I’m dually licensed, lower level. From my experience I feel its a toss up. Some employers like it, some don’t.
I am a hawsepiper, and started out on the deck side. Early in my career, being on smaller vessels, I racked up sea time as an unlicensed engineer. A few years ago I figured, I had the sea time…might as well get an engine license too. I assumed being dually licensed, I’ll always have a job. One may think from an employers perspective, that someone that can be a good utility hand and fill any capacity would be beneficial to the company. I’ve learned that that always doesn’t apply.
There was one potential employer that told me it wasn’t a plus for them, because it sent them mixed signals. They wanted someone that was dedicated to one side or the other.
My current employer felt the opposite about it. I’m working as a master right now, but I know that having an engine ticket helped me get the job… .(I’m running a vessel that doesn’t require a chief, so my boss likes I have some knowledge because the deckhands don’t lol)The sad thing about it is I’m making wages I was making about ten years ago. Although I am grateful to be employed during these stagnant times, it’s a bit of a bummer to not be reaping the rewards of going through the hassle of being dually licensed. Hassle being, additional stcw classes and such.
But then again, maybe the reward is just being employed?
I hope this helps. Putting my personal story aside, I’d say get whatever you can get. Because the more you have, the more marketable you are…and in my opinion its never a bad idea to invest in yourself. Be sure that you ARE willing to do deck and engine, because at some point you can expect to be pidgeon- holed into one or the other. In general there are more opportunities for engineers than deckies. SO make sure you don’t mind bilge diving.