Online STCW courses 2023 (and more questions)

Hey all, since my last post a few weeks ago I’ve been hard at work to get a game plan together. My last post received so many helpful and informative responses, including a few urging me to expedite my plan to delve into the industry. In heeding of that advice, I’ve spent the last few weeks getting the ball rolling. Part of that includes increasing my current workload to 65-70 hr/wk to be financially prepared, so please bear with me as I’m a bit exhausted and only have so much free time for independent research.

I’ve applied for my TWIC and have an appointment scheduled for ID verification and have found an STCW BT course that I plan to attend the final week of September. I’ve been advised to take a VPDSD and RFPNW course as well, which I’ve found available through NEMO (Northeast Maritime Online) for $250 and $500 respectively. My first and main concern for this posting is to see if anyone has experience with their courses or perhaps another institute that would come at a higher recommendation. Any personal experiences pertaining to online coursework would be greatly appreciated.

Bonus question: Assuming I have my TWIC, physical/drug test, and complete those online courses, would it be wise of me to apply for my MMC prior to completing the basic training course and then submit that as the final piece? I’m seeing 2+ month waiting times are normal for MMC, so that puts me in December before I’d be ready to hit the union hall. The sooner the better as I’m just itching to get on a ship.

And to add to that, is this good timing for a newbie to get onboard as a Christmas relief? And should I not expect to land a full 3-4+ month contract for my first hitch? I understand there are many variables and that no one can read my future for me, just trying to set realistic expectations as well as ensuring I’m financially prepared for this all.

I can’t thank you all enough for all of the help I’ve received so far and I look forward to seeing your different perspectives!

As soon as you get your TWIC, Physical and Drug test done apply for your MMC.

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To clarify for the original poster, he should apply for his entry level MMC (OS/Wiper). I believe entry level does not require any classes.

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Gotcha, I thought BST was required. I’m trying to get STOS to start, which is why I ask about the other courses.

Thanks, I was confusing the union requirements as part of the MMC requirements. MMC checklist states STCW courses are needed (when applicable) so that’s where I was mixing things up. This is great news, I’m so ready to get out there.

Specially Trained Ordinary Seaman (STOS) is not an endorsement. It’s an entry level OS who has STCW RFPNW. You can’t get RFPNW without sea time, and you can’t get sea time without an MMC. Apply for entry level now.

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Thanks for clarification on that, I was told by a hiring agent to take those courses ahead of time but that’s relieving info.

It’s not required for your MMC but very likely will be required for you to work.

Do they put BT on every level MMCs now or do they just carry their course certificate?

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It’s an endorsement in the MMC, see 46 CFR 10.109(d)(13) Carrying certificates was pre-2010 amendments when there was a sliding scale for expiration of the BT.

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Ok, so shouldn’t he wait until he completes his BT class first?

Possibly. Depends on where OP is going to work, and whether they will pay for it. Sounds like OP is getting advice from someone whose business is selling courses. All those courses is a big $$ hit and it might be better not to get anything not immediately needed. There’s not a lot of entry level jobs, some don’t require BT, and others the company might pay for it. OP did mention the union hall. I’d ask the
union what is needed and what they might provide.


I have a checklist from SUP of what’s needed to join, so I will stick with that for now. The other courses were mentioned to me by a hiring agent from a private company (unassociated with any academy).

If you’re set on working for SUP that’s probably a good idea.

It is on certain vessels. You could get your entry level MMC ASAP and go to work on tugs or inland vessels until you can get into the BT and VPDSD classes. If you’re set on only sailing with SUP on deep sea ships then just wait until you have the classes SUP requires.

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Thanks, I’ve got it understood now. Good to know that I can take the courses while my MMC processes and then have them tack on the endorsements later.

Who may have a referral compensation arrangement with a course provider… Go with what SUP tells you if you’re going to be shipping wit them.

I can see how one would come to that conclusion, but that would only make sense if they recommended a specific course provider, which wasnt the case.