Maybe you are looking for marine deckhand jobs or perhaps planning on attaining a slot as one of the qualified members of the engine room so as to fulfill a more technical role as merchant mariner. Regardless of which role you would like to serve, it is important to consider which merchant marine jobs are the best in terms of pay, working conditions and benefits. Of course finding a job in maritime commercial fleets depends on both one’s credentials and experience in the job which is commonly known as ‘sea time’. Before delving into those matters, let’s first of all have a look at some of the employment opportunities that are available for aspiring U.S mariners.
Inland and offshore tugboats
Tugboat vessels are more prominent on inland waterway routes than those that operate along the coastal waters of the ocean. Jobs as deckhands, engineers and ship mates are available on these vessels. While river work might be a bit different compared to deep see work, the skills required for either of these jobs are relatively the same. However, if you intend to seek inland tugboat jobs in the U.S, keep in mind that some rivers freeze during the winter season which means that sailors don’t get to work at this time of the year.
Ferries are common in port cities including various cities in California and Washington state where plenty of passengers rely on these to access the mainland from islands, cross bays, etc. Much of the work that is involved with ferry jobs includes embarking and disembarking passengers from the vessel. This kind of work is quite suitable for novice deckhands and counts as sea time as well.
Military Sealift Command
These jobs involve shipping military supplies to sealift command stations. Roles such as hauling equipment and maintaining the shipping vessels are some of the duties to fulfill while working with the military as a merchant sailor for MSC. These jobs are also different from other merchant marine jobs in one respect; mariners are not allowed to quit their jobs by law just whenever they want to and they have to wait until a replacement for them can be found before leaving. So, if you plan on being a merchant mariner for a short while, working as a sailor on vessels that transport military supplies, you might be kept longer than you would expect.
Companies that operate deep sea and river fishing charters also offer mariners jobs to work on their vessels in different departments. Commonly known as a floating fish processing factory, these ships not only offer employment opportunities, but one gets some working experience out of it as well. Whether you want to work in the steward section, deck department or in the engine room, keep in mind that it is necessary to have the right credentials with you.
Job opportunities in the Gulf region
Supply vessels that bring supplies to and from oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico also offer employment opportunities to both novice and experienced mariners. These merchant marine jobs in the Gulf are known to have a hostile working environment that is filled with risks. When business is at peak levels, new vacancies for deckhand and other entry level jobs can arise. Therefore you might want to look into these jobs as it might be a good opportunity to get a real job as a merchant mariner, though as you will learn when you read my new book, Heave Ho – How to Become a Sailor in the US Merchant Marine Fleet, there are easier and safer ways to get your foot in the door in the marine industry.
Jobs on other merchant marine vessels
Cruise ships, yachts and barges are some of the additional vessels that offer engine room, deck and steward jobs. Qualifying as one of the yacht crew members requires additional training whereas cruise ship liners have slots ranging from the usual deckhand able bodied seaman positions to top crew slots of mates, captain and pilot. While many yachts and cruise ship liners are operated by foreign countries, it is better to seek a job on a U.S flagged vessel so as to be eligible for better pay and working conditions.
It is important to note that the above working environments vary distinctly with regard to working environments. Yachts and cruise ships for instance often have better living conditions compared to vessels that operate as inland tug boats. This having been said, the fact that each job requires one to have basic credentials and experience is an added advantage to those already holding the credentials, as this serves to limit the competition for those particular jobs.
To learn more about the certifications needed to be eligible for merchant marine jobs, simply purchase our new book, Heave Ho – How to Become a Sailor in the US Merchant Marine Fleet. This will also give you invaluable advice on how to stay safe while working as a mariner and most of all, the secret to finding a job on a U.S. flagged vessel that I myself used to enter the industry with a bang, see the world and make a ton of money in the process.
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