The U.S. merchant maritime industry employs men and women who work on a variety of vessels in the deck, engine and steward departments. If you become a mariner, you will have job opportunities in different sectors of the maritime industry. Jobs are available on U.S. flag commercial vessels sailing on the deep seas, inland waterways and Great Lakes; including cargo vessels, tugs and cruise ships. There are also civilian mariner positions available on military vessels operated by private maritime companies, as well as on vessels owned and operated by the U.S. Navy and other government agencies.
Although the merchant marine is sometimes referred to as the nation’s “fourth arm of defense,” America’s mariners who choose to work on government vessels are part of a civilian crew supporting military missions. Mariners sailing in these positions are not members of the armed forces.
Shipboard life is very demanding. Mariners live and work together in a confined and isolated environment, and maybe away from home for months at time. There is often no immediate access to medical care. However, seafaring is a rewarding career, with good pay and benefits. If you continue your training, you will have the chance to continue to move up the career ladder into more skilled and higher-paying positions. You will also have an opportunity to travel all over the world, and to be part of the “brotherhood of the sea.” Once you complete the Unlicensed Apprentice Program, you will have the skills necessary to begin a career as a seafarer.