The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

Training and education

What training do I need?

There’s no getting around it: sea-based jobs are dangerous.

Of course, land-based maritime jobs often are, too—for the worker and for the people whose lives depend on what they do. Both usually carry a lot of responsibility to do the job right—or risk financial loss, human injury or environmental catastrophe.

Because of this, many of the training requirements for sea-based positions are established by the U.S. Coast Guard.

That means there’s no getting around them.

And for many land-based positions, technical degrees are a necessity. So no matter what maritime career you go into, you will obtain some specialized education.

Fortunately, you have choices.

Depending on the type of career you’d like to have and where you want to be in the future, you may choose to:

  • earn a two-year vocational degree or apprenticeship,
  • earn a four-year degree, or
  • receive on-the-job training, then earn the necessary licenses and certifications as you go.

While the third option may seem simplest, more mariners are getting degrees than ever before because of the opportunities for advancement that they usually provide.

A few questions you may ask when deciding whether or not to attend school:

  1. Do I have the time? Maritime careers offer a good chance of quick advancement—if you put in the work.
  2. Can I afford it? If not, and you already work in the industry, ask your employer about tuition reimbursement programs.
  3. Do I already have a skill that I can apply to this industry with little or no additional education? Diesel mechanics, refrigeration mechanics, pump men and other technical positions are currently in high demand.
  4. Am I sure this industry is for me and does my family support this choice?
  5. What type of schooling best fits my goals?