Thanks TEngineer, that’s good info man… as for SailorDaniel, I think I can chime in on this one a bit. I can’t help you with the wage-mariner question-I just thought it was a fancy name for a mariner that works for the government and earns a specific wage regardless of whether he’s on the boat, on leave, or etc.
As for the Corp. unlicensed question… all government-maritime agencies that have an Academy like NOAA, USCG, and the Navy don’t issue their officers licenses because they’re governed by different laws and they don’t want their members separating after fulfilling their commitment and working as a Merchant Mariner earning double the wage. As for agencies like the Army Corp. or local state agencies, they require you to be licensed because they don’t have any formal training like the Academies-and have no way of gauging whether you’re qualified for the job or not without being licensed.
2nd, not all of NOAA’s officers are commissioned. I don’t know the ratio-how many are and how many aren’t, but I do know that there are advancement opportunities. According to HR, if a Mate position becomes available-for example, they post it in-house first, you then have ten days to apply for the job-if no one is qualified they open to the public. So there are promotional opportunities for us licensed AB’s or QMED’s.
As for becoming a commissioned officer and being able to compete for the shoreside jobs, I’m pretty sure you would have to go to their academy. I believe they have an age cut-off, and you have to have a degree of some sort-don’t quote me on that one. If you call the Commissioned Personnel Center, they could give you all the info. Here is a number I found, 800-224-NOAA (6622). Good luck, -Andy