Non traditional newbie questions

ok so getting right to the point here im completely new to this site and trying to gather information on the maritime industry. Most posts I read from other newbie’s ask about stcw classes and the current job openings. From browsing through this site I got a good understanding of what I must do to get my foot in the door and I realise that the economy has slowed the hiring process down a bit. There are some questions however that have been puzzling me and there is no where else I can find a answer to them besides the experienced mariners on this site. So without further adieu here are a few of those questions. I thank you in advance.

-How many people do you know or heard of make a career change into the maritime/tug and barge industry. Do they like it? regret it?

-Would having a college degree in something totaly unrelated to this field like,oh lets say archaeology and history have no affect on the hiring process because this field is based solely on experience or would it help because it shows you have some ambition to learn and work hard?

-What happens if you get sick and cant perform to your best ability while on the boat? do they let you hang back untill your better or do they work with a man down?

-From a ordinary seaman and Able bodied seaman position do you work unsuppervised and expected to find work to do on your own or do you have someone telling you specific duties to complete one after another?

-Is there any downtime while on duty or is it constant hard work for your 6 hrs on duty?

oh and BTW im going to the Chesapeke Bay maritime training institute in a few weeks for their entry level seaman training class for a week so any thoughts on that school/class good or bad would be greatly appreciated.

Oh and one last question.I see that a majority of you have been in this field for a while and are now making a considerable amount of money a day $300 plus as a tankerman or mate. How long would it take to get from entry level ordinary seaman to those types of positions with that pay granted one would take the necessary traing classes at the earliest they could depending on seatime.

previous unrelated work experience is always a plus, it shows some brains and a modicum of competance if nothing else. try not to think of yourself better than anyone onboard, since you’ll be working with a cross section of society.
shifting careers mid-stream (get it? lmao) is cool. I’m working right now with a number of them onboard my ship.
different companies have different policies on sickness. usually its work till you can’t safely perform.
new deckhands will have the Bosun giving them jobs. You will be working with an experienced AB who will show you what to do & how to do it. ask questions & learn. you may be the teacher next time.
6 or 12 hour work days… plenty of downtime, don’t worry. coffee breaks. tool-box meetings. smoke breaks. etc.
if you apply yourself, try to learn, don’t let drugs/alcohol sidetrack your progress, keep track of your seatime, have a good working relationship with your co-workers, and upgrade when you can there is no limit to your upward mobility. actual numbers depend on the sector of industry you enter: low end is cruise ships, supply boats, tug boats. upper end is Oil & Gas Exploration & Development. In your case, I would apply to Pacific Drilling as soon as possible: Ultra Deepwater Drilling in the Oil & Gas Industry. cool work, top $$.

On the tugs I work you work a 6hrs on 6hrs off underway. The capt. or mate will give you projects on the boat to do but it’s always encouraged for the deckhands to find a project and work on painting or cleaning something. As for starting from the bottom the quickest I have seen someone go from deck to 2nd mate where I work is about 4years because of the time required to get the sea-time and apprentice mate portions of your license taken care of. Same goes for the being sick work if it’s safe too. Hope this helps.

[QUOTE=richard8000milesaway;50347]low end is … tug boats. [/QUOTE]

Hey… I resemble that remark!

Max: I know I am going to start this, and take some heat from some. But it is too early for you to assume you CAN matriculate UP and assume a watchstanding Mates job. The end numbers are the destination. You have to determine IF you can fill the shoes to walk to the destination. I say this because I have seen many guys who are EXCELLENT deckhands, who got a license and when it came time, they didn’t have the verve and confidence to be able to ‘assume a watch.’ Some of the guys I know are Maritime graduates who don’t for whatever reason easily (or at all) make the transition (although if you ask them, they are the greatest!).

I would recommend you first put your sights on trying it out, to see if you even like being gone from terra firma for extended time. Then as the army says, be all you can be. When you have firmly grasped the deckhands job, then work to getting a license and a Mates job.

[QUOTE=cappy208;50349]Hey… I resemble that remark![/QUOTE]

low end in the salary range, not in the professionalism of many tugboatmen. I have seen first-hand that it takes nerves of steel and fancy boat handling to man-handle some of those tug boats.

Well said Cappy. While I don’t consider $500.00 plus a day to do almost nothing some days on a tug to be the low end of anything, I may be wrong. By the way Maxpwr we use a rule book to tell us when we can upgrade and such. It is called the code of federal regulations. It comes in parts. The one most used is 46CFR parts 1-40. Also there are many here who can help steer you along. The best thing is to just get out there on anything a see what you like. I spent the first 15 years trying on vessels before I decided that I prefered ocean going tugs. To each their own
Goog luck

Greetings maxpwr48, welcome to the board…

  • I know of people who transition into the career from other careers. Some like it, some don’t. It can be a tough industry in many ways; long time spent away from family, can be physically demanding, you could get stuck with a group of people that you may not get along with for extended periods of time with fewer opportunities for privacy than you may be used to. On the other hand, it can offer great opportunities for advancement, you could end up working with a great crew that becomes like a second family. I don’t know about people who switch in to the field as a career change, but I’ve heard it said that there’s about a 50-60 percent attrition rate after about 2 years for new guys coming in.

-I can’t speak from the HR side, but generally you’d expect that people would appreciate someone with a degree, even if it’s not related to the field. On the other hand, this is an industry that has a tradition of learning everything from the bottom up. Guys come in as an OS, and they learn from there. It’s still certainly possible to start with no college education as an OS and progress up to one of the various levels of Master, although that gets tougher as the years go by. Not all work their way up to the top. There are guys who are content being OS’s, AB’s, Wiper’s and Oiler’s (or whatever), and have no desire with being the Mate, Chief Engineer or Master (or whatever). The best Tankerman I ever worked with didn’t have a degree, and sometimes I questioned the safety of the vessel when some of the lettered mates were in charge.

-As Richard says, companies have different policies about sickness, and when he says “…work till you can’t safely perform” he’s dropping some serious knowledge on you there. Safety is taken very seriously onboard vessels, as it should be. If you feel like you need help, ask. If you don’t understand what’s expected of you, ask. If you don’t think you can do something, let someone know. If you’re getting sick, let your team know.

-As an OS, you’ll be supervised closely, working with other OS’s and AB’s (and mates, engineers or masters from time to time). Sometimes you may be tasked to do something and be left alone. This will vary depending on the task, the work that needs to be done and the aptitude/attitude of the individual sailor. When you’ve finished the tasks or whatever, and you’re still on duty, it’s best if you find yourself some project or new task. There’s always something to do. Everyone likes a self starter. If you can’t figure out something to do, ask. Don’t hide, though, not cool…

As for classes and certs, you should have your OS, TWIC, Passport and Basic Safety Training certificate. (BTW, you’ll hear some people say shit like “I’ve got my STCW” when they mean BST. Don’t do that.) That’s a solid start…

A word about upgrading. With as little as 6 months of sea time, it’s possible to make your first upgrade. An AB - OSV requires 180 days, as does QMED. If you are working on a vessel that gives you 1 1/2 days for every day worked, it’s possible to advance after 4 months. A Tankerman (Barge) only requires 60 days (well, that, and a lot of documentation of loads and discharges). If you get your first job, say, on a tug that delivers fuel, and are attentive to the details, you could move up the “ladder” quite quickly.

Again, welcome. You can make it if you want to. Now’s a tough time, jobs are tight, but it’s certainly possible to get work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions here (but please make abundant use of the search feature!) and let us know how you’re doing.

Oh wow thank you all for the information this realy helps. Im only 27 but I feel like I should of had a good start with a company already whether it be in the maritime industry or not, this sucks that what I went to school for wasnt going to work out. I wanted to be an underwater archaeologist but there just isnt many full time jobs out there for that career. Growing up within a stones throw of Lake Erie I wanted to get somesort of job on or near water and this looked alot more promising than continuing on to grad school for a job that may not be there when I graduate. I guess what got me interested in this field is that my uncles is a captain of a tug somewhere in NYC and says he makes realy good money, he said around $700 a day and started in this field and worked his way up, he started when he was younger then me. I dont know what company he works for but he mentioned he is in some 333 union. This will be sutch a change in work environment for me because basicily I had desk jobs working in the mental health field but Im not interested in doing this line of work the rest of my life and want to work outdoors. But I have a strong back and the amount of money you can make fairly quickly is motivating me to do this. Oh and I know I shouldnt be picky but im realy only interested in the 14/14 rotation I just dont think I would be able to leave home for any longer than that. So with that said can anyone name a few companys on the east coast that will hire a OS and that has a 14/14 rotation. Thank you all for the info again.