Newbie Questions

Hello all,

I currently hold a 50 ton Masters License (near coastal) I have enough accrued sea time during this issue to qualify for a 100 ton Master upgrade (also near coastal)

I have over 600 days of sea service accrued on a 65’ (64’9" to be exact) Fishing charter boat serving as Mate in the GOM that is registered at 66 Gross Tons

I am looking for a permanent career change into the merchant marine industry. Considering I have two children and a home to support entering the academy as a full time student with no income is not an option for me.

I am looking into a few schools to obtain my basic safety stcw95, Lifeboat and Able Body Seamen certifications.

Once I have completed these classes next month (already have my TWIC card) I will be sending in my packet for the renewal of my ticket, tonnage upgrade and endorsement addition. I am assuming I will qualify for a tonnage upgrade to 100 tons and my AB endorsement (most likely AB Limited OSV)

I would prefer not to sail internationally starting out, however GOM and inland would be my preferences. Having my 100 ton ticket, will I be able to find steady work easy?

I understand and am willing to start towards the bottom and work up, my goal is to eventually gain the experience to serve as a Deck Officer working my way up the ladder. Any Hints?

What sort of daily pay rate (or annual pay) could I expect for the first year?

What are the advantages to go union versus non union considering my ticket? If Union is the better way, then which one?

Which companies are easier to get hired by?

Any newbie advice would be greatly appreciated.