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Aging workforce creates opportunity for Seattle Maritime Academy graduates

Programs prepare next generation of mariners to fill vital positions in regional maritime industry

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Maritime industry employers like the Washington State Ferries  face a shortage of deckhands due to an aging workforce, as recently reported on by the Seattle Times.  To help train the next generation of mariners, Seattle Central College’s Seattle Maritime Academy (SMA) began offering its U.S. Coast Guard-approved Marine Deck Technology Program again this fall.

This one-year program trains students for employment as Able-Bodied Seamen, who are responsible for loading vehicles, manning lifeboats, handling lines and knots and assisting mates/captains. The starting salary for graduates of this program is nearly $50,000 per year, with many opportunities for graduates to rise in rank and earn more.

The academy also offers a Marine Engineering Technology program that partners with Washington State Ferries to offer internships to its students. The ferries have agreed to accept ten Engineering interns from SMA this summer, where students often go on to work full-time after graduation. Marine Engineering graduates, who generally work on mechanical systems of vessels like steering and propulsion,  can earn up to $70,000 in their first jobs.

SMA has trained mariners at its Ballard campus for over 40 years. Programs provide a unique blend of focused classroom education, practical hands-on laboratory exercises, at-sea training and industry internships to prepare students for rewarding careers in the regional maritime industry.

The Marine Deck and Marine Engineering programs begin enrolling students in the spring, withclasses beginning next fall.  Visit to get started. 

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