Unlicensed Apprentice Program at Paul Hall School

I’m hoping to begin the unlicensed apprentice program at the Paul Hall school of Seamanship in Maryland next year in September but first I have some questions about the admissions process and the school in general.

First, when would be a good time to apply? I was thinking about early next year as the woman at the admissions office told me that applications are review every 1 to 2 weeks.

How long do the math and reading test take at the SIU halls?

How long does it take to get the TWIC and the MMC? Is it something I can do in a few hours or does it take more time than that?

If you could recommend one of the other maritime academies, which one would it be and why? I already have a bachelors degree and am going to be 30 this year. One reason I chose Paul Hall is that I don’t have to spend another 3-4 years of my life and thousands of dollars in a classroom. If I had known of this when I was 18, I would have gone this route but at my age I don’t want to if I can help it. I have no experience working on ships but have wanted to do something like this for a while?

Hi @cphdck98

Thank’s for joining the gCaptain forum and asking your questions in regards to furthering your career path. With the I can do mindset you will be able to accomplish your goals. If you don’t mind me asking what is your bachelor’s degree in? Do you have a family and children? Do you see having a family as one of your goals in the near future? as becoming a merchant mariner in many cases requires you to be away from home on a hitch for weeks at a time. Have you visited this page?


When you learned about TWIC and MMC besides the question of how long it takes do you have any other questions? It will take more than a few hours.

In regards to the jobs forecast question in the other thread you started, currently, it’s not the best outlook right now, to be honest.

I would also strongly recommend you keep a close watch on the gCaptain jobs section, as it is the leading Maritime and Offshore job site. The direct link can be found below. There are new opportunities added all the time with quality companies that have been previously qualified by the gCaptain management team.


Yes, I’ve looked at that link plenty. It was very useful for me.

My degree was in history. I know, not very relevant in a job like this.

II’m not married and I have no kids. I’m Not foreseeing getting married anytime soon. Trust me, I’m aware of the problems that can be created by being apart from family for such a long time.

Thanks for your help. I hope the industry will have more openings in the near future.

I’ll trade you my 1600 masters license for your history degree. I’ll go teach history at the local community college.


And you need to ask such incredibly basic questions on an internet forum?

One would think that at some point a 30 year-old with a bachelor’s degree would have learned how to research the job (and its prerequisites) for which they wish to apply.

If you know how to spell TWIC and MMC I suggest you go directly to the sources of those documents and read the huge amount of timely and accurate information about how to acquire them.

Is there some reason you don’t want to ask the SIU people the same questions?

This is a good site for anecdotal information and sea stories but if you want to play on boats you had better learn to be a bit more self sufficient … hand holding is not one of a mariner’s better attributes despite the syrupy tone of Mr. Rogers’ reply.

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And you need you be such a d*ck on an internet forum? If my question insults your high intelligence, why both responding in the first place? Or maybe just send me a link or another way of telling what to do?

One would think that someone with at least a 7th grade reading level would grasp that if I’m here asking a question then maybe I’m looking for something else besides an official source, like, you know, the advice of someone with actual experience (like yourself?). My age and education status have in no way prepared me for this work. As you seemingly missed, I HAVE NO EXPERIENCE WORKING ON SHIPS.

I’ve taken your advice and just sent my question about this to the SIU people. And yes, I’ve already done a bunch of research on this on the internet myself and sent emails and phone calls to SIU.

If you spent about 60 seconds on this site before sending off your b*tchy, estrogen-soaked reply to me, you’d see that there is a lot more on this forum than just anecdotal information and sea stories. Some other people asking questions not that much different than mine. Last I checked, there was no banner on the main page of the site saying ‘only the experienced allowed to comment here’.

I’m not looking to “play on boats”. Nor am I looking for anyone to hold my hand, since I neither expect nor want that. I’m not afraid to ask questions if I don’t know something and what better place than a place like this? I’d rather ask someone a question and then do something right then be a knucklehead and learn by blundering ahead,

Don’t worry, the big, bad college graduate isn’t going to be taking your job any time soon Mr. (Ms.?) Steamer. You can take your snark and insecurity elsewhere.


Do you have a preference of deck vs engine? If you’re interested in deck I’d recommend the graduate program at SUNY instead. Two or three years (I forget which) and you get a master’s degree and a 3rd mate unlimited license. That’s hard to beat if you can afford it.

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And apparently very little at doing fundamental research on the subject.

Based on your response, I predict your maritime career will last about a week.

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If you type SIU apprentice next to that magnifying glass up in the corner most of the info you seek will appear.

I did a google search and typed in TWIC FAQ and found a dozen or so good links to answer your questions there.

I did another search by typing obtain an mmc in the box and it sent me right to the USCG site.

None of this can be done in a few hours. The math and reading tests are basic GED level stuff. You won’t spend 3-4 years in a classroom burning thousands of dollars. Instead you’ll spend 3-4 years working for slave wages and wondering why the hell you signed up for this.

Finally you need to quit being so fuckin sensitive. I went through the program in 1991 and if you’re as delicate as you come off here you ain’t gonna make it.

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I’m ore interested in the deck. I’ve looked into SUNY on and off over the years and I seem to recall hearing about the graduate program there as it isn’t that far from where I live, relatively speaking. I don’t think I have quite enough money right now for it, but I’ll have a look at their site again.

I’m neither sensitive or delicate. I just don’t appreciate internet tough guys.


The thing about the master’s degree program is you can get financial aid for it if you qualify.

I don’t know anyone who has taken advantage of the deck route through SIU. I believe it’s brand-new. I do work with a couple of oilers and engineers that started in the unlicensed apprentice program for engine, and they are ace. The SIU/Paul Hall/Lundeberg training vessel is the same class as the Texas Maritime Academy’s and GLMA’s, I believe.

Another route you may want to look at is the MITAGS-PMI Workboat Academy. There are folks here who could tell you about that better than I can, but from what graduates have told me, it’s about break-even on cost (cadet stipend when shipping about pays for courses), it’s two years, and you leave with some relevant experience, a couple of decent licenses and in all probability a job with a towing company.

And kudos to you for coming here and trying to find out the information that is not on the various program websites or that the office hacks might not know.

SIU offers deck, engine, and steward department training and they always have.

Huh. I thought they just added the AB to Mate program.

We’re discussing the unlicensed apprentice program.

I understand that. I just made the leap to.an end state, figuring the OP did not intend to work as an AB for an entire career. Not that it’s a bad career or I am not grateful for so.e career ABs.

Sorry, that wasn’t clear in your post.

I am often less clear than I intend to be. My apologies. And again, I do not have direct experience of the school, just its products (all engine room folks, and all working or have worked to a license by continuing education there).

For the OP: if it were me, or my brother or son at age 30 with a college degree, I’d say go SUNY graduate license option or PMI (but see how they are doing with post-grad employment rates now).

Also this from Texas A&M Maritime Academy: For those students who already have a Bachelor’s degree, we also offer degrees in Maritime Business under the Masters of Administration and Logistics degree program, with the License Option.

There’s plenty of options if you’re looking to ship out. The one I chose was to climb up through the hawsepipe so that I’d have experience doing all the menial shit as well as the cool seafarer shit that, let’s be honest, drew us all to the Mystery in the first place. But how are you gonna helm a vessel if you can’t clean a head right? And you can’t gain the respect of the men on your crew if you haven’t done the same shit that you’re asking them to.

This site is CHOCK FULL of good advice–not to mention salty old f*ckers–and info on getting started in different sectors of the maritime industry, and it’s by reading every post in looong threads–like “Knocking on Doors in Louisiana”–and judicious use of the search function–hint, hint–that I got myself learnt up and decided to pack my seabag and head for the bayou. I got my STCW-BST certs at Delgado in NOLA, made a geographically-ordered list of companies to apply to–thanks, “Companies I applied to”–and proceeded to apply at every damn one in person. On my first day looking I got two job offers, and I jumped onboard a crew-boat the next week.

I’d considered the SIU program as well, but there seems to be.a lot of bullshit that you have to endure in the pseudo-militaristic training program, and you’re paid dick for the first nearly-a-year. Check out a blog called “Entirely Alive”, it’s a good account of one guy who went through the SIU program. I’d rather get paid, keep track of my seatime and tonnage, and keep movin’ on up. It’s a lot more of a headache than going through a training program, but if you’re willing to do the research and keep learning, it’s still entirely possible to design a career according to your preferences. I’ve worked on z-drive paddle-wheelers, tall sailing ships, and diving/salvage vessels. It’s a fucking cool industry to work in, and I wish you luck.