Would you encourage your kid to attend a maritime academy?

Is this something you would encourage your kid to do or would you recommend they work a year on deck first to see if they could handle it?

Or would you recommend they never step foot on a commercial boat?

I have always done well in this industry but for some reason my wife thinks i am crazy for encouraging our kid to do the same. I did mention to her that we have never missed a payment and I always have a job if i want.

I think there could still be time for a good career in the engine room. Maybe on deck, not sure what it will be like in 30 years.

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We are in Maine, my family is in logging/forestry mostly. I go to sea.

So senior year I take my son to a couple schools, we go talk to the forestry guy, the person for undecideds, physics, math, engineering etc. Nope, not interested.

Well, shit, so now what? So we are sitting at the table one morning and I told him you either have to go to U of Maine and take forestry or go to Maine Maritime.

So my son turns to me and asks; "Is that the only two things you know, working in the woods or going to sea? I sitting there and that can’t be true, I must know many things, my mind is racing but the only thing I can think is Tinker, Tailor… Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief. What does a tinker even do? So, before I can answer my wife, who is in the kitchen answers: “Yes, that’s all he knows”.

Anyway, after he finished High School he got a job as stern man on a local lobster boat, then shrimp, a Portland swordfish boat. went out a couple times in a little shit and kept at it. So I thought that’s it. Going to Maine Maritime.

So he did, at sea right now as 3 A/E. so far he’s really liking it.


I’m not unbiased, but I think this is true. Our engineers seem to have no trouble finding placement, while our deckies sometimes do. What we do seem to have is a recruitment problem: not enough people want to become engineers, where-as the deck department seems to be able to fill up their classes. So its probably easier to get in to an engineering program and easier to find work. They always tell me that engineers have more career flexibility than deck officers do. There’s more things that are not engineering officer that we seem to be able to get work doing. For me, it has been really helpful to have done some work as a heavy duty mechanic tradesman before going to school. How to use tools and solve physical problems isn’t very well taught in my program and people who don’t have a taste for it aught not to waste their time, I feel. I think that people who have a head for engineering but don’t like to pull wrenches should be directed towards electrical engineering. I don’t know what the future of marine electrical engineering is: it seems like the ships I have worked on rarely have had an electrician (although we are so grateful when we do). On the other hand, cruise ships have a little army of electricians, so maybe its a bright future.


No, going into computer science with a focus on AI or if they are noy the college type learn how to fix robots.

I recently worked with a first assistant engineer who had an electrical engineering degree, used to build industrial robots, and quit it to go to sea. He liked the work life balance better and shipping was better money. The grass is many shades of green

ships are going to more and more complicated so the electrical engineering part will become more and more important even on basic vessels.
You cant take you deck skills anywhere except a ship but the engine room and electrical skills can take you anywhere.
Lets say ships get fully automated, the engineers will still be fixing them.


If I was to encourage my kids to go to a maritime school it would only be as an engineer. I’m not terribly confident that someone starting off now would be able to work in the business for the rest of their career on deck.


I’d encourage anyone to become an engineer. I hear that three quarters of the academy kids these days are engineers.

Even if my ultimate goal was to be a Captain, I’d go engineering first. I have known several academy trained engineers who became tugboat and fishing boat captains.

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Surely not anyone. Part of our recruitment problem is that kids don’t know how to math things anymore. I reckon its all down to about a generation of people beating up on Pythagoras. Somehow its become trendy to think that math doesn’t matter, and that humanity has been duped for some few thousand years into thinking that it does. I tried paying my rent by tutoring high school kids in math, earlier in the year. It wasn’t that they couldn’t do it, it was that they did not think it was important. I admit that I heard the same things from my cadre when I was a teenager… but somehow its become more stubbornly stupid than I remember. There’s such an emphasis on “geek culture” that makes science into entertainment. Coughing up sugar-coated factoids that fit into a pithy statement on a social media feed seems to have taken the place of reading books and working things out with a pencil. It becomes impossible, after a certain point, to teach people things that they’ve convinced themselves are there only to pointlessly torture them.

I encourage people to go into engineering, too: for the right reasons. If someone hates triangles, numbers, and mental effort, then I would suggest something else.


I agree that we have become an innumerate society. Some aptitude for math, adequate intellect and a willingness to put the time in and become proficient at math are essential for engineering. In fact, it ought to be essential for all college admissions. If someone cannot do the math, or worse, won’t do the math. They don’t belong in college. They sure as hell have no business borrowing my tax dollars for student loans.


And only in an ABET accredited engineering program.

Then they have no business navigating.


With regards to the OP , I would neither encourage or discourage unless interest was shown, then I would encourage. As far as deck or engine, I think either one is fine.

Growing up with maritime in the family is more an advantage then you’d think. The mindset and bits of culture are already there even on the first day of school. Crew members assume that some things don’t need to be explained.

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If my kids had the goods to be an engineer I definitely would encourage it. Encourage them to sail? If they had their heart set on it. However I would rather they worked shoreside as the regulations get tougher each day to enjoy this life


I neither encouraged nor discouraged my kids from the maritime world. Neither of them were really interested. My son did get his money for college by joining the Navy Reserve, and became a Houston cop. Is currently deployed with the Navy on a special forces support ship operated by Maersk and MSC somewhere off of the east coast of Africa, maybe. My daughter wanted to become a marine biologist until she learned how little money there is to be made. She is currently an IT consultant and becoming a world traveler, having vacationed in Greece last year and Thailand this year. My takeaway is that my traveling and maritime mindset has had in influence on both my kids, however not enough for them to pursue a career in it. As to the original post, one’s career is what one makes of it. There is certainly nothing wrong with the Academy experience, one just has to be able to take advantage of the training. Engine or deck? Depends on the individual. Nothing is guaranteed in this life.


In the last 30 years of my career at sea I have worked with many different nationalities, in one of my commands I had 14 different nationalities onboard. Not one of them wanted their children to go to sea.
Officers from the Philippines were paying large sums of money for their children’s education to get the children into higher education.
My own children were keen on small boat sailing and scuba diving. One ended up in Silicon Valley in AI and one as a post graduate marine biologist with qualifications in commercial launch operations and open water diving instructor. She is presently employed in an unrelated field because of the money.

My oldest son sails unlicensed having gone through SIU’s Apprentice program. He been sailing QMED for sometime now. My daughter was plenty smart but had no interest. When I asked her she said “Hell NO”. The maritime industry to her meant Dad not being home…a lot. She got her Master’s in a different type of engineering. My other son, like my daughter was not interested. He works for one of the big investment companies in their operations department.

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Hence my daughter’s decision to NOT be a marine biologist. She is, however an open water qualified scuba diver and skydives, too. . .sheesh. What the hell did I do to my kids?

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Sounds like you did a great job with them.

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Recent Deckie here, I agree, Engineering or another field