Is Self-study available, as opposed to maritime academy training to save money?

Are there any programs where I could self-study for the various ratings up to say…3rd mate unlimited oceans? Would there then be any available training voyages or sea terms with whatever testing or assignments that would entail? I already have a bachelor degree, and I can’t see sitting in a classroom again at a maritime academy. In fact, I would be happy to start as a deckhand. It would give me a opportunity to see if I would be suited for this career.I did all self-study for my commercial pilot ratings, then I took any practical flight tests or written exams when I was ready. How do you get an entry-level position on a ship? I imagine a deckhand job would be hard to obtain for a beginner. I am in Arizona, so it wouldn’t be a big deal for me to drive to ports in Southern California to apply

I’m in the same boat as you, I have a bachelor’s degree. Some academies have a program that will put you into a 3rd mate unlimited license in less than 3 years, but it seems a big commitment to know that you are going to study for 2 1/2 years before working, and it’s expensive. SUNY has a graduate program that does the same thing. I think it’s two years. If I had money, I’d seriously consider that. I don’t think anyone can get a 3rd mate unlimited in that time span on their own. SIU has a program at the Paul Hall center at Piney Point that will get you to a AB special in 11 months. It doesn’t cost anything except the fees for the uniform and all your licensing and testing fees upfront. You make that back during your time at Piney Point because they give you a stipend and then you work on a ship for 4 months at the end. I’m seriously considering that, but if you drop out before it ends, you won’t get any sea time or credit.

Aside from that, I imagine it’s pretty difficult to get a job without experience in this economy. Piney Point sounds attractive to me because of the first guaranteed union job. I’ve been watching a few job sites for OS positions and they never seem to come up, at least not while I’ve been watching them. Other advanced positions are more commonly advertised. I did see a deckhand job at a seafood company, but I’m not sure that you earn the same amount of sea time on fishing ships when you’re a deckhand.

The fastest route to 3rd mate unlimited by far is the SUNY Grad License program. I know at least one guy that completed it in under two years. He is now sailing with MSC. Most students complete it in two and a half years.

It is a huge commitment in time and money.

The hawsepipe route will take much longer as you will need to work your way through OS, AB and all of the required schools.

[QUOTE=silverbk;61198]The fastest route to 3rd mate unlimited by far is the SUNY Grad License program. I know at least one guy that completed it in under two years. He is now sailing with MSC. Most students complete it in two and a half years.

It is a huge commitment in time and money.

The hawsepipe route will take much longer as you will need to work your way through OS, AB and all of the required schools.[/QUOTE]

Well on the hawspipe side, correct me if im wrong you need 720 seadays to upgrade to mate …but the thing about it you are making 50,000$ to 72,000 a year From being OS to AB instead of getting a student loan…many OSV companies pay for your trainings.

I thought sea time was around 1200 days to get a license? You can earn 50k a year working your way up for 4 years if you stayed on the ship continuously or you pay 40k for a college education and make 100k a year right out of school.

[QUOTE=brjones;61373]I thought sea time was around 1200 days to get a license? You can earn 50k a year working your way up for 4 years if you stayed on the ship continuously or you pay 40k for a college education and make 100k a year right out of school.[/QUOTE]

If you will be on a 12 Hr watch like those OSV you only need 720 seadays which is 3 years on a 28/14 rotation…in my case I dont have money to support my family, if I go to
college for two years not to mention the student expenses…so I did went to OSV OS w/c paid me 40K- 48K a year but didnt even finished a year to upgrade to AB OSV because only needs 180 days of seatime (12 hr watch) w/c paid me 64K-72K a year…spends 2 years as AB then upgrade as mate and get paid 97K-102K…Now working on my master 1600
after I get my 2 years as a mate…then hopefully get paid 136K-192K a year…

The sea time requirement is 1080 days(8 hour days) for 3rd mate unlimited. Plus you must be on vessels more than 200 GRT, and you will have a tonnage limitation if 50% of your time is not on vessels over 1600 GRT.

You will also have to factor in all the schools and additional training you will need. Like BRM, GMDSS, Flashing Light, Lifeboatman, Collision Avoidance, Stability etc. Remember you won’t be able to accrue sea time while you are attending these schools. So in reality it will take you much longer, even for highly motivated people.

If you did a spread sheet, and amortized all your training expenses and income over a twenty year career. An academy will be cheaper and get you a better job. You will end up with more income earned. This is assuming that you already have a bachelors degree that is not earning you any money.

However in my original post I stated that the SUNY route is faster, I did not state that it is cheaper, which it is, if you look at the big picture.

It’s not for everyone, but if you can make the commitment you will be in the pilot house much faster.

I too thought about a maritime academy, but couldn’t afford it. went to sea (MSC) in Dec of 1999 and sat for my third mate ticket by Dec of 2004. No loans, no debt. Of course, that route isn’t for everyone, but it worked for me. I was a day worker, didn’t have a lot of bridge exp so the classes (PMI) were a little tough at first, but not too bad.
It is tougher for folks who have families, etc, because I was off work for 6 months with the classes, still paying rent, buying gas and groceries and paying for the classes (got reimbursed for tuition)…so if you do this, you definitely want to make sure your financial ducks are in a row.

As far as hawsepipers go…there are benefits to both routes. You’ll have a degree out of the academy and when you tire of always being away from home, having no life, etc, you might be able to take that degree and find a job ashore. An academy grad will definitely be more comfortable on the bridge. BUT, hawsepipers have it all over the school kids when it comes to working on down deck–cargo, rigs, etc. We generally have more street cred out the gate with the unlicensed folks as well. And as far as captains go…I’ve worked for Captains who respected the hawsepiper cred, and I’ve worked for captains who made it clear that I’d never be clean enough for 'em…something about the academy polish I guess I just didn’t have for him. Oh well.

Either way it’s going to take a bold commitment. Don’t start either way unless you’re firmly committed…it’s not easy, but then and again, nothing worth doing ever is.

Just my two cents, take it for what it’s worth.
Cheers and sail safe!

[QUOTE=ordinaryseawomn;61381]I too thought about a maritime academy, but couldn’t afford it. went to sea (MSC) in Dec of 1999 and sat for my third mate ticket by Dec of 2004. [/QUOTE]

How did you get that first job with MSC? I’ve been watching their website for a long time and they never advertise any entry level deck jobs, other jobs, but not things like OS.

[QUOTE=MariaW;61388]How did you get that first job with MSC? I’ve been watching their website for a long time and they never advertise any entry level deck jobs, other jobs, but not things like OS.[/QUOTE]

I called and asked if they were hiring…of course that was 13 years ago, when the internet was still young…I think I called from a pay phone! Nowadays, you’d probably have to go in entry level, in the steward dept, and then cross over…it’s kind of lame, but I guess they’re trying to be more selective. If you have any kind of sea going exp, play that up, and if you already have OS exp let them know. You might be hired as a steward util, but there’s a good chance you’ll be sent out as an ordinary. Even if you get sent out as an S/U once you get to the ship there’s a chance you could be put in a vacant ordinary slot.

Remember, you’re dealing with an office of the Federal Gov’mint so patience and perseverance in the face of absurdity is key! The Ch’mate on the ship I’m going back to was hired at the same time I was–we were in the same indoc class together–AND he was sent out as an S/U (I had some prior exp and went out as an ordinary)…and he’s been sailing 1/O for 3 or 4 years now…Not bad for a kid who was fresh out of high school. He’s 32-ish, has his cap’n’s ticket and should be putting in for the next promotion board.

Good luck to you!

You only need four classes beyond basic STCW for 3rd mate. 1.5 years after you have your AB you can test for 1600 mate. As soon as you have another year of sea-time on appropriate tonnage you can get 3 rd mate with no further testing. One year after that 1600 master and 2nd Mate unlimited. In 3 years on OSV’s you can have 3rd with no out of pocket expenses. Making 70-100k a year instead of spending. Sounds like a no- brainer to me.

Funny everyone talks about just get a job with so and so then get your time and move up. Yet the board is filled with people who can’t find work.

Yeah well, I say it because I did it, and so have many others. I prefer to be positive to new posters and tell them they can do it as well. I guess I could say the truth which is if you can’t find a job it is probably your own fault.

I’ll second that! People are to dam selective. Come down to the bayou and get on a boat, any boat just to get some sea time and experience.Stick it out for a year and move on to better things if you want. I’m in the ship yard right now with a guy who’s never even seen the ocean that’s sailing as deck hand on a mini supply. That time does count towards you’re AB OSV.

Matter of fact the last 6 months a I’ve been looking for work while I was upgrading I was all the time seeing guys with no experience getting hired. So it felt like out was easier to get hired with no experience then tons. My case I just had to finish taking all my classes.

Personally I feel MSC is a waste of time. Horrible pay, questionable crew changes, all on top of the joys of the bureaucratic nightmare that is the federal government. Plus they only hire like 3 times a year.

[QUOTE=Jemplayer;61409]

Personally I feel MSC is a waste of time. Horrible pay, questionable crew changes, all on top of the joys of the bureaucratic nightmare that is the federal government. Plus they only hire like 3 times a year.[/QUOTE]

Horrible pay compared to What? You got my attention on that one!

But well, yeah, it does kind of suck, I’m not gonna lie…long tours, short vacations…the upside is that a person can advance pretty quickly (all that sea time!)…I’d say it’s not a bad gig for a young buck looking to move up fast. That and in this economy, the job security’s pretty good.

I’ve been with 'em since I was young-ish free-wheelin O/S and they’ve treated me pretty well. I’ll probably look to the unions once I’m ready to slow down, take a pay cut and not be away from home so much.

BTW, what does it mean to get straight with Nate? Who is this Nate person? Man…I seriously do not want to have to retake Nav Gen!

I have been told that my engineering counter parts at MSC have to work over 9 months a year to make what I make in 6. Lots of horror stories I have heard from people not getting relieved in a timely manner. On the same token a couple guys I went I school with are still there after 10 years

After a recent class with about a dozen of MSC’s finest, its a damn wonder they can make it to the other side of the ocean.

[QUOTE=ordinaryseawomn;61410]Horrible pay compared to What? You got my attention on that one![/QUOTE]

Well according to MSC’s website a 2nd officer makes a base pay of around $65k a year. I know you can get over time and other things so it averages what? $75-$80k a year. I’m making $75k year base on a 500 ton master license working 6 months a year as a mate on an OSV. Most of the guys on here are 1600 ton masters working 9 months and making $144-$200k a year. A third mate on a drilling rig makes about the same, but only works 6 months.

Thinking your going to take a pay cut by leaving MSC is ludicrous. Most AB’s on union tugs make around $60k a year.

the upside is that a person can advance pretty quickly (all that sea time!)

If working 9 months straight is your idea of a good time sure, but I get 1.5 days of sea time by working on boats certified for 12 hour watches. Working a 28/14 for a year gets your 365 days of sea time. But you guys do get tonnage and that counts for a lot! I’ll be playing the tonnage game for the next several years as I work my way up to 3rd mate.

Also in the almost 8 years I have worked offshore I can count on one hand the number of times my crew change has been late, and the longest delay was about 6 hours I think. Sure I have been asked to work over a few times and said yes, but it would have been no big deal it I said no and went home.

Now by no means do I look down on what you guys MSC do. Yall have the same hoops and rules to follow that we do so, and yall provide invaluable service for this country. It’s just that sometimes people get so hung up thinking that MSC is the only game in town.

BTW, what does it mean to get straight with Nate? Who is this Nate person? Man…I seriously do not want to have to retake Nav Gen!

Nate is your good friend Nathaniel Bowditch the author of everyone’s favorite book of bedtime stories Pub. 9 The New American Practical Navigator! Everything a growing mariner needs to advance from deck to the wheel house.

I neglected to read this invaluable tome of knowledge and sadly had to retake nav gen as I had only glanced at it and thought I was alright with Nate. Hence my warning to all that wish to sit for their license exam.

I have to chime in on the MSC haters, myself being a self hater…presently employed and working on my 2nd “5 year plan…” (ready to find something new) think it’s a great start for the eager and willing…Eager to work, willing to take an initial hit on pay and status, to get their foot in the door and shine once you get onboard and quickly move up. You HAVE to get past the folks on the beach in VA and NJ, they live in their own little Govt world, they create and enforce the rules they then train and praise themselves on, it’s a check in the box you must get and a hurdle you must get over.

Get onboard a ship with a management team willing to watch you PERFORM and not just talk yourself up…and you’ll move up fast. I’m a C/M with the outfit now and have fast tracked many guys (and gals) that I met serving food as S/U’s, pushed to get them transferred to deck OS’s, then gave them free training for AB, Tankerman etc because of the outstanding work they did. I’ve also been burned by sticking my neck out for posers and ended up eating crow due to how incredibly inept they were…it’s all a matter of personal performance and pride in work ethic, if it’s there and you show it, it will be noticed and you can move up fast.

[QUOTE=Jemplayer;61426]

Nate is your good friend Nathaniel Bowditch the author of everyone’s favorite book of bedtime stories Pub. 9 The New American Practical Navigator! Everything a growing mariner needs to advance from deck to the wheel house.

I neglected to read this invaluable tome of knowledge and sadly had to retake nav gen as I had only glanced at it and thought I was alright with Nate. Hence my warning to all that wish to sit for their license exam.[/QUOTE]

Oh man everyone’s favorite book of bedtime stories?!? What fresh hell did you grow up in???

But yes, Nate holds LOTS of answers for Nav General!