Other Qualifications, and Advancement: Entry,
training, and experience requirements for many water transportation
occupations are established and regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
As of April 15, 2009, mariners on board most ships have to obtain
two credentials, a Transportation Worker Identification Credential
(TWIC) and a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC).
Entry-level workers are classified as ordinary seamen or deckhands.
Workers take some basic training, lasting a few days, in areas such
as first aid and firefighting.
are two paths of education and training for a deck officer or an
engineer: applicants must either accumulate thousands of hours of
experience while working as a deckhand, or graduate from one of
seven merchant marine academies in the United States. In both cases,
applicants must pass a written examination. It is difficult to pass
the examination without substantial formal schooling or independent
study. The academies offer a 4-year academic program leading to
a bachelor-of-science degree, a MMC endorsement (issued only by
the Coast Guard) as a third mate (deck officer) or third assistant
engineer (engineering officer), and, if the person chooses, a commission
as ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Merchant Marine Reserve, or
Coast Guard Reserve. With experience and additional training, third
officers may qualify for higher rank. Generally officers on deep
water vessels are academy graduates and those in supply boats, inland
waterways, and rivers rose to their positions through years of experience.
pilot training usually consists of an extended apprenticeship with
a towing company or a harbor pilots' association. Entrants may be
able seamen or licensed officers.
years, to generate interest in the maritime industry, 18 high schools
have been designated “maritime high schools” with a
curriculum created by the U.S. Maritime Administration. Graduation
from one of these schools can help one’s entry in the academies
or with jobs elsewhere in the industry.
All mariners that are required to obtain Coast Guard credentials
are required to obtain a TWIC from the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security. This credential states that you are a U.S. citizen or
a permanent resident and have passed a security screening.
with few exceptions, the Coast Guard requires that mariners applying
for a credential after April 15, 2009, obtain a MMC. Entry level
seamen or deckhands on vessels operating in harbors or on rivers
or other waterways do not need a MMC. The MMC replaces the Merchant
Mariner Document, the license, and Standards of Training, Certification,
and Watchkeeping for Seafarers endorsement. The MMC incorporates
the licenses into the credential, which varies by occupational specialty,
type of vessel, and by body of water (river, inland waterway, Great
Lakes, and oceans). Requirements for the credential increase as
the skill level of the occupational specialty and the size of the
vessel increase and applicants must pass a test in order qualify.
Applicants for the credential must also pass a drug screen, take
a medical exam, and meet the minimum age requirements. For more
information on credentialing requirements see the Coast Guard's
Web site listed in the sources of additional information.
operators are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission.
Most positions require excellent health, good vision, and color
perception. Good general physical condition is needed because many
jobs require the ability to lift heavy objects, withstand heat and
cold, stand or stoop for long periods of time, dexterity to maneuver
through tight spaces, and good balance on uneven and wet surfaces
and in rough water.
Experience and passing exams are required to advance. Deckhands
who wish to advance must decide whether they want to work in the
wheelhouse or the engine room. They will then assist the engineers
or deck officers. With experience, assistant engineers and deck
officers can advance to become chief engineers or captains. On smaller
boats, such as tugs, a captain may choose to become self-employed
by buying a boat and working as an owner-operator.