I’ve worked in the UNOLS fleet since 2013. Started as AB and worked to 2M. Each organization has there own pay schedule, overtime rules, etc. Some are better than others.
For example: If you work at Scripps or OSU and your ship returns to the home port, you dont get paid on weekends. You can stay onboard but no work or pay and you have to cook for yourself. These are the only two places that do that to my knowledge.
AB’s at Scripps steer, stand watch, paint and clean alot. The Oilers run the winches, which is deck dept duties on all other unols boats.
Alaska is cool and the pay is good. They dont take out for SS so you get paid a little more but if you want SS later in life you’ll want to make those contributions yourself.
U of H can be rough as an outside AB from what I hear if your not local. That’s the word on the street. They stick mostly around the islands.
WHOI and the UW are the best run operations for a mariner. Weekend pay, good ot, busy schedules etc.
All unols boats only have one permanent crew and everyone else is a temp. Some temps stay for years and never want to be perm. Others come once never to return. Overall perm spots are desirable and can take some time to lock down. There is usually some need for reliefs throughout the fleet. You need to make contact at each university or institution. The unols job board is a joke.
If you get on one of the global class ships (Atlantis. Thompson, Revelle) you have the chance to see the world and do some amazing things. The Sikuliaq will be mostly based in Alaska with spring and fall work off the Oregon Coast.
The Armstrong and Sally Ride dont travel as far s the global boats but usually but do stretch their legs and go to some cool locations just not as far away.
The UW and Scripps are in the IBU. The Marcus Langseth is MMP in the wheelhouse, not sure about unlicensed. The rest are non union as far as I’m aware.
Hope this helps. Good luck.