Truck driver here with some maritime questions

Been working as a truck driver for around 5 months now. Its a decent job but i sort hate having to sit down for 8-10 hours a day. Working on boats has been something I always found interesting and after gaining experience as a truck driver i’ve realized im pretty fine with being away from home for work. Im currently not married and don’t plan on having any kids. im 27 years old.

I’ve been considering becoming a merchant marine for a few days now so i got a few questions.

  1. is it true most of you guys work like 4-6 month rotations and spend the rest of the year off duty/on vacation?

  2. I learned about the SIU apprenticeships recently. Do apprentices get paid in these programs?? I was just wondering how much money i should save up before even applying to one of these programs. When i went to trucking school i saved up a couple grand. luckily for me i was given free housing at my cdl school and some free meals. I realized some of these apprenticeships can last atleast a year. Also what kind of pay should i expect after completing an apprenticeship?

  3. are there quicker ways to break into the maritime industry without completing a long apprenticeship??

No. Most mariners in the US work much shorter rotations. We work a total of 6-8 months per year, just not all in one shot.

Take the every level classes yourself and get all your documents them go get hired by Edison Chouest as a deckhand. You’ll get 1.5 days of sea time for every day onboard and work 240 days per year (28 on, 14 of) so you gain sea time much faster. After you get your AB you might consider switching to do sea union if that’s what you really want.

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Are these classes I take online or do I go in person??? Will I have to travel to a different state to take these courses???


In person.

That depends on what state you live in.

Edison Chouest is a good choice I worked there for about 9 years. I was an over the road truck driver for about 6 years before I sailed 22 years ago. My first job was Tidewater marine my schedule was 28 on 14 off. They sent me through all the entry level training ad help me get my MMD. I am not sure if they still have the same program I went through but it’s worth looking into. Chouest is probably what advanced my career the most. I was able to work a several of there specialty boats. I worked several different schedules there 28/14, 14/7 and 14/14. I have done other companies since then bout none worth mentioning. I moved from boat to ships starting as an ordinary sea and and now a Chief engineer unlimited. I am currently on a ship represented by one of the big unions. I’m not a big fan of unions for various reasons and will more than likely move along.

I started working for a small shipping company that had tractor/trailers and tug/towboats. I Did both for them. I learned to drive by OJT and started working on boats on a 20/10 schedule as deck hand then tankerman/ deckineer until I had sea time to get license. Company sent me to national River academy in Arkansas to get my first license of OUTV near coastal. Worked my 20 on then drove tractor trailer on my ten off. Got to see the country inside and out. It was awesome as a single man. Then I got married and gave up the driving. It takes a while to to climb the hawespipe but a cheaper route to the wheelhouse and better training and experience than just going to an academy and getting a license with no experience. Never have gone union and won’t. Just my opinion man!

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Also I started at a much younger age than you as deckhand on ship assist tugs. So you are getting sort of a late start for hawespiping

Check out Joe’s channel on going through a union apprenticeship program

I didn’t sail till i was 45, in 6 yrs. I made it to Chief Oceans. It all depends on how much sea time you can handle. At 27 I’d be out there all the time !!!

How physically tough is the work?? Like will I be super tired after a day of work usually

I had one manual labour job and that was when I was 18 working as a baggage handler at the airport. Basically constantly lifted 50 pound bags all the time.

How many weeks are these classes?

Also once I complete the courses how long does it usually take to get hired by companies??

Also is deckhand work dangerous?

That all depends on the industry sector, the specific company, and the vessel itself. It’s not 12 hours of non-stop lifting.

At this point I don’t remember. A week or two I think.

That depends on the current state of the job market, what kind of vessels you want to get on, and how proactive you are.

Not excessively.

Usually it’s routine duty with no surprises and you wouldn’t see work like handling baggage. Loading stores during inport can be a change but what most would consider “work” is when something unexpected and unwanted happens.
Exceptions are probably found on small boats, tugs and some oil industry.
Big ships, govt. Jobs, msc and the like strive for routine & predictability!!