Questions on meeting the 3 A/E requirement to sit for exam

Assuming i have engineering degree from ABET approve University or from Maritime Academy and wish to sit for USCG 3 A/E exam… Also, let say my rating is a wiper or OS ( entry level) with no sea time and working toward getting a license.

1.) From my research, the current requirement to sit for 3 A/E is 90 sea time in the past 3 year + MMC+TWIC+ all required credential (STCW/ Advance Firefighting). Is my understanding correct?

2.) This 90 day sea time that i need,…. does it have to be from engineering department only or can be from any other department? (assuming vessel horse power is +4000 sailing coastal or international voyage)

2.) Once I get the MMC + TWIC+ STCW+ Adv. Firefighting and maybe lifeboat. Is there any other class that you would recommend for entry level rating job as an engine wiper? I need to start at the bottom,….get my sea time and then request for 3A/E Exam once I am ready.

3.) I want to know if TWIC card and USCG MMC + other endourcement can be sent oversea ? Or are they restricted to US address only?

4.) for getting ready for 3A/E exam. Can someone recommend training program online (via computer program) or a prep class somewhere that can help get ready? I will be reading book of course, but I also would like to do mock exam and ask questions. Suggestion?

5.) what is the difference between 3 A/E Limited and Unlimited horse power license? How to get ? or is it up to the type of vessel I sail (sea time) ?

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You’re going to have to apply for a TWIC in person at an enrollment center.

There is no such license.

There is no such license.

He is likely referring to a 3rd A/E with limited horsepower which is possible to get, albeit relatively useless.

Would that just be Assistant Engineer - Limited?

No, you get a regular 3rd A/E with whatever horsepower you’re approved for. I had 3rd A/E, 2000 HP on my license at one time. I did not sail on it as the unlimited tonnage vessels with 2000 HP are scarce on the ground, but had such a vessel existed I would have been set.


I still suspect he was referring to Assistant Engineer - Limited.

Assistant engineer-limited is a 1600 grt license with whatever horsepower gets attached to it. 3rd assistant is unlimited tonnage with whatever applicable HP. If I recall correctly both require a grand total of 1080 days but I do not recall what the precise ‘breakdown’ is.

I get the confusion with the OP though. Got a headache reading the query.

To the OP, in regards to what HP you would get approved for, it’s in the checklists. If at least 50% of your time is on vessels 4000 and above, you should get unlimited HP. If not, there is a calucation to give you a limited HP or sorts.

This checklist is handy for some of your questions including if/how a horsepower limitation will be applied:

Also you need to determine if you want to work only domestically or internationally. If internationally, you’ll need the complete this checklist for OICEW:

This one is not so simple or cheap to complete due to lots of required training.

If (as mentioned in some posts above) you were inquiring about Assistant Engineer-Limited, here is that checklist:

All of these checklists as well as everything else you need to know is available on the NMC website:

Also, if you want to read what’s in the applicable CFR sections, that’s available here:

For test prep, I used but that was a while ago so not sure if they’re still up to date or a good choice now days.

Good luck.

If you had an eng degree from a maritime academy the rest of the questions would be moot since you’d have fulfilled all of the requirements, been trained for, and sat for the exam.

In another thread you mentioned you work in a Thai shipyard. Two thoughts…1. Are you a US citizen (if not then none of this matters) and 2. You’ll have to come to the US to take the exams.

For the rest of the questions, though the requirements can be confusing, all of the checklists that @Hawespiper pointed to on the NMC website are the best resource.

I don’t know if Mass Maritime Academy still sells the three Engineering old questions and diagram books, and I’m sure (hope) some of the outdated questions have changed, but those books got me through all my exams.

thx. that the answer i am looking for. i saw this same information but have no way of confirming.

thx you. the link is very helpful. I will go thru the CFR.

as for the first link you posted, i have that information, but the other, i have not seen it. will go thru the check list and see what apply to me.

yes, i am an American and i work in Thai shipyard for 4.8 year now. been out of the country for 11 year now.

Taking the exam in the US is not a problem for me. Getting the MMC + all related training + 90 day sea time is the difficult part. I have to fly back to USA to get it. Guam and Hawaii is a no go…Need to fly to San Diego or Florida to get the training i need. USCG will not accept non USCG certified instructor.

I had TWIC card, but that was over 10 year ago. Back then, they were still issuing Z-card, …MMC came later. That why i was asking if they (USCG and US Gov) can send TWIC card and MMC to my oversea address . If not, I will need to find a US address.

yep, those link are useful. i only found some of them. but what was share is new to me. Thx for sharing.

the Mass Maritime exam book you mention can still be found at 3rd party seller with solution book. i already found those. Impossible to find use book or free pdf version. There are other book published by other school, but i dont have any feed back on how good they are.

South Dakota has a deal aimed at RV’ers but perfect for expat seafarers (or shipyard workers). Open a mailbox at a mailbox company, spend one night at a hotel in SD, get drivers licence the next day, good for 5 years. These mailbox companies will forward your mail as requested. This article talks about the process:

Our Adventure Becoming South Dakota Residents!

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i was going to do something similar. I still have an Nevada driver license and its still good for a few more year. PO Box with mail forwarding service as you mention surely help a guy in my situation. I know many mariner don’t live in the US, but have to maintain US resident due to their personal reason. Many live in a state that does not require to pay state income tax or
have + claim resident in those state. In my case, I am fully invested here in Thailand.

South Dakota is a beautiful country, i have not travel thru there. Hopefully soon :o)

Me either. Was there for about 36 hours. Will return in 5 years to renew my drivers license.

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when you grad from a academy you usually have in hand a 3AE, had you done so you’d no doubt be fully informed of this issue.
I don’t know what a ABET IS but if it’s anything reputable they’d have explained the licensing bs to you.
twic, passport, shots, and all the rest is secondary to having “the document” !!!

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. They are not a maritime training organization, they accredit college engineering degree programs, and have no direct contact with students at the colleges they accredit. They would not have explained anything about maritime credentialing. Potential mariners likely make up up substantially less than 1% of the students at the colleges offering the programs they accredit. For engineering degrees, they are very reputable.

ABET has -0% to do with anything license.

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