Licensing for merchant mariners is different from that for other water transportation workers. Deck officers in the merchant marines must be licensed. Licensure requires a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC) and a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). Applicants must meet the following requirements:
- graduate from the US Merchant Marine Academy or state academy;
- pass a written exam;
- pass a physical exam, vision exam, and drug-screening test;
- be a US citizen or hold a green card;
- hold certificates in first aid and Certified Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR); and
- spend a certain number of hours working on watercraft.
The required number of hours on watercraft depends on the type of license applied for. Ship captains must spend more hours than mates. Those who want to work on ocean vessels must put in more hours than those for lake or river vessels. In addition, more hours are required for work on large boats than on small boats. Mariners who work on ships over 200 tons must also take fire fighting and radar courses.
Those who have at least three years of sea experience can be licensed if they pass the written exam. It is difficult to pass the exam without training or independent study. In addition, because mates often work only six months a year, it may take them five to eight years to accumulate enough experience to advance.
For more information about licensing, contact: