I have just been offered a position as a Fisherman with the NOAA. I would appreciate feedback from anyone who has worked for the NOAA in the past or present. I currently hold a AB Unlimited ticket, lifeboatman, basic safety and hold a 100 ton master’s ticket. It appears that my Masters ticket is useless with NOAA, I would appreciate any feedback regarding time off, working environment, schedules, potential for advancement, ect. I have been all over the NOAA website and nothing seems to be carved in stone regarding these issues.
I’ve been looking into NOAA employment lately myself, and the consensus is that its a pretty good deal. Coincidentally, we have just about the same qualifications. I just finished an AB course at AVTEC here in Seward, AK and shortly will have completed the RFPNW class. The feedback is that NOAA is interested in improving their workers through training and so forth. Seems like a good place to get a footing.
My question for you is how did you get hired as “Fisherman” and what exactly do you think that will entail?
I have extensive commercial and charter fishing experience as a mate and 100 ton captain which qualified me for the position of Fisherman. Basically we catch fish for research purposes using nets, ect, ect. I am hoping for comments regarding time at home, life at sea with NOAA, ect.
When you get assigned to a vessel you do not work rotation but I believe you get to go home when the vessel is in port, assuming you live near the vessel’s home port (generally about 90 days per year). You also accrue leave while working, it used to be 1.5 days per month but it may have changed.
I don’t believe NOAA pays travel to or from the vessel’s homeport either. The only exception would be if you sail in their “Relief Pool”. This way ou are not permanently assigned to one vessel and they will pay for your travel to that vessel’s homeport.
I worked NOAA for a decade. I left in 2005.
A lot of the questions you are asking depends on the vessel.
But the basics are this,
When you are assigned a vessel you are basically there unless on paid vacation. Being brand new you will only get 4 hours per pay period of vacation, plus 8 hours shore leave per 15 days at sea. The shore leave is basically the same as annual leave but is placed in a different “bank” then the annual leave.
Advancement: Well that is pretty much capped on the deck side by the NOAA corp’s . They are the Masters and mates on most of the vessels. They are the Vessel shoreside operations managers. Yes there are some civilian mates and masters, but good luck getting one of those positions.
You can pretty much count on your pay being about 70% more then your base salary. This is because of overtime. Work week is 40 hours everything beyond 8 a day or 40 a week is overtime. Beware that some of the vessel department heads only give overtime to their “buddys”. So basically do not count on the overtime check.
On the “buddy” club on the vessels. Well the civilian mariners that stay with NOAA for a long period time tend to not be the best managers. They get promoted because they have been there not because they can do the job. This has a tendency to bring managers up that are insecure in the job therefore they want “suck-ups” and people who know less then they do around. If you have more skills then this type of manager, recognize that soon, conform to what they want or move on. Otherwise the job will become painful.
I was a Chief Engineer on the fleet flagship before I left.
If you want to know more just contact me.
Thank you for the post, to be sure I understand regarding home time, it sounds as if it is similar to when i was in the Army. I was full time, with 2 weeks, and then eventually 30 days off per year (home time) otherwise I belonged to the Army. Advancement sounds discouraging as I currently hold a tiny 100 ton Masters license and an AB unlimited, sounds like if I took this job I would remain limited and possibly lose opportunity for license advancement.
Currently I run a charter fishing boat and get to be home every night. a 30 and 7 or a 60 and 14 would be fine but cannot be away all the time (2 daugters and a wife I am crazy about)
You should be aware that the NOAA Corps ‘officers’ normally hold no USCG license. They aren’t exactly what one would consider professional mariners. That being said it’s not a bad gig from what I hear. The problem is the lack of time off which is just like the problem with MSC. It’s a government job so there are a few benefits to that and NOAA mariners come under either SIU or MEBA though you aren’t required to pay dues.
What vessel have they offered to employ you on?
The gulf coast fisheries vessels are based out of pascagoula ms. (probably did not spell that right). Those vessels go out for 2 week cruises tops. They are mostly crewed by people that are locals.
One plus with NOAA for you is this, They did have a mate training program. That program may still be in place. They will pay for all your classes to get an unlimited mates license. Ask them that. They will reply back with something like “if you obligate yourself to NOAA for a minimum of two years”. The contract they would have you sign for two years is basically not legally binding. So you could get your unlimited and bail.
Have you worked some of the Oil patch vessels?