Summer job for college student with no experience

Are there summer jobs that a college student with no experience could take in the U.S.? Could you work on the ship for days to weeks or only a day long at most? I’m interested in the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, but how long would you be on the ship? I’ve also heard that it’s easier to find an offshore job in the Gulf with no experience, is this true? What is the smallest possible cost for licensing and training?

Here is the tale of a college student who went out on the great lakes for the summer with no experience:

Lacking other information keep your eye on the gCaptain jobs board and just start calling companies. You may or may not have a lot of doors slammed in your face but that’s life. Call anyway. Just start calling and don’t stop till you get a yes.


Would you recommend getting the TWIC and MMC? Do you have any location-specific advice for the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, or the Gulf?

It won’t be a one day job.

That is the worst movie I have ever seen. Even if it’s the most authentic version.


I loved every minute of it


Sorry, I presumed that you already had TWIC and MMC. You’re not likely to get on a boat for the summer without that. Well, most commercial vessels anyway… If you’re serious about this then yes, I would go about getting the TWIC and MMC as soon as possible.

No location specific advice, just keep calling companies till someone opens a door and lets you walk in.

The movie wouldn’t win any awards but did remind me of some characters I’ve met. Living with some of those characters was a character building experience.

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To get a MMC you first need your TWIC. The TWIC, best case, will take 2 weeks or so. For the MMC you need a medical form CG-719K/E filled out by your physician and then expect 30-60 days for the MMC to arrive if everything in all three forms (CG-719B, CG-719P and CG-719K/E) are correct.

I would get your TWIC alone for this summer and plan on the MMC for maybe next summer. With your TWIC you can apply for deckhand jobs on inland river towboats. If you apply to top companies like Ingram, ACBL, Marquette, Canal Barge, Campbell, Kirby, or Western Rivers to name a few and say you want to work two hitches back to back they will probably take the help as everyone is short staffed and turnover in the industry is high.

Due to the labor shortage you could get $170-200 per day.

Go get your TWIC interview this week if possible (need your birth cert or passport) and get to applying noting on your application you already have applied for a TWIC.

If you are super motivated most companies are having walk in interviews in Paducah these days and you may get an offer on the spot.

How would work on inland river towboats be like? What should I expect? Am I solely limited to inland river towboats with only a TWIC or could I go on inland river ships below a certain tonnage, harbor towboats, etc.

River deckhand work is manual labor with securing barges, painting ships, cleaning rooms/bathrooms etc. Some days are hard and exhausting, others relatively chill. Typically 6 hour work/sleep rotations. Can be rewarding and interesting though and you see the country from a unique vantage point. With a little initiative you could learn about the workings of a boat though and see if a full career destined for the wheelhouse appeals to you.

As far as TWIC goes though, with only a TWIC and no MMC you are basically limited to river towboats. Harbor tugs like in NY, PA,NJ, the Chesapeake or the Gulf of Mexico all require a MMC as do all the Great Lakes freighters or tugs. Not sure if Western US river tugs need a MMC.

Lake Michigan Carferry is hiring OS and coal passers with no experience. They may need you to commit to more than just the school break however.

What about a tall ship? They don’t pay well, but it can be a great experience. That’s how my son got started in the maritime world. Have a look at Tallship Crews Worldwide on Facebook. The schooner Woodwind in Annapolis is taking applications for summer jobs right now.

For river tugboats, what are the major home ports? How long is a typical contract, and is there shore leave? I’ve heard typical contracts are 30 days on then 30 days off.

What is it like working as a OS or coal passer on a lake carferry? How long do you work on shifts and for the total contract? What are the major home ports and is there shore leave?

There are a lot of ports for river boats…on the Mississippi Baton Rouge (LA), Houma (LA), Paducah (KY), St. Louis (MO), Cairo (IL), St. Paul (MN), and others depending on the company and the hitch.

Contract times vary but 28 on/28 off and 28 on/14 off are most common. 14/14 does exist though it is less common on the river than the East Coast tugboats. No shore leave; you work full time on the boat for the hitch and then go home.

Coal passer is not a job for the weak. Primary job is to ensure a steady supply of coal from the bunkers to the conveyors to the automatic stokers. Secondary is assisting the fireman with the furnaces and ash disposal. Usually 2 4 hour shifts 7 days a week from May to October, unless you are on sixes. If you pursue a maritime career, 40 years from now you can tell the youngsters, you were one of the last people to shovel coal on a steamship. During May and Sept. October the boat overnights is Ludington, MI. During the summer the boat makes 2 round trips a day, with a 1:30 AM local time departure out of Manitowoc, WI. OS performs the typical duties as well as help load and unload vehicles. All of the crew have single accommodations.

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For a summer job for a college student, you could get work on a local dinner boat, ferry, or charter fishing boat. Depending on where you live of course. Most coastal areas have that though. It’s all day work though. No MMC needed, must be eligible for a TWIC, may need it depending on company. Eventually to be a captain on those boats you need about a year of seatime.

Get a TWIC and MMC. I recommend SesSchool. TWIC took 7 weeks for me to get.

havent seen anyone mention it but coastal transpotation in seattle has a specific summer mariner program for people like yourself looking to find out what working on the ocean is like. youll get paid and get to see some beautiful parts of alaska running from seattle up to alaska back and forth