Union Schools or one of the Maritime Academies?

I’m Jack. I graduate from high school next year and I’m looking to get into the Merchant Marine. I want to make a lifelong career of it if I can. Is it better to work your way up and go to one of the union training centers or try to get into one of the Maritime Academies and go in as a mate with a marine transportation degree? I’d like to actually be at sea, not too interested in shoreside jobs.


I am not going to say which is better, but if I had a choice I would get my education before shipping out. Go to school.

Welcome Jack!

If you can afford to go to School for 4 years- then school is the best in the long run. You’re in a much better position if you have your 3rd mates license- and a degree.

But- if you can’t afford to wait- the SIU Paul Hall center in Piney Point Maryland has a program for those starting from scratch. See seafarers.org.

You work and learn at the school- and aboard ships.

They put you through BST.

The downside here is that you have to pay a little money upfront- and make little for the first year- but you graduate with experience, union seniority, and an AB or QMED.

Another good- and free- option is jobcorps. I wish I had known about this when I started. They have a facility in Beautiful Astoria Oregon that trains you to get your AB or QMED. They pay for flights and everything.

See [B]tonguepoint[/B].[B]jobcorps[/B].gov

Also- PMI (mates.org) has a work/study program (workboat academy) where you get paid while you study. The cost is over $20k- but you make good money while working- and come out with a 3rd mate license in 2 years.

It’s a tough time to try to break into the industry- lots of experienced people are out of work.

If you have your heart set on going straight to work-I recommend you get your mmd, TWIC card, and BST (basic safety training) then go knocking on doors.

Take any job you can get, work hard, volunteer for extra assignments, and always have a can do attitude.

Good luck:)


I’m an academy guy, so I should probably say go to school, and I will. I think the value of the education you get, along with the license, will suit you better on down the line. I’m sure at some point you’ll come ashore, and having a degree along with (maybe) a higher level license, depending on how long you sail, will make you invaluable.

Thanks for the responses, but what if I am not able to afford an Academy? (Which is a very big possibility) Is thehawsepipe even an option anymore with the amount of seatime, money, and classes needed? Why is it so difficult for an ordinary seaman to ever rise to an officer? Can it still be done in the modern Merchant Marine?

Jack, it definately is possible to go up through the hawsepipe. Here’s a few things to look at.
MSC-Military sealift command.(the government) The biggest employer out there and they pay for everything (training, travel etc.) which you will not get everywhere. You can go in entry level and move up that way. A former Steward utility is now Captain.
Also, they just started a new program that no one knows about. You work for them for 2 years and then sign a contract to work for them for another five after they pay for you to go to one of the 4 year maritime school. They pay for tutition, books, travel to and from all the while paying you the salary you were making during your two years at MSC.

Also, look into USMMA. You will hear a lot of people hate on it here on gcaptain but it is a good education essentially free. More militaristic than the others and you will have a commitment when you graduate but it isn’t bad and actually can be a really good thing.

“You work for them for 2 years and then sign a contract to work for them for another five after they pay for you to go to one of the 4 year maritime school. They pay for tutition, books, travel to and from all the while paying you the salary you were making during your two years at MSC.”

Wow! Any details on this?:smiley:


Try for college first Jack,
There are hundred of scholarships out there for the maritime industry alone. Its not hard to get them.
Good luck!

Found it!


I took my Lifeboatman at Clatsope Community College in Astoria, OR. We did our davit and rowing at the Toung Point Job Corps facility. The Job corps kids were there doing mariner stuff. The campus was excellent with about 200 other studnets learning other trades. They seemed like a well motivated group. LIfe in Astoria is grey, wet, cold… then winter settles in. From what I saw and heard its an excelelnt program and CHEEP!

Id say go with the union for 5 months and get out an AB with a B book and go sail. Ya might not like it and that would be a real crapper to invest 4 years at a maritime university and not like boat life.

(Typing happily at the end of my hitch in Fourchon)

There is always money to go to school out there. 4 years of maritime school will run you (roughly) $80,000. My roommate loaned just about all of it - I thinik he has $76k in school loans, but his first hitch paid him over $50k. Not that he did the smart thing and paid down the loans, instead he bought an Audi TT. But, the money is out there to make to pay back the loans.

Typical sailor :wink:

I’d take thes school option if at all possible. Going up through the hawsepipe is becoming more and more difficult with the amount of training that you will need. Besides, you need a lot of years at sea to even be eligible to sit for 3rd mate, so that’s a long time to be doing grunt work.


[quote=Ordinaryseaman;11542]Found it!


This program is only available to current civmars, not new hires.

Go to school!! Get a Degree!!
I attended Mass. Maritime until I thought it cost to much, and was to proud to let a child tell me I didn’t shave close enough( I was a self paying 22 year old freshman). After 2 years ( I had previous sea time) of cleaning the shitters on Mud boats and studying for my mates license after working a 12 hour day rigging pipe on deck…I received my license. As bad as I thought the Academy kids were I would have finished if I had known how hard it would be to climb up the ranks.
I am VERY proud to be a Hawsepiper, however I can only be a boat Captain. With a degree you can be a boat Captain too, and when you get tired of looking at your kids and wife crying on crew change day you can go work at the office.
Best of luck whatever you deside!