For many military service members transitioning from active duty, a career at sea can be a satisfying continuation of their service. The course from military ships to civilian craft, however, is not always an easy one to understand or follow.  MITAGS offers a structured process involving three different programs that can help veterans obtain a Merchant Mariner Credential.


The first step in the process will be to obtain your civilian credentials. The licensing and certification of civilian mariners is regulated by the National Maritime Center (NMC), a division of the United States Coast Guard. Most mariners must hold the following credentials to be eligible to work in the maritime industry: Transportation Worker’s Identification Card (TWIC), and Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC).

Following the application instructions on the linked webpages is the best way to understand the process for obtaining these credentials. As an extra step for veterans with sea service upon leaving the military, this time can be evaluated for consideration of a more advanced rating endorsement (i.e. Able Seaman) or license (i.e. Mate or Master). To have this time considered, you will need to obtain a record of your military sea service. More information about what should be included in this sea service documentation can be found here:

Once this documentation has been obtained, you can take advantage of the MilGears website to have this time evaluated for a civilian equivalency. When applying for your MMC, you should request the equivalent position you are eligible for based on the MilGears evaluation.

Training Programs for Advancement

Once you have received your MMC and a response from the National Maritime Center, if you are hoping to work internationally there will likely be training requirements to fulfill in order to meet the international (STCW) licensing regulations. Listed below are a few of the programs offered on both the MITAGS East and West campuses to help you fill in the training gaps and get out to sea as quickly and efficiently as possible:

  • Maritime Apprenticeship Programs (MAP): For those who will be entering the industry without any prior sea service or as an entry level rating (i.e. Able Seaman), the MAP provides a quick and efficient route to advancement within the industry, providing practial shipboard training along with high quality classroom learning to advance quickly to the officer
  • Able Seaman to Mate Program: This program will be ideal for veterans who are discharged with the sea service required of an officer-level license (i.e. Mate) but lack the required STCW training for an internationally endorsed license. This program does not involve shipboard training, but offers all course and practical assessments required of the
  • Mate to Master Program: This program will be for the veteran who is discharged with many years of officer-level experience and will provide the classroom training and assessments required to meet the international licensing (Note – AB to Mate program level training may also be required to fully achieve this level of licensing.)

If you need more help making the transition from the military to civilian mariner world, don’t hesitate to reach out to a MITAGS advisor for additional assistance.  We’re here to help you move on to the next phase of your service. Contact Us