AMO is pretty simple. You send in an application with your license and class certificates. Then you are supposed to call the union dispatcher to register and they offer you a job when it becomes available. Being a new “applicant” don’t expect anything glamorous. You can also register now via a secure website once you are accepted as an applicant memeber.
Once you do your first tour (typically 3-4 months), you are now in the Medical plan. You then collect your vacation check and can get another job after your “return to work date” (the expiration of your vacation time which is typically 15 to 20 days vacation for every 30 days worked but depends on the contract.)
A word of warning, the job market is pretty bad now, even more so for Mates, so you might “be on the beach” for a while. You can increase your chances at employment by using the school’s placement service which is how I got into AMO. However in 2-3 years it might be better. As a rule, it’s always harder to ship as a mate than as an engineer.
Once you do your time and pay your initiation fee, you can apply for your “book” which allows you to claim a permenant job and vote, although in AMO it isn’t too hard for applicants to return to a job if the company likes you.
There are some differences between AMO and MM&P. The big one is how they ship. With AMO it’s a telephone call to Florida and checking the internet website. With MM&P (as far as I know) you still need to make personal appearances at the union halls in the big cities every day and wait for a job. One of the MM&P guys on here can fill you in on the details about that. MM&P also pays a lot more, but thats if you can actually get on a ship more than once a year.
Your Master’s degree is basically irrelevant at sea and neither hurt nor help you getting a union job at sea. That only comes in handy when you decide to go ashore.
Hope that helps a bit.