(from left to right) High school students Amber Nguyen and Ngoc Minh Nguyen recently attended the San Jacinto College Maritime Venture Camp, where they learned about career opportunities within the maritime industry. They also toured such facilities as the Ocean Star Museum and the Coast Guard Station and participated in activities for knot tying, fire fighting, nautical terms, and water sampling. Photo credit: Jeannie Peng-Armao, San Jacinto College marketing department
Maritime training leads to career opportunities with great pay for high school graduates
Jeannie Peng-Armao -- August 16, 2012
PASADENA, Texas — With just a fraction of the maritime workforce younger than 25 years of age, the industry looks to garner more interest for jobs up for grabs as the nation's largest port for imports anticipates an overwhelming amount of traffic.
Industry training demands across the Houston region are rising in preparation for the 2014 expansion of the Panama Canal. With less than 1 percent of the workforce barely reaching their mid 20s, according to a WorkBoat magazine study, and more than half of workers nearing retirement age, the need to certify more mariners becomes increasingly apparent.
“We must get the next generation interested in the many careers maritime has to offer,” said Capt. Mitch Schacter, director of the College’s maritime training program through the Continuing and Professional Development division. “The maritime industry is one of those rare industries where students can go to a maritime trade school, like ours, and go to work at age 18, or they may study in our new associate degree program and start a little higher, or they can pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree program at a federal maritime academy and start as an officer. Any one of these routes will get a mariner where he or she wants to go in this industry.”
A variety of onshore and offshore positions exist within maritime, from deckhand to able bodied seaman, and making captain can be attainable after five years along with a $100,000 paycheck for those who work their way up in the ranks, according to Schacter. Opportunities like these go relatively unknown to high school students.
"The maritime trades offer great pay, generous time off and the opportunities to quickly advance," said Gordie Keenan, vice president of training and credentialing with Higman Marine Services. “The industry is in continual need for new mariners. In their daily routines, students are exposed to many types of careers like doctors, teachers, engineers, etc., and there are few opportunities to be exposed to the maritime professions. Students are unaware of the opportunities available."
Programs and camps designed to increase interest
San Jacinto College has developed a maritime dual credit career interest certificate, a 15-credit hour technical certificate designed to give high school students an introductory look at maritime and the careers available to them in the industry. The program is held during afterschool hours at the College's maritime training center on Highway 225 in Pasadena. The College also offers online courses to La Porte High School students in International Business and Logistics. These courses receive instructional support from their high school’s global business instructor.
Ngoc Minh Nguyen, a 12th-grader from DeBakey High School for Health Professions, recently attended the Maritime Venture Camp at the College to learn about the various careers that exist within the industry. While her mind is set on studying medicine, she's now considering serving as a physician aboard a hospital ship.
"I want to be a doctor but this is another avenue to work as a physician in maritime," said Nguyen. "Also, I used to think that the maritime industry was more for men but have learned that there are equal opportunities for both and men and women in this industry."
Joshua Howard, a 12th-grader from Carnegie Vanguard High School, has basically grown up around mariners because his parents own a boat. He's always had his mind set on a career in business, until now.
"It's nice to know about the options available in this industry," said Howard. "Before now, I was pretty set on studying business. But after learning about maritime administration, I'm now looking in that direction and considering going to college for this."
San Jacinto College offers programs and courses designed to usher new workers into the maritime industry. Options available for high school graduates include an Associate of Applied Science in Maritime Technology for those interested in working on a vessel in an operations capacity, an associate of applied science degree for cargo handling/logistics, and an Introduction to Ships and Shipping course for students to earn their associate degree in business administration and take advantage of an articulation agreement with Texas A&M University at Galveston to pursue a maritime administration degree.
For current mariner certification, companies send their maritime crews to the College’s maritime training center for U.S. Coast Guard-approved training. The center is guided and supported by an advisory committee of industry leaders.
In the coming years, a San Jacinto College maritime facility will be built on 13 acres at the Port of Houston to house multiple classrooms, engineering labs, RADAR, Automatic Radar Positioning Aid, Electronic Chart Display and Information System, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, and advanced navigation labs together with the industry's newest interactive, full mission ship, towboat, and tugboat simulators.
For more information about the San Jacinto College maritime program, visit cpd.sanjac.edu/maritime or www.sanjac.edu/areas-study.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.