into the US Merchant Marine so I can make some cash on my leaves and eventually maybe move full time into the USMM. Would be a ways down the road though I think.


Actually, that’s the best advice I’ve heard. With a foreign passport, a US green card , and MCA, Vanuatu , and Marshall Islands CeCs you should do make very good money working 28/28 on rigs or foreign construction vessels in the US Gulf of Mexico


The exam fee should be per application not per rating. If QMED ratings are one test per rating you’re only going to need to take 4 or 5 tests. Chief Mate unlimited was 9 tests and cost a $45 exam fee.


The stated reason STCW was to raise standards worldwide and cure the unfair advantage of FOC shipping. The problem of course is that we in the US actually expected that by doing so, the additional expenses in training would somehow level the playing field, it actually made us even less competitive as now the FOC crews are getting similar training while still working for a fraction industrialized nationals do and the other first world flags are still subsidized and allowed to employ cheap third world labor for their second and at times first registry ships. The rising tide lifted all ships.


No problems mate, once the Jones Act are all Cabotage laws are rescinded you will have a bright future sailing on US bottoms, send us a postcard from your load/ discharge ports please.


Especially now that CBP has ensured the extermination of any US presence in the GOM fpr the future.


Thanks to all who’ve helped out and apologies for taking so long to get back on here. Been a busy leave between buying and moving house and trying to get another one sold. Doesn’t help that my leave was cut short either!

Got my TWIC done at the beginning of my leave and the medical done, so now I’ve just to send in the application for the exams and try and get them done next leave, hopefully as soon as I get off the ship. Have been chatting with the folks at MPT (thanks again for those who recommended them) and they’re having a quick look over my application to make sure all is in order before sending off. Just waiting on my employer to supply with a drug test letter.

One other question I would have is for those who do temporary and fill in work, where are you applying or posting your CV/Resume? With buying this new house the need to find some temp work inbetween contracts is greater than usual and I would think that there would be temporary gigs going for Harbour Tugs and Inland Vessels?


I mostly do seasonal work, but do some temp work. There is a lot less temporary work than there use to be. It’s mostly personal contacts and word of mouth.

Posting a CV is a complete waste of time; you will get almost no calls. The rare calls that you do get, you should be extremely skeptical of. You would not want to work for most of them.

Every job that is advertised receives hundreds of resumes in response. Most companies cannot even begin to read them.

In some places and with some companies you can go knock on doors. That’s what works second best. The best thing is referrals from personal contacts. Make all the contacts that you can.

Many companies actually have a difficult time finding good employees. Ads and the flood of resumes from every Tom, Dick and Harry that an ad produces does not work for the companies to either.


Thanks for the heads up tugsailor. Through my time on the cruise ships, I’ve been fortunate to meet a couple of guys who’re working in the US Merchant Marine and for decent size companies as well, so will be hitting them up to see if they hear of anything.

Reason I’m looking to do temp work is to try and get additional gigs in between my routine sailing assignments. Mortgage has to be paid somehow! I know in the UK they’re often looking for temp fill ins for different harbours but would like something much closer to home if possible!


You might try the unions: AMO (although they mostly expect you to find your own jobs), or sail unlicensed with SIU to get your foot in the American shipping door.

Most mid-sized to large nonunion companies have an extensive and expensive hiring process. Background checks, company physical, drug test, orientation, company specific training, etc. they don’t want to make this investment for s temporary.

However, some employers hire temporaries through agencies like Oceanwide, Faststream, Complete Logisticsl Services, WRS, etc. , and leave it to the temp agencies to vet the temporary employees.

The unions typically vet Mariners with physicals, drug tests, etc., and provide health insurance and retirement benefits. Seamen and junior officers are often “rotary”, that is, they are temporary whether it’s for a few days or s few months.

Small companies are more likely to hire temps on a crisis basis “pierhead jump” and dispense with the normal hiring process.


Thanks again tugsailor. Am going to get everything sent off and credentials received and then start getting my info out to a couple of the agencies to try and get some temp work.

It’s kind of frustrating that I can’t even see what the dates are in March yet for taking the exams, but guess I’ve got a few hoops to jump through first before I can get the exams booked in. Just hoping that I can get them all done and dusted in the one week, so I’m not having to travel back and forth too many times.


USCG licensing is currently part of the government shutdown. They are understaffed with incompetent buffoons. It can take months to get them to act. March is optimistic.