What does it take to go from Brown Water to Blue Water deckhand

I am pondering a career change but, I am not sure how to approach it and was looking for help.
What does it take certificate wise to get on deck on a Blue Water Tug.
What are the Schedules like for a hitch.
And what kind of pay range would I be looking at.
These are a few of my starting questions.

It’s hard to get an OS position so ideally you’d want AB, BST, RFPNW, and Able Seafarer - Deck.

Hitches are usually 2-4 weeks, depending on the company.

At the very least you will need a OS and basic training (stcw).
Having an AB with at least the rating of special, rfpnw and ab seafarer deck is preferred. Having a passport is a requirement for a lot of companies too.
Most offshore tug companies do even time however there are a few that do a 2/1 instead. 28/28 is the most common. There are some shorter and larger and not as consistent rotations too.

Where do I go to obtain these certifications is it a Coast Guard test I have a few inland certs already.

Most of these are STCW certifications. For the STCW stuff you need more than a test. You’ll need courses and shipboard signoffs. The national rationg of Able Seaman (AB) is a test, but even for that, you need courses for Lifeboatman and Marlinespike Seamanship.

More ionfo on the STCW stuff:

Basic Training (“BT”): See NVIC 8-14
Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch (“RFPNW”): See NVIC 6-14
Able Seafarer-Deck: See NVIC 14-14
Proficiency in Survival Craft: See NVIC 4-14 This course will aslo cover the national/domestic Lifeboatman.

So where is a good place to start this process at a USGS testing center or are there specific schools I should look into. All these things are great help.

The STCW requires courses only offered by non-government organizations. Google “STCW courses” or there is a very cumbersome list of providers available on the NMC’s website. Be prepared for sticker shock.

Do you have a good reference or does anyone have any.

There are a bunch of schools that offer coast guard approved courses. A few in the gulf states, florida, california, oregon, washington, etc…when you call them make sure they are coast guard approved. google is your friend!

You have an Apprentice Mates license? And you want to go back down to deckhand in a system that will make it a lot harder to climb up the ladder (hawsepipe). Once you do a little research on STCW, you’ll find it will be very difficult and expensive to obtain all these certifications.
Conversely, on the inland route or Western rivers route, the next step up from apprentice is Mate Pilot. Every company I work with is paying a minimum of $550/day for a mate pilot. Why would you be walking away from this? The grass isn’t always greener and you’re sure to be overwhelmed by STCW requirements if you want to reach the wheelhouse level. My advice would be to reach the wheelhouse inland because you are so close, however difficult that might appear at this time.

Last 2 companies I checked with, they were paying $565/day for Mate Pilot and working 2 for 1 schedule. That comes out to $138,000 a year before Uncle Sam takes his cut. Alot of captains with tenure are at $600+/day now. I know both of these companies are hiring because they are short. It’s a good time to be working inland.

If you go work entry level blue water, you will be competing with people with higher licenses, like an academy grad with a 3rd mates. This will be a no-brainer hire for HR, pick the person who has the licenses to move up the quickest and put you at a disadvantage once again. Just my 2 cents.

You need to give more info about your current credentials. What specific license, tonnage, and endorsements do you have? You mention AP mate, and PIC. Is that it?

Others have mentioned STCW. Its not a deal breaker if you don’t have STCW. BUT would make it much easier to be an attractive candidate. The other one is AB. (any grade) will do. STCW is used for companies to ‘flash’ to customers about fleet records. But if a boat is under 200 tons running domestic it doesn’t need STCW manning. I know my company is so selective about STCW that we are all STCW qualified… Just because they want to be able to send any boat anywhere at any time without having to yank people from boat to boat. But many smaller companies aren’t so anal about this kind of manning.

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