Seattle Maritime Academy and job prospects afterwards

What’s up engineering crowd. I am currently enrolled for the coming engineering technology program at Seattle Maritime and am planning on going for the MEBA union once I graduate with my QMED. are there any people on here who have taken a similar route into the industry? I’d love to get some feedback on whether or not I should go union or private company. I’m currently leaning pretty heavy towards union but are there a good amount of jobs available at the MEBA halls for QMEDS? Thanks.

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Hey, feel free to PM me with any questions. I graduated from the Engineering program at SMA in 2011.

Hi Sam, unless there is a labor contract I am unaware of, MEBA is a Marine Officers Union. There are no QMED jobs available. Perhaps once you have earned your ticket, you could join the MEBA.

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Not quite true. Within several Ferry operators MEBA represents qmeds and oilers.

Washington State Ferrys:
M.E.B.A. represents Chief Engineers, Assistant
Engineers, Oilers and Port Engineers

DRBA (Cape May-Lewes Ferry)
M.E.B.A. represents Pilots, Mates, ABs, Ordinary Seamen,
Chiefs, 1st A/Es, 3rd A/Es, QMEDs, Oilers, Wipers, Mechanics
Electricians, Electronic Technicians and Welders

King County Ferry
Licensed Engineers and QMEDs

Yep, you are correct about representing unlicensed personnel in contract negotiations. But are QMED jobs called out of an MEBA Union Hall as Sam indicates he wants to persue? Do these listed unlicensed personnel participate in any of the MEBA Pension and Benefit Plans? Even when MEBA had the short lived merger with the NMU years ago, unlicensed jobs did not get called out of an MEBA hiring hall.

Read his question. There are zero jobs available out of the halls for QMEDs.

Solid retort for the win.

Chiefs are gonna chief. Just because they think they are always correct when at sea, they somehow think they are always correct on land–and love to constantly correct “incorrect” others–with said others usually being correct.

I was replying to @Enthalpy, not the OP. Suggest you read the post above mine to follow the conversation.

I will be honest I do not know how qmed jobs are called for the various Ferry companies. Washington State’s Ferry is a separate entity within the MEBA.

I have seen some of the Cape May guys at the school but never inquired how they got where they were.

Washington and Cape May both advertise for crew.

30 years ago, working on the Seattle ferries was cool. They opened the door to applicants about once a year. There was TV coverage of the long line of applicants on the street.

I guess the invasion of Californicators that have ruined Seattle have changed the mindset. Now it’s cool to work at Google or Amazon, but not on the ferries.

Washington ferries are a badly mismanaged state bureaucracy that does not treat new hires very well.

It use to be that everyone had to start on the lowest rung of the state ladder, unlimited masters had to start as OS. The first few months it was on call and you didn’t get many days. Maybe that has changed by now.

Recently had a tugboat engineer that came from the ferries. He said it was MEBA, but not really. There is some obstacle for the ferry guys to switch to deep sea , but I don’t remember what he said about that.

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They’re apparently hiring straight from outside now for a limited amount of positions

This skips over them being hired as deckhands and straight into get paid to do pilotage while getting paid.

From the oilers I’ve talked to MEBA focuses more on the Chief Engineer and Assistant during CBA negotiations.

New hires with licenses barely have to work as an AB/OS before starting into the pilotage program. Downside is most go straight into the wheel house without an understanding on loading the car deck.

The obstacle is that many/most WSF engineers are hawsepipers that do not have OICEW. Obtaining OICEW as a hawsepiper is expensive and time consuming. Worth it for some, not for others. The MEBA school does not offer a majority of the required classes, probably because almost all of the members already carry OICEW.

For the OP- Id look into MFOW

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There’s a Seattle Maritime Academy??

Yes, but it is not one of the federally recognized maritime academies granting a 4 year degree. Anyone can put academy in their name.

Turns out ABs and QMEDs. Very good school. Modern facility with own training boat, bridge simulator etc.


Engine simulator too. Think the WSF’s sends their crews there. I went there before they upgraded the school and thought it was a good school.


The WSF collective bargaining agreements are on their website. This transparency is to be applauded.

$7,100 a month to ride the ferries for pilotage is very fair. However, it would be a huge pay cut for just about any working Mariner.

Minimum license is Mate Inland Unlimited Tonnage. The unlimited tonnage requirement excludes most experienced mariners currently working in Puget Sound.

Although, I have met a number of tugboat ABs that also hold Master Inland unlimited. USCG Seattle use to be quite liberal on handing these out.

Academy grads preferred.

Although the state is not supposed to discriminate against age, obviously they prefer to train young guys who may work for WFS many years.

Mates with Pilotage pay appears to be about $9000 a month plus overtime for a usually 5 days a week job.

Seattle is an expensive city with a very high cost of living, and a lot of high income people throwing money around. The average house costs over $800,000, and anyone making less than $200,000 a year in Seattle is poor.

What’s the current story on employment with the privately owned Port Angles to Victoria ferry, the COHO? Are they also struggling to hire officers as well?

Here’s the general wsdot email. You may get the ferry information you’re looking for. I checked the job list and there isn’t much there, but the pay is OK.

I graduated from Seattle Maritime in 2003 as an AB and spent the next fifteen years, on and off, on contaniner ships, Cruise Ships, NOAA, and Military Sealift Command. Opportunities for deep sea work are getting fewer and fewer as the US fleet shrinks and crews get smaller, which causes serious safety issues. Go for the ferries. They’re hurting for engineers.

My friend rode that ferry at some time within the last year or two now and spoke to the employees there and they said they were not hiring and were focused on downsizing.

The COHO is an old ship from the 1950s, but she’s a good looking 5000 ton ship and appears to be in decent condition.

COHO is the only ferry they have and she only makes two trips a day. Unless the are replacing her with a smaller ferry, I’m not sure how they can downsize.