HVAC-R to QMED-Electrical/Refrigeration Engineer MSC

Hello fellows,
I’d appreciate it if I could get opinions, advise, suggestions and directions. I’m licensed universal ODP HVAC-R guy with a diploma in HVAC-R. I graduated in 2012 and worked as HVAC Tech for 2yrs before I joined the corporate world working as HVAC Quote Specialist, HVAC Consultant & my current role as Technical Projects Coordinator.

I’m getting bored sitting at the office Mon-Fri (now working from home). I feel less challenged because it has become a routine and I feel I’m not using my mechanical/technical skills acquired even though I work on the side as an independent tech. I love working with my hands.

I’ve always had a thing for working on planes or ships but never got the opportunity and I feel it’s time to go for it now. My current pay ($65,000/yr base) is good for a young man at 32 who has no family commitments but after working so hard to be 100% debt free for 3yrs now. I’m not motivated by money anymore & I feel wasted sometimes. I just want to enjoy working as an engineer in ships and travel the world.

I talked to MSC recruiter and he says even though I qualify for the QMED-Electrical/Refrigerating Engineer role but since I don’t have any sea time, I need to start as Wiper then after attaining 180 days I can take the QMED exam and get promoted to QMED. I have already applied for my TWIC, did my medicals & drug test for MMC (Submitting application for MMC next week).

Is it better to start as a Wiper with MSC or take a class to become QMED right away? How easy/hard is it to be promoted at MSC? Recruiter said I can be promoted after 180 sea time. Also any learning materials/guides that can help me if I want to take the QMED exams by myself? Thanks all & sorry for long post.

Sounds like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. Don’t bother with the courses; you’ll have no problem passing the QMED exams. Just study for the test while you’re out. I use the Mariner Advancement USB drive and the SeaTrials app.

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Concentrate on getting your MMC and finding your first job. If you don’t have the required days all you are is a dude with entry level papers.

You can not take a QMED class and become a QMED without sea time. Look at the checklists on the USCG’s NMC website to verify the requirements.

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Thanks Rustbucket,
I just downloaded Sea Trials and it has QMED. I like it already. I’ll look into the Mariner Advancement USB as well. I do appreciate it.

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Thank you Chief. I appreciate the brutal honesty. I will concentrate on my MMC and getting my first job as a mariner. Stay blessed.

I will catch a bunch of shit for mentioning my other son who is a HVAC tech. It is hard thankless work, and makes around the salary you quoted. The advice you are asking for is spot on. Working in rather warm areas I always welcomed a crewmember with HVAC experience and troubleshoot our reefers. Our rigs were painted white for a reason other than looking sharp. Get the paperwork you need, it will be ok. Good luck sir. Seadog is giving you the straight stuff. You have a good shot with your already acquired skills , but will have to get the documents to move on.Some may differ, but MSC ain’t a bad gig, Especially for a single man. It will entail long trips, never bothered me as a young man. you will bank a few more bucks down the road. Focus on the engineering side of things.

With the business as slow as it is, MSC might be your best bet. If you get on with oilfield, tugs or small vessels, wiper jobs are extinct. Most are OS or Utility jobs. Make sure your job description on you discharge certs or sea time letters are as deck/engine utility, DEU. This will go toward engine room time for QMED. You have excellent creds to start off with. Good luck!!


There are no classes top become a QMED without any sea time. Although courses and progeams can be approved for a portion of a sea time requirement, for QMED it cannot be more than half (3 months), see 46 U.S. Code 7315. And if there was something approved for the maximum allowed of 3 months, it wouldn’t be a simple, short “class.” It would need to be at least 4 to 6 weeks long (and expensive). And if you go with MSC, you’re probably going to have the full 6 months before you get off the ship.

Nobody moves up without seatime. You do have a well desired skill, get your MMC, your skill will be recognized by most. You have to put in the time aboard, there is no school to accelerate that process.

Thank you a lot sir. I got my MSC, Medical cert and TWIC. However, unfortunately MSC currently do not have any entry level opening.

Per Seadog and your advise, it seems starting as wiper is the real deal so I’ll wait until MSC has an opening for Wiper then I’ll get in with them. Thanks again and I do appreciate everything.

I wish you the best sir. Focus on the mmc, then approach the msc guy for any entry level spot you can get. Bring your resume with you. First mmc will be ordinary seaman and/or wiper Just get the seatime, then you can upgrade later on. It can be frustrating but remember, msc is government type job, and they are slow as hell. Have heard recently the hiring has picked up, but not sure which groups they are hiring, licensed people probably but be persistent. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t quit your job until you get confirmed to sail, or even join. Being in the right place at the right time helps. This pandemic and quarantine shit is problematic. Keep a bag packed and be ready to go on very short notice once you get in. Good Luck!

Hello all,
I’m very sorry for the late response. I got my MMC & Med Cert in November (after about 2 months). I already have my TWIC. MSC recruiter contacted me and he says MSC have no entry level opening now. I’m hanging tight and waiting on the recruiter to contact me when they have an opening.

I will take any entry level position either deck or engine just to get the sea time required to take my Refrigeration Engineer QMED test. Per the recruiter all I need is the sea time then I can can take my QMED. I do appreciate everyone’s advise, opinions and suggestions. Thank you all.

Where do you live? Check out some of the unlicensed unions.

Thanks for sharing this information. I’ll check them out. I’m in Ohio.

I applied at MSC today

I suggest that you contact all the Seattle based factory trawler, floating processor, and longliner companies. No MMC needed. They all need and value reefer skills. Many of them have huge reefer plants. You can get immediate well paid seatime. Contracts are typically two, three or four months. It’s 12 hour days so you get 1.5 days per day of seatime credit.

Once you have 90 days of seatime credit, go straight to a school with a Qmed program that offers 90 days of seatime credit, license prep, and the USCG test. You’ll be a 90 day wonder Qmed.

Alternatively, work 4 months straight on a factory trawler (for 180 days of seatime credit) make a pile of money, and then go take the qmed exam.

Another route would be to get a job as a deckhand/engineer or Deckineer on a small tug, crew boat or whatever. Work four months for 180 days of seatime credit, then go take the test.

Good advice.

Thanks for your advise. I do very much appreciate it. I called some companies in Seattle as you suggested but unfortunately their terms are not favorable with me because I’m in the midwest and not close to them.

I applied with MSC last month and I just got a notice that my application is being processed for further consideration. I have my fingers crossed and I’ll hang in there at my current corporate job until I get the offer from MSC.

As SeaEagle advised earlier, the free training with MSC is priceless & I can learn a lot more to help me pass my QMED easily if I decide to go with MSC. Though I’d have to sacrifice 6months for sea time but I see that as a good exposure and experience to test the waters with MSC to see if I’d want to stay with them. So far I’m very optimistic with MSC though I’d have to take a significant pay cut but money is not my motivation now. I want to learn and become one of the best engineers to ever in CIVMAR.