Looking to change careers

So I live in the US and work in the Criminal Justice field currently with about 4 years of correctional experience and a bachelor’s in CJ. I’m trying to branch out, look for something more rewarding, and change my career field. I live in the Houston/Galveston area and have heard about a lot of shipping or rig jobs but I honestly have no idea where to start. It’s hard to know what to look for when I don’t know where to start. I’ve been trying to get a grasp of all the terms and qualifications and really just the field in general. I would really appreciate if someone has any advice on how to get started. I know this is a broad question and probably hard to answer but if anyone can generally describe the different paths or options I may have, that would be great.

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3 thoughts on “Looking to change careers

  • June 23, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    What are you looking for out of the transition? Is it something that interests you, the money, the time off?

    Starting off with no qualifications, the easiest transition would be offshore rigs. A lot of drilling contractors need roustabouts and will pay for your training etc. Roustabouting is a lot of time on your feet chasing the crane and cleaning etc. If you stick with it though you can move up to crane operator eventually or move to the drill crew. You may even be able to move to the marine crew as OS then work up to AB etc. There’s a few different departments that you could eventually move to if you put in time and show interest. Rigs are generally even time with 3 week or 4 week rotations.
    (Although now during Covid, many are on 6 week rotations)

    Transitioning to Tugs, OSVs, or Ocean going Ships you will need your OS credentials / STCW before you can begin to work and it will take a while to move up. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong on OSVs and Tugs. Have not worked on either).

  • June 23, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    The first thing to determine is can you meet the minimum qualifications for any position in the maritime field and this starts with two documents:

    * Transportation Workers Identification Credential – this is commonly referred to as a TWIC card and, in spite of the grand plans the government originally had for this document, it’s basically a glorified ID card that says you’ve passed a background check. Learn about it [here](https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/twic).
    * Merchant Mariner Credential – this is sometimes called a “Z-Card” but it is a document that states what types of vessels you can work on and what roles you can fill on those vessels. Learn about it [here](https://www.dco.uscg.mil/nmc/merchant_mariner_credential/).

    Once you’ve figured out if you qualify for those documents, there are four basic types of maritime service:

    * Offshore – deep-sea vessels that move between two (domestic and/or foreign) ports delivering goods.
    * Oil Field – drillships and drill rigs that move to a location, stay on station and complete their assignment before moving to the next point. The oil field also has a system that requires a lot of support vessels that assist with things like ROVs, groceries, fuel, and drilling mud.
    * Inland – these are the inland tug and barge units that move along the nation’s ICW system typically moving goods between inland ports.
    * Harbor – these are vessels that tend to stay in one waterway. Assist tugs, fleet tugs, ferries, etc.

    There are other types of boats (fishing for example) that aren’t in the scope of this forum.


    Figure out which of the above you might be interested in and then maybe we can help you along.

    Another great resource can be found in the forums at [gcaptain.com](https://gcaptain.com)

    There is a lot of information there and also a fair bit of “you’re not worth the salt I put on my eggs this morning” from some of the posters but it really is a good source for answers.

    Good luck!

  • June 23, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    There are many ways to join the maritime industry! Merchant Mariners join in the maritime industry in one of three ways: a maritime college, an apprenticeship or by “hawsepiping”. Your pathway into the industry is typically guided by which department you want to work in and what kind of vessels you would like to work on. Most vessels have 3 departments onboard, the Deck department, the Engine department, and the Stewards department. The Deck department navigates or steers the vessel and is responsible for the cargo and safety equipment, including lifeboats, fire-fighting equipment and medical response gear. The Engine department operates, maintains, and repairs engines, boilers, generators, pumps, and other machinery. The Stewards department prepares and serves all the meals onboard, they also order the food and conduct general housekeeping. Like the military, the maritime industry has officer and unlicensed roles.

    Maritime colleges offer students an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree and a Third Mate (deck officer) or Third Assistant Engineer (engine officer) license. Maritime apprenticeship programs offer a variety of opportunities. Some are designed for unlicensed roles, others are designed for apprentices to earn licenses. Both maritime colleges and apprenticeship programs are designed for candidates with little or no prior maritime experience.

    You can join the maritime industry by obtaining your Merchant Mariner Credential and taking the required entry level courses. You would then find employment through a maritime labor union or working for a company directly. With sea-time, courses and exams you can ‘work your way up the ladder’ to become an officer; this is known as “hawsepiping”. To obtain an entry level Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC), you must be a US citizen or a permanent resident, pass a drug test, provided a medical screening/physical and Transportation Worker’s Identification Card (TWIC). TWIC can be obtained from the Department of Homeland Security. If you are interested in working on vessels that operate internationally, you will need to take a “Basic Training” course and apply for a Basic Training STCW endorsement. Merchant Mariner Credential and Basic Training endorsements are obtained from the National Maritime Center of the United States Coast Guard. More information, forms and applications can be found at [www.Dco.uscg.mil/nmc](http://www.dco.uscg.mil/nmc) or at local Regional Exam Centers.


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