Just getting started in the industry ? should I go for it


First off ,Great site you have created ,

I am almost 50 years old and have had a midlife career change ,looking to get into the maritime field ,not afraid of hardwork and starting at the near bottom
could my experience in non shipping be applied ? iI wish I could figure out what lic.and or certificates to go after first
I am very Mechanicaly inclined being a machinist for over 30 years ,owned and operated 2 business so that gives me supervisory and management and interpersonal skills.
for the last 10+ years i have operated 50 foot sportfishing Vessels offshore including engine maintenenace ,vessel saftey .The license that i hold is a 100ton NC With commercial assistance towing

Am i too old ?
Am i kidding my self ?

can you reccomend a good place to start i.e. Schools,Associations Etc.

Would be great to hear from the seasoned proffesionals in the industry as to what direction I could take .



BobF, I have a very similiar situation ,like you, I owned a couple of business in another sector of transportation. I have a small license and was able to round up enough seatime to get an AB .That is one place to start.The AB sure helps to open some doors. I’m finding that the recruiters that I have talked with have found favor with us older guys brining some life experiences with us.
I’m on my way down to LA . this morning so I’ll let you know what I find out…


Thanks for the reply

what AB did you get I have noticed there are several different ones , I assume it is by tonnage and or experience

my seatime is all on 50 foot on avg rec boats


I started off in the industry when I was 18 and now I am in my mid thirties and I have spent a lot of time and money to get my unlimited license. If I was starting out fifteen years from now, I would have to say I was only doing it for the love of the job and the sea because there wouldn’t be enough money or respect in it for me at that age and level to make it personally equitable. Not trying to bust any bubbles…just my own opinion.
Good sailing and have a safe watch.



Well Said Bluenose ,these are the type of personal experience answers i am looking for to hepl me in my quest or re-direction


BobF, click here for sea-time flyers that should answer your AB / QMED certification and most limited-tonnage licensing questions (deck & engineering). Click here for school & training links and click here for job links.
Good luck.


Supreme Alaska Seafoods operates a 367’ Fish Processing vessel out of Seattle, WA.
They are crewing up for their winter season, looking for entry level engineroom help. Apply TODAY.
No MMD, STCW needed. Low wages but only a few months commitment. Give that a try and see if it works for you. The engineroom time can be applied towards a QMED later.


No, 50 is not too old to be out here. Is it a disadvantage? Possibly, but not as much as your lack of time at sea.
A few words of wisdom…
The mechanical experience you have mentioned makes me think you are considering the engineering side of things. This, to me seems the logical path and where you would most likely be able to sell yourself to an employer. Without the background you mentioned you would be just an older greenhorn.
The biggest challenge you face is this industry has become a paper driven workplace. The more documents (licenses, endorsements and certificates) you have, the more attractive you are to potential employers. Unfortunately, to get the documents you need accrue sea time. The catch 22 all you new guys are facing.
Bob, the same stuff applies to you as it does everyone else. Take a look at some of the older posts related to “looking for a job”. Use the wisdom you have gained all those years you have been around to network yourself to anyone who is looking for people and pound the pavement. A lot of the boat companies are running non licensed personnel in the enginerooms and you will be able to work towards some of the documents that will give you more oppourtunity.

Good luck to you


I was on the bridge one night and the 63 year old OS that just started with the company and had never been offshore before in his life came up and wanted to talk about his career. Dead serious about what he wanted to do and accomplish in whatever years of working he had left.
Another 50 ton Master (7th issue) and AB that was close to 60 years old getting his Mate OSV doing his OMSA assessments for the mate’s license.
Late 40’s retired marine trying to get his Mate OSV, same story. He is sailing mate right now doing a great job.
My Dad sailed as a 100 ton Master on a utility boat for 30 plus years. He made a decent living and financially provided for four children with a 100 ton license.

You have the 100 ton license already. There are some very nice vessels out there that you can run as the captain of and make a good living. I would probably go that route. Get on a Mini supply vessel that has DP. Experienced Guys on those DP Utility boats are making north of 400 a day. Realistically you could start out around 350 per day. I am not real sure what the 100 ton guys are getting these days. Get the training and experience at a company while you are making your mind up. You aren’t even 50 yet. Damn you could be working for another 20 years. Especially with all this share the wealth we are getting ready to experience. I understand what Blue nose is saying, because I am in a similar situation as him. I am 35 and almost there on my Chief Mate and have spent a ton of money on schools, training, missed work and missed birthdays, but not everyone wants to be an Unlimited Master, and you can still make a good living without it.
If you wanted to prove something you CAN get an Unlimited license before you retire. Get your 500 ton license, your 1600 ton, your 3rd and 2nd Mate license, then your Chief Mate and then Master. Just be advised that you will be in school almost everytime off the boat for the next 6-9 years.


I was talking to Chris at Seafarers International Union (SIU) in Tacoma, WA.
He said the best way to go for a new guy was the SIU unlicensed apprentice program. You walk in off the street, pay $1500, live at the school in Pinney Point, MD for free, and after 7 months you walk out an AB with B-Book seniority.
Chris added thats the fastest cheepest way to go if youre considering unlimited union ships.
About age… he asked how old I was and I said 55. He said, oh good and added they recently had a 70 year old complete the program who is now working as an AB.
Check out the website.


Piney Point is nice- 6 story hotel- right on the water- basketball courts, weight room, bar (not for the cadets) library,a pond with a fountain, and acres of manicured lawn…


50 is not to old to change. Who knows you might find out you like this more. Basically like any other landlubber entering this field you have one choice. GET A MERCHANT MARINERS DOCUMENT. Then get the TWIC card (transportation workers identity card) and a Passport. With those documents you become somewhat useful. Total cost less than $500.00. With your engineering background you should be able to get a position on a tugboat or other uninspected vessel. This would allow you to build some sea time. Lacking all that you can try M.I. Swaco down in Amelia, La. to try out the industry. They hire non documented deckhands because they operate small inland towboats. When you get the documents you can e-mail if you would like and I will be more than happy to suggest a few companies.
If I am out towing it may take a bit to get back to you.


I did not see that you have a 100 ton NC license. Sorry, I would try rig moving on tugs as a unlicensed engineer and get your apprentice steersman then up to towing mate.


BobF - You’re never too old unless you think you are…chase it man !!!


Wow ,Thanks all for the direction and encouragement

Capt Lee , I like the idea of running a mini supply vessel .one question what is DP

Bob, School sounds like the way to go , but would not have any income for several months and that would be too tough .


DP= Dynamic Positioning


That is the Funny thing. When I was on 100 ton boats everything was manual. You had to “crewboat” all the lifts on and off the boat or tie up. Now, there are computer systems on the boat that hold the boat in position for you. Several different name brands, Kongsberg, Nautronics, Frank Beier, MT, etc. All you have to do is learn how to operate the system and the references, which if you know how to open a solitaire or mine sweeper game on a lap top… you can operate a DP system. There are two one week classes to attend plus documented time on a DP vessel. First you go to the Basic DP class which is 5 days. Then you go back to the vessel and get the required 30 days of sea time on the DP system and get signed off on the various competencies in the book they issue you at the basic class. Then return for the Advanced class which is another week. Then go back and do I think 180 days (It may be one year) on a DP boat. You then send in your book with the documented days and signed off by the Captain to the Nautical institute and they send you back a DP Operator’s Certificate. The beauty of it is most companies pay for these classes and then they pay you more to do less. The guys on the boat manually offloading at the platforms and rigs are getting paid less to do more. I could not believe it. I worked the crewboats for a few years, when I went to the supply boats and anchor handlers I was like I get paid more to do this. Hell yeah. Let’s keep this to ourselves.


I would have to agree with Capt.Lee 100%. While he was on the anchor boats, he did do less.


You will unfortunately have to deal with smarta$$'s so thin skin need not apply.


BobF -

For what it is worth, I was hired on a second captain with a crewboat company last fall, and celebrated my 61st birthday during my first hitch. I have a 100 T NC, 6th issue, and had been working in the recreatation marine industry, and had no experience in the oil patch. One first captain I worked with was still crawling when I got my first issue, and another was younger yet. But I haven’t felt any age issues. Most people treat you the way you treat them - and respect you as you respect them.

I’m getting great expericne and am on going for my 500 T in about a year, and see where that goes.

I’m going through life on the 50/50 plan. First 50 years trying a lot of things, and the second 50 years focusing on what I really want to do…

Good luck!