Going to back to school after being in the industry for 5 years

Hi I’m thinking about going to a maritime school such as Mass Maritime. I’ve been sailing as an electrician, reefer, oiler, and wiper. I went to Seattle maritime but it was only one year and they barely scratched the surface on subjects. I want to know more.

Besides getting an unlimited 3rd engineer license, I’d also have a ABET accredited engineering degree that no one could take from me. And that degree would hopefully be useful in other places such as a powerplant.

Does the school offer work for the summer? Could I find a job for the summer using my current engine room ratings (I’m in a union and our contracts are 4-6 months)?

But I’m also 27 years old. Am I too old? I’m not really in a rush for anything. I’d also have to get my math up. I’m eligible for pre calculus.

Thank you

You’re never too old to go back to school and learn, and particularly not at 27. I’d recommend contacting their admissions office and asking questions - they’ll be able to guide you. Good luck.

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I took a 7 year break between high school and going to NY Maritime. The second best decision in my life. - Wife first !! You will have so many more options down the road -

If you can do it, do it. I knew guys in their 50s, and even one in their 60s that were in the license program at cal maritime when I went there. I was in my mid 20s when I started at cal.

You’ll have to cadet ship over the summers…that will eat up some time, but the rest of the summer I’m sure you could find something. When you go for commercial cruise you could try to pick a company that offers higher pay to their cadets. On summers when you’re on the training ship, if memory serves me correctly those cruises are only 2 months, then you have another 2 months off for summer where you could find some gig. Maybe even a 30-45 day relief job off the board SIU or SUP to help pay the bills.

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Is Mass Maritime ABET accredited? I’m not asking to be an ass - they were not when I was looking at them, but that was a while ago.

It’s NECHE accredited not ABET.

I thought it was. My mistake. I believe Cal maritime is ABET accredited

It looks like Cal, Maine, SUNY, KP and A&M are ABET accredited

Does anyone which one is the easiest to get into?

There’s not a whole lot of benefit to the ABET accreditation, unless you’re looking to get your PE.

My bet would be A&M…

Are you an engineer? Do you know anything about working in the engineering profession shore-side? Silly me, it’s a rhetorical question, because if you had any knowledge, you wouldn’t make such a foolish statement.

Original poster: skip the maritime academies and go to a real engineering school and get a mechanical, electrical, or marine engineering abet degree. You’ll have much more exposure to the STEM world to include cool research projects etc, and may find you don’t even want to go back to sea.

However, after graduating you find that you want to go to sea, you can just sit for your 3ae test because you have and ABET mech, elec, or marine engineering degree. You already have the required seatime, so you probably don’t even have to sail anymore. Read the law, it’s very simple.



My experience with shoreside engineering is being the son of a PE, who, when looking at colleges, told me if I was to go engineering, Mass Maritime wasn’t the place, since it was not ABET accredited.

I think only a handful of students passed the FE test in my class, and none of them went on to get their PE license.

My comment was made in relation to the sailing world, not shoreside. I would think there are better schools for shoreside engineering (if one is looking to earn their PE), than the maritime academies.

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There is an age limit for KP, but I don’t believe that the others have one.

Cal maritime looks really nice. The campus looks like a resort. And having the ability to pickup standby reefer and wiper jobs in Oakland would be a huge benefit. ABET accredited as well.

How much would the entirety of tuition and living on campus cost?

I’d definitely be looking to pass the professional engineer exam even if I plan only to sail on ships. Why waste the opportunity.

I feel like I’m in a pretty good place financially. I just need to pass calculus 1, chemistry 1, and engineering physics 1 here in Washington state. Admissions said the credits will transfer over. I’m eligible for pre-calculus so I’m really not too far away. I already have English 102 completed.

I’m actually sailing as a reefer on the APL Dakar at the moment. Currently in Busan

Thanks a lot for the replies so far. Very much appreciated.

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Sorry, my comment wasn’t about strictly sailing, like yours. I do partially agree that a PE might be less useful in the sailing world, but it can open other options if one wants to go shoreside.

My emphasis above that very few of your classmates passed the FE exam further proves my points that the education at the maritime schools is not what everybody makes it out to be. There is very little reason pass rate for the FE should be any lower than 80-90% for classes graduating from an ABET curriculum. The exam is not hard.

For a contrast, I don’t know of any of my peers that didn’t pass the FE when we all took it our senior year…but I only knew a small percentage of my entire class.

Again, why would you give up on a better education from a well regarded ABET engineering school when you don’t need the martime school to get you a license? You very likely have sailed more than most of the teachers at the maritime academies and could probably teach many of the classes you would have to take.


Ejanko you are still a young man. Nobody will tell you this but your prime years are your 50’s. Consider the Great Lakes Academy in Traverse City. It is a solid program and from my experience, nearly half the crew there are guys like you: previous military, sailors, etc. It is not as regimented as the other academies. If you can get Michigan residency the tuition is reasonable. Good luck.

Maine’s enrollment numbers are still way down from the pandemic. The kind of “sweet spot” for that school in any given year is between like 1000 and 1100-ish. Below that times are kind of lean and above it things start to get chaotic around campus. Right now they’re at about 850. Long story short: they’re not turning anyone away.

Schools aren’t ABET accredited. Programs are ABET accredited. I know for sure Maine has three - PET, MET, MSE. Only the latter two are marine license track programs.

If next-level math intimidates you, I suggest going the MET route. Tech. Calculus II is as far as you’ll have to go to get through that program (ezpz). Upon completion, you’ll have your 3rd A/E license, an ABET accredited engineering technology degree, and will qualify to sit for the FE exam.

90% of the difficulty in completing the above is time management. You’re a grown ass person now you’d crush it. Good luck!

It is difficult going to an Academy after having sailed.
I tried it and ended up graduating from Hawespiper U.

Just retired as Master, Oceans AGT.

Good luck!:four_leaf_clover::+1: