Unsure of how to proceed!

Hello everyone, I am in bit of a conundrum. I am considering a career in Merchant Mariner but I am unsure of how to proceed. I already graduated and have a BA in history (I wanted to be a teacher but quit, the California education system is just not that worth it). I’ve been searching for careers and I ended up here.

I initially thought about going through the SIU program and proceed to get a 3rd Mate Unlimited license. My plan was to save up some money, pay off my student loans (15.8k) then go to a maritime academy.

Then I’ve been told this is not exactly a good path to go through. I was informed that going through a martime academy would be better and that paying off the loans would not take long. However, seeing how much they are per semester is not pretty. I am considering either SUNY or Cal Maritime and unsure of which school to go to, I’m leaning more into Cal Maritime since I live in California.

Which path would be the most ideal? To work, save money, then go to a school or go to school straight away? I have a 2.9gpa (UCSD where I got my bachelor’s) and 3.5gpa (Community college). Thank you for your time and comments.

If you actually want a career sailing go to Cal or SUNY. Grad program is short, get your license, and really sail to pay off the loans.

But you really gotta want to sail.

If you go to a grad program and then decide to not sail your loans will suck.
Just my opinion.


Going to a grad program is worth the roi if you decide to sail. Depending on what sector of the industry you would like to work in, hawespiping is also an option but can be a lot more challenging. Have you ever worked on boats before? How old are you? Do you have a family, kids, spouse etc? All things to consider when embarking on a non traditional career path. I’d suggest before plopping down a bunch of $$ for school is to go get some sort of part time job on the water first to determine if it what you really want. At the very minimum, try to talk to actual working mariners to get their perspective. Depending on where you are you could probably go ahead and get your MMC and work for a year and then decide if it is what you want to do. Sailing can certainly be a financially and intellectually rewarding career, but it is also hard. Sitting on a boat at this time of the year absolutely sucks and makes you second guess your life choices pretty regularly. Just something to consider…


If you join SIU i’d seriously consider just hawespiping. Its doable if you are serious, you’ll also end up better financially amd you’ll know if you want to sail without any financial commitment

Hawespiping as an engineer right now is basically is not easy. It’s set up now to be as difficult or harder than just going to school.

The time commitment/cost just isn’t worth it anymore.

Also look into something called the wok boat academy. Like 2 years, have a buddy that got business degree decided that wasn’t for him and went there and got his 500 ton mate and quickly upgraded to his 3rd.

I applied as graduate in Shipping And Logistics, I have strings attached other than my student loans. I just might try SIU or get MMC to try it as you said. I’m fully committed either way since if I do go SUNY I need to pay everything off. Thank you for your insight.

I’m thinking of doing SIU then working a while to save some money to go to a SUNY program, is this doable? Thank you for your time.

SUNY grad license program is pretty easy to get through, and as a day student you won’t deal with even a quarter of the bullshit the regular regimental students have to. Most of my classmates who took out loans sailed steadily and paid them off with ease.

Plus, even if you hate sailing it never hurts to have a masters degree.

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Save the time in SIU and go straight to suny the faster you get the license the better

It’s definitely better if you’re young and single and can afford to go.

I couldn’t find any reference to Cal Maritime offering a graduate degree with license option so I would do SUNY.

I initially thought about going through the SIU program and proceed to get a 3rd Mate Unlimited license.

Had a chuckle, as if it were so simple.