Highest paying jobs for fresh 3rd Mates in 2024?

I am graduating a state academy in September and have been reading up on unions and private companies. Where will a fresh grad make the most money? Ive considered OSV’s in the gulf, Deep Sea with a union, or coastwise ATB’s. I have a PIC endorsement a well as others such as VSO, RADAR, FRB, GMDSS etc. I am not afraid to work towards getting other endorsements to increase pay scale such as DP. The school doesn’t do a good job explaining the current job market or Unions. I have been considering AMO for deep sea however have heard MMP has more money to be made. Is this true? Also, how much can a fresh 3rd unlimited expect to make out of school? Any good private companies to work for? Any feedback is appreciated.

Unless you only plan on sailing for a few years that’s a really bad metric to use for where you want to go work.


I only plan on sailing for 5 years or so. I am mainly looking to make as much cash as I can in that time however, benefits, job security and treatment are important as well. I guess a better question for me to ask would have been what union has the highest day rate for 3rds.

Then the question is do you just want to make money or do you want to be an experienced sailor and see the world?

If money is it then maybe the Gulf on OSVs.

If you want to get good experience as a ship’s officer then sail foreign with a union like the ARC car carriers with AMO or maybe TSP tankers.

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Why only 5 years? What’s after that? Seems like you’re wasting a lot of peoples time by only giving 5 years.

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Avoid these ships like the plague.

Why? I’ve only talked with one person with recent experience on the but she liked it and the money isn’t bad.

Family comes after that. Not gonna be gone half the year with a wife and kids at home.

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They work you like a dog, money is shit, never have time to get ashore. Bad ships. Never heard one good thing about any of them from anyone who’s ever been there. I’m surprised you found someone who said they liked it. ARC is also notoriously bottom of the barrel for the commercial contracts

This isn’t horrible, but maybe it’s not worth the work.

CM $985
2M $787
3M $680


Not sure why you’d think that. I’d say most people I know only sailed enough to upgrade. Then when they reach 2nd mate or upgrade to Chief Mate, move to a shoreside role. Most people don’t want to spend 20+ years at sea if they plan on having any kind of stable family life. If the kid was a kingspointer wanting to go straight to shoreside I’d agree with you though.


$680 for 3M is actually really good. A lot better than many non union gigs. Any catch? ARC is AMO and the only jobs you’ll get new in AMO are one of the many tankers they can’t fill? Is that it?

That’s the understanding I have from friends who worked there.

It sounds like CM is a good gig there, though. But I think they run through junior mates pretty quick.

Lots of people make it work just fine. I love the time home and would feel very constrained by having a normal job with normal corporate hours.


So, you want a 9-5 grind with a shoreside job after marriage and kiddos? Best think long and hard about that. Yes, being gone isn’t great but if you can slot an ATB job or even time somewhere, 28/28 is a pretty good gig. Alternatively, even time on the Lakes from March to mid/late January isn’t bad, either.

When you are home, you are HOME. You go on field trips, scouts/sports trips, and for the time you are home you are there 24/7. No phone calls to come in on the weekend or work late, no cramming everything in from 1700 Friday to dinner time on Sunday. The honey-do list gets done, you have time for YOU (I happen to be a die hard trout angler and bird hunter so my work schedule is set to accommodate that).

Sit down with a calendar and figure how much time you have in a shore gig vs sailing. Ok, full disclosure I really like my job and when I am aboard the boat that is my thing, but come crew change day the wife and I are planning our next adventure and she has the dog ready, the boots waxed, and the necessary “accessories” in the trailer and ready to go when I get home.


Being at sea isn’t the best. It’s isolating and lonely, there’s a lot of unique characters you wouldn’t normally choose to associate with that you’re forced to live with for a significant percentage of your life, you can’t go home at the end of the day.

Having a land job isn’t the best. The pay is often not the greatest compared to what you can make out at sea, you have a shit ton more bills and less income, less potential for fun because of less time off, you still have to deal with shitty people and office politics, etc

I find people that complain about being at sea are generally those who haven’t experienced the other side. Maritime academy grads and people who don’t know anything else. Being a land lubber isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, in all honesty, it sucks too. No reason to look at it with rose colored glasses. Imagine being constrained to that 9-5 M-F for the rest of your life with no hope of anything else. It’s soul destroying. Just because your home all the time doesn’t mean your close to your family mentally or emotionally.

What I think it boils down to is that being beholden to another man for your paycheck can suck, regardless where you are or what you do. Since most of us have to work to survive and want to have spending money to pay for our hobbies, going to sea really isn’t a bad way to do it. If you play your cards right, you can be more in charge of your destiny than many other industries and careers. The only perfect job is “Lottery Winner.” Surely, even that has it’s drawbacks. Life is all about regaining perspective when you’ve lost it, so you don’t become old, miserable and bitter.


@Sailor22 Way to copy my username. Unoriginal.
……You’ll make no money now you’ve cursed yourself.
Give up and look into applying to Starbucks

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-What does a man need - really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all - in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?-

From “Wanderer” by Sterling Hayden (the actor and all-around badass Merchant Mariner, US Marine, and hippie)


You may as well just go MSC, work 4 years out of 5, bank around $500k, have upgraded to CM by the time you are done. Go get married, kids, pay cash for your house, enjoy life.

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Yeah def go MSC you’ll make a bunch of money there for only 5 years. They need you bad. You are wanted there.