Washington State Ferries


Requiring school grads to work as an OS might not explicit policy but the result of how promotions are done.

If there was a requirement to have a degree to get hired as an officer then there would be all school grads. If there is no requirement for a degree than a crew member with a license and several years in the system would have seniority over someone with a license and no time in the system.


from what I have been told is that once the 6months probation period is over and a newb with a U/L license has obtained the required Federal pilotage, they would be able to move into the wheelhouse over those with longer time in the system. I do not know the fastest anyone has ever moved from deck to bridge, but if a person can be on the bridge for transits then their pilotage book can be signed off fairly rapidly and as soon as a person can go to the USCG to sit for the pilotage exam then I would think the whole thing could be done in 6mo however you would need to get the calls to work and be allowed to observe on the bridge between going down to the deck when at the dock. If they won’t let you observe on the bridge for the crossings then they (WSF) would need to be told to go and eff themselves.

I mention this because I am considering doing this myself and have spoken with a port captain about how all this works. I have been told that with an unlimited AB MMC, one can bypass the OS period entirely and go AB right off the bat. Maybe Tacktician can elaborate for us?

regarding living on the Olympic Peninsula, I certainly could but it is not my preference to. Not that much over on that side other than moss and big green slugs


I interviewed back in ‘13 for an AB hiring, was offered a job, then had it pulled as it didn’t jive with union requirements; it was a special hire that year I applied this year and interview in Seattle tomorrow, so I’m curious to see what’s changed.

I recall being told that even on call you’d get set days you weren’t expected to work- think of it as a weekend. The other days you should report to your home port when called- you select a primary route and that is your expected on call route. This doesn’t preclude you from working other routes but they can’t make you go to the Vashon route if Clinton is your home port.

Also recall something about once you hit some many hours 1080(?) you get set on a permanent guaranteed hours schedule… then after that the next step is full time at some other number of hours… I don’t recall exactly though.

I’ve got a 2nd Unlimited, AB Unlimited, etc… was working on a govt ship prior to what I’m doing now(cop) and want to get back into sailing but want to be able to see the kiddos, dogs, and wife most days. This’ll get me sailing again at least and with the wife being retired military, health insurance costs us less than $300 a year, got two or three solid years wages saved up, plus her pension, feel I’m in a good spot.

Tried to get on last year but a torn labrum in the should needed surgery in March of ‘17 so that precluded getting on.


Let us know how the interview goes! My interview is by phone on Wednesday.


Will do. Hopefully if well we’ll both be asking in March about the two weeks training period…


Interview went very very well; got good feedback at the end as much as they could I think-
Still sounds like north end ferries is 2-3 year track to full time track.
That said for a flexible homebody such as myself with two sets of grandparents to help with kiddos and a retired spouse I think it’ll work great…


Thanks for getting back to me on that!!

Did you ask how much work could be expected on call?


Full time most likely in summer, not full time fall/ spring, prolly laid off-ish Jan-March time frame, though some work would be available if willing to drive a bit for it…


I had my phone interview with State Ferries today.

I was told what you said, but I think it otherwise went well. Hopefully they offer me a job!

Now it’s a matter of finding a place to rent along the sound!


I was hired last year, and am currently on the voluntary lay-off until they call me back to the “on-call” pool sometime in March. Here’s my .02 on WSF gigs:

Home daily, State benefits, easy work (once you get used to spending time cleaning toilets), 95% of the people crewing boats are good eggs.

AB Special doesn’t mean shit to WSF (unless, of course, they’re in a pinch, THEN you can sail AB), so plan on sailing OS until you can get Limited/Unlimited endorsement. NOT really a maritime gig–more like working on a floating bus. Passengers can be a nightmare/PITA–if you don’t like people, this probably isn’t a good fit. Probationary pay is meh, and 1080 hours is about = to 2 summer seasons. Seniority based system fosters a culture of mediocrity, and keeps new hires out of all but the shittiest permanent routes for 2-4 years.

About 50% of all new hires are gone before probation ends…last year about 35% were done before end of Summer season. Sadly, WSF sees this as okay, and is cool with spending 10k per hire to train new people every year, rather than make the environment easier for people to make it year-round with lower seniority.

I’m still on the fence about the whole thing, but will hopefully have my AB Unlimited at the end of the year and can start parking cars instead of cleaning up after the filthy masses.

Good Luck!


An update; phys ability test(what ever that entails) in a few weeks and anticipating early April for the new hire orientation…


Took care of the physical and PAT yesterday…
Easy day.
I guess it’s just respirator fit test now?


I took my drug test last week, I am taking my PAT next week.

Though I am a little bummed, I was told I was to start in early April as well but now they want me to start in the middle of June!

At least they said I could start working on my pilotage in the meantime though.


That’s kinda cool I guess; how does that work though, as a non-employee? Just go for observer time in the wheel house?


I have no idea, but they said I could get on it and I have no reason not to. I’m supposed to get something in the mail beforehand.


Anybody in the know on the 13 day orientation? It sounds like basically BST and marine firefighting plus ferry indoc; any idea where they do it? Are new hires put up in a hotel? Does it go thru the weekends? Thanks in advance. HR doesn’t seem to have a lot of info on that end…


I see that an AB Special doesn’t mean much when it comes to starting out as an AB, but would it increase the odds of getting hired? I have about 100 days of deck time and would love to apply later this year/early next year when I have more experience.

I’m really interested in King County Water Taxi as well. They were accepting applications up until today, but I’d like to apply during their next hiring phase when my application is more competitive.


Starting in April; just got the email.


RE: Orientation…

The schedule is somewhat random…there were some weekend days, and some week days off…

No lodging provided as far as I know. I had family in Seattle and was able to stay there during the 2 weeks.

Pro Tip: Do NOT be late to any class, field work, training…90% of my class arrived 30 min+ every day just to be safe.

Ask questions…there is a TON of info you have to sort through. HR talks a big game about helping, but the reality is your instructors are the best source for understanding the Paperwork/Admin side of things…

Good luck!


Thank you; out of curiosity, where was the fire fighting done? I’m gonna book hotels a few blocks of the training and just plan on the daily earnings from training to pay for living expenses and such… I’ve got a sister on Vashon I can stay with but that most likely wouldn’t be convenient for travel purposes.
I figure the nights before Eagle Harbor based training I can just get a hotel over there the night before or even stay up Poulsbo way where you get more for your money hotel-wise.