Career Glance: Starting off on water as a deckhand

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

January 8, 2014

When José Tamayo and Calvin Aubry step foot onto the deck of the Galveston Island Ferry, they can be in for a long day as deckhands. But as they both see it, what's better than a day out on the water?

The deckhand is the first position for a person vying for a chance to work in the maritime industry. It is a position that opens doors as mariners continue to obtain their U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) certifications. As keeper of the deck, deckhands are usually in charge of some maintenance duties, loading and unloading, and keeping the deck in order. They can start making anywhere from $130 to $170 a day, depending on inland or near coastal service. For deckhands who work on the Galveston Island Ferry, the job allows them the ability to return home each evening after working eight-hour shifts.        

"What I enjoy about this job is that I get to see a lot of people, work outside and on the water," said Aubry, who has obtained five certifications through training at the San Jacinto College maritime program. "I was willing to start work at the bottom and am taking the necessary steps to move up the career ladder.”

Aubry has completed USCG-approved certification courses in lifeboat operations, CPR, first aid, and firefighting at San Jacinto College. Tamayo, a fellow deckhand, said the endorsements and certifications are what move a person up in his or her job. "There is a lot of room for advancements. It didn't take me long to advancement from a level 3 deckhand to a level 1," said Tamayo, who has worked on the ferry since 1990. "And the pay increases as you receive more certifications. It's a great job." Both Tamayo and Aubry plan to move up to able-bodied seaman in the coming years. After advancing, they'll continue to train for positions as mate and then captain.


The San Jacinto College maritime program is located at the San Jacinto College Maritime and Technical Training Center in Pasadena, Texas, and offers USCG-approved courses for mariners to begin their careers and maintain their updated certifications. Since May 2010, the program has awarded approximately 2,000 USCG certifications and has recently acquired three interactive bridge simulators for professional mariner training thanks to a collaborative agreement with the Houston Pilots.

In addition to the mariner certification training, the College also offers an Associate of Applied Science in Maritime Technology – for students interested in working on a vessel in an operations capacity; a Ships and shipping course and articulation agreement with Texas A&M University at Galveston for the Bachelor of Science degree in Maritime Administration; and an Associate of Applied Science in International Business, Maritime and Logistics- for students interested in pursuing careers in the international business arena of logistics and supply chain management. Graduates also have the option of transferring to the Maritime Transportation Management and Security program at Texas Southern University, or to the University of Houston – College of Technology to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

Currently, the San Jacinto College is developing a new maritime facility on 13 acres along the Port of Houston that will increase the number of USCG approved courses available and that will house simulation training labs.

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