Okay, so I am not a professional writer or researcher, but I wanted to pass along some information I learned last week that might help others.
My journey began right here on GCaptain a long time ago. I spent countless hours reading forums, getting advice, and making the decision to get my licenses and endorsements from the Coast Guard. I had a maritime background in the military, an AB license, a small boat Master and Mate license and my bags packed. With that knowledge I thought I would be a great candidate to work on a supply or crew boat in the oil patch in the Gulf of Mexico. And partially I was right, but my timing was terrible.
If you read GCaptain at all, you know roughly the top 5 stories right now are about falling oil prices, oil rig shut downs, and the glut of oil now thanks to oil export rules and OPEC production. Needless to say, NOT a good time to try and find work as a deckhand in the Gulf of Mexico.
But, I knew I had a try anyway. So with my license in hand, my bags packed, and a three page list of companies to see everywhere between New Orleans, Lafayette, and Port Forchon, I headed for South Louisiana for a two week door knocking trip.
Things started off bad right away. I met with one big supply boat operator who spent an hour with me discussing the state of market. Over the next few days, his wisdom was proved over and over again. It seems most of the smaller companies are parking boats right now. Take a trip to Port Forchon and you’ll see them parked 4 and 5 deep. The bigger companies are moving boats out of the Gulf of Mexico to places like Brazil and the North Sea. Even one very large supply boat company (you know who I’m talking about) showed me a two page list of current employees they are trying to find spots for.
So what does this have to do with $72,000??? Three things: one, there are still some jobs out there, two, persistence pays off, and three, you better know you’re ready to go and not just THINK you’re ready to go.
Let me explain. At the end of the first week, I got my first call back. It was with a very small outfit (5 boats) that did more stuff than just direct oil field supply work. I went into the interview positive and ready to work. I was offered an AB position on the spot with a start date in two days at $300 per day (Or $72k over 240 work days in a year). All I had to do was go pass the physical. After drug screens, medical checks and x-rays, everything seemed OK. That was, until the MRI…yes an MRI for a deckhand spot. It seems I have a pinched nerve in my neck that I didn’t even know I had. I was then told that without clearance from a neurosurgeon I couldn’t work on a boat. The job offer (and the $300/day) was then rescinded right on the spot. I never even got to the agility testing because of the MRI results.
So, to make a long story short, my three year dream of working in the Gulf of Mexico is over. I’m probably going to just throw my license away since it’s worthless anyway. But, I just wanted to pass along this information so others planning on door knocking know what to expect.
The good news is that many of the companies are looking for good AB cooks and electronic techs. Also, I want to point out that this report is from the point of view from the deckhand level. I can’t comment on the big license employment outlook, so please don’t take this as an all encompassing market report.
Good luck out there.