I’ve been browsing this forum quite a bit gathering the myriad perspectives that everyone has on the seven maritime academies. While I did find a wealth of information from other people addressing maritime academy questions, I’d love to get some more details about what life might be like during and after the Great Lakes Maritime Academy.
A bit about me - I’m 23, just graduated with my Bachelor of Arts, I majored in Environmental Politics. I’m not really interested in a degree option, I just want my license - which is the main reason I’m attracted to GLMA because I can finish in three years. I’m also attracted to it because it certifies you to sail on the Great Lakes and the open ocean.
The main reason I’m attracted to becoming a mariner is because I’ve traveled the world already, and I want to continue to do so. I feel like this is a great way to do that (please do correct me if I’m wrong, according to your own experience with travel). I feel like being a mariner is one of the last ways to get a decent dose of exploration and adventure in one’s life. I simply cannot stand working a desk job, and I’d much rather be popping to and from Greece, Singapore, etc. Also, being away from home is totally no problem for me. I find it kind of enlightening actually, to be removed from society/cell phones/internet, etc. I think I would enjoy constantly being on the road [sea].
I know that I primarily want to work with Research Vessels. I know most of the work that pays the best is for big oil drilling and extraction and shipping companies. I don’t want to do that for deep moral and ethical reasons unless I really have to. However, I think I’d really enjoy either doing shipping/transport of material goods, or research - with universities, NGOs, and groups like NOAA. Can you guys let me know a bit about the job opportunities here? I’ve looked at the salaries and even the wages for captains are somewhat low, about $40k/year. I would happily get by on that much money if I loved what I was doing. The way I kind of imagine it is going on expeditions in Antarctica, or the Great Barrier Reef, or all over the Pacific/Atlantic/Gulf for that matter - there is a ton of research going on all the time in these locales, and as somewhat of a nerd I’d love to be a part of it (albeit from a technical rather than scientific side).
Can people who have visited or attended GLMA tell me a bit about it? Why did you decide to go there (or why did you decide to not go there?) What are your peers like? Your professors? How is the industry experience? How do you think it compares with other academies? Is it just as easy to get jobs on the ocean as it is on the lakes? What opportunities are available to you now? How do you enjoy the mariner lifestyle? And, if it’s not too personal, what’s your general salary? What’s the town of Traverse City like? I hear it’s an older crowd and it’s somewhat more laid-back. My only other real option, tuition-wise, is SUNY Maritime, but I have heard accounts of that experience being absolutely hellish, and the dorms/the locale I don’t find particularly attractive. The website is extremely counterintuitive, navigation-wise, and it’s been a bit tough acquiring all the information about the program there.
I don’t think I need a B.A. in Marine Transport because I always figure that when I go shoreside, I’ll get my master’s somewhere where there’s a fantastic program, i.e. at the World Maritime University in Sweden. Do you guys think this is a realistic/good option?
Moreover, can you guys tell me whether or not, from how I’ve projected my career expectations, I’m being naive? Every Maritime college posts things like “career placement rate at near 100%” and most students finding a job that makes $60k+/year their first six months after graduating. Browsing these forums, it seems like it may be somewhat harder to get jobs than the maritime academies are making it out to be (obviously, I understand the academies are under pressure to enroll as many students as possible, so they make the maritime field sound particularly desirable).
If you guys would please help me out and tell me a bit about your experience, in as much detail as you’d care share, I’d really love to hear from some of you who have been in the field for awhile, especially GLMA graduates. Thanks in advance to anyone who reads this and takes the time to answer.