Deck vs. Engine

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by KingsPtMom2014, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. KingsPtMom2014

    KingsPtMom2014 Member

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    I know this is the subject of a lot of friendly, spirited debate, but I have a serious request. DS has been deck since day 1, but he is starting to waver. He is under the impression that engine majors are significantly more employable both in the maritime industry and outside of it. Is there any truth to this?

    Some other questions.

    1. What are the key differences between the experiences of a deck major and an engine major while at KP?

    2. What are the key differences between their experiences at sea?

    3. Does KP100 provide an accurate picture of both tracks?

    Any other info pertinent to the topic would be appreciated. Thanks for your help.

    On another subject, my husband, KingsPtDad is unable to post threads. When he tries, he gets a message saying that he has been disabled. Are there any mods out there who know anything about this?
     
  2. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    So first some basic, honest disclosure - I am a 1982 Deck Graduate; my DS is 2012 and a "Shopper". My short answers to your questions are:

    "1. What are the key differences between the experiences of a deck major and an engine major while at KP? "

    Assuming we are talking about the comparison between "straight deck" (a major in Marine Transportation) and "straight engine" (a Marine Engineering) major vice a comparison of either of the other two "Deck" and either of the other two "Engine" majors: From he beginning of Third Class year on, the "Engine" major takes a lot more math and engineering courses, this is a course load that many, if not most would say is more academically strenuous. However, the "Deck" courses aren't "cake-walks" and usually involve more writing and research papers, etc. They are basically business courses. In both cases - "straight deck" or "straight engine" the primary focus is initial preparation for entry level positions in the maritime/transportation industry. Also the number of days required at sea to sit for the "Deck" license is more than the "Engine" license so that can drive certain aspects of sea year in that the Engine major MAY have a little more time between ships and that can enable they and the ATR to be a little more selective in their ship assignments, though the requirement for Steam time has been an issue in the past.

    "2. What are the key differences between their experiences at sea?"

    I assume you are talking about cadet shipping but there are also differences when sailing on your license. As cadets, engine majors experience seem to me to be even more a function of the quality of the other Officers on the ship in that department than it is for we "deckies" - I say this because it seems to me there is a broader range of differences between ships and ship systems/operations. From a deck perspective, I feel for example the differences between a 6 year old 6,000 TEU container-ship and a 2 year old 10,000+ TEU box ships are far smaller than the differences could be from an engineer's perspective as the ship's systems designs could be entirely different.... When sailing on your license following graduation the differences can and usually are far greater in today's Merchant Marine where the engineers may not stand regular watches after hours while the deck officers obviously have regular bridge watches 24/7 while underway. Pay-wise they basically have similar ranges though generally the top pay for Masters is a couple of % (literally 1-3%) greater than the top pay for Chief Engineers - of course the Master has a little more paperwork and license risk than does the CE and that is, at least theoretically, the justification for that difference.

    "3. Does KP100 provide an accurate picture of both tracks?"

    Well this is obviously a question, whose answer is subjective to a fair degree but mine is - to the extent any single course can provide you a basic understanding and preview of a 4 year curricula, yes it does a good job of exposing you to the basic, core differences.

    "Any other info pertinent to the topic would be appreciated. Thanks for your help."

    Relative to inital opportunities immediately following graduation, in times of tougher economies, I'd agree that engineers likely have more choices. That said, the differences both in terms of choices and in maximum economic potential pretty rapidly converge within 5 years out (again only my HO). Also, if you look at the recent graduating classes both 2009 and 201 graduated into what I'd call tough economies and from what I can tell they are doing OK. Certainly not as well, nor having as easy a time of finding jobs, they like, as the Classes of 2006 - 2008 but in comparison to their peers from most "regular colleges" they are doing very well as a group. (I say as a group because I'm certain there are several out there reading this who have personal experiences that differ and I think their opinions and experiences are pertinent and valuable to this conversation.)

    Looking at my Class, now that we are 28+ years from graduation, I can point to numerous examples that would say regardless of whether you are a "Deck" or "Engine" graduate, your prospects and max earnings potential are high. For example at the top end of my Class economically I can point to 4 guys who I know have net worths of 9 figures (and possible more), all of whom made their money following graduation - 1 was Engine, 2 were Deck and 1 was "Dual". When we have reunions I can tell you that in all cases at all levels of accomplishment there is a solid mix, and I think our graduating class was like 60/40 (Engine/Deck).

    So my advice is major in what interests you, when you graduate pursue a career you'll enjoy, that way you'll likely be better at it than one you're only approaching as "a way to pay the bills". In the end you drive and interest in your chosen career; along with the other foundational elements you'll leave USMMA with, will likely position you to achieve more and reap greater rewards than "the average bear". Then in 2019 or 2044 when your DS looks at where he is in his life and where he wants to go, he'll likely be both happy and successful regardless of whether he went "deck" or "engine". Oh and don't forget to tell him when he's one of those wildly successful guys, the best way to show off to his USMMA Classmates is to donate to the USMMA Alumni Foundation - often:smile:
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2010
  3. KPMum2012

    KPMum2012 Parent

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    I think jasperdog has really hit the mark with this comment! Engine courses are hard. (I'm not saying Deck courses aren't. They're hard in a different way.) If your DS isn't actually interested engineering and being an engineer, it may be hard to stay motivated to spend hours on those long, involved homework assignments.

    Which subject is someone more likely to put extra effort into - one that interests them and leads to a career path that interests them or one that does not interest them but they think they should take to be more employable? Which begs the question, who is more employable - a deck major who was interested and motivated and did well in the course work or an engine major who was not so interested and therefore wasn't so motivated and barely passed the courses? Worst case scenario - choose a major you don't like, struggle with the engineering courses and fail one or more. Being set back would be extremely frustrating. Let's not think about possible disenrollment.

    Finally, what does he really want to be doing in 10 years? Does he really want to be working in an engine room for his career? Or will he be unhappy that he is not working the deck side? Worried about delays getting a job on graduation - take some of those great loans you're offered second-class year and set a chunk of money aside as a safety net for while you are looking for a job. But don't compromise long-term job satisfaction because it might be a little easier to find a job quickly.
     
  4. ParkerMom

    ParkerMom Member

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    "So my advice is major in what interests you, when you graduate pursue a career you'll enjoy, that way you'll likely be better at it than one you're only approaching as "a way to pay the bills". In the end you drive and interest in your chosen career; along with the other foundational elements you'll leave USMMA with, will likely position you to achieve more and reap greater rewards than "the average bear". "

    I couldn't agree MORE with this statement. It truly is the key to satisfaction with one's career and the chances of happiness with one's working life.

    (I'm on my third career - first engineer, then energy management consultant and then lawyer. I should have picked lawyer first, but it never crossed my mind. I was talented in math and science, and there are no lawyers in my family or among my circle of friends. Oh well, it worked out in the end!)
     
  5. deepsea

    deepsea Member

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    The advice I give the plebes-who are deckies but waver toward engine are to go with the Ships Officer major. Deckie with the benefits of hands on operational engineering knowledge. Those skill will make you much more valuable as a cadet, and if you go to see as a licensed mate. And as I tell them, you will live in a house someday, and it will have a heating system, plumbing system, and electrical system- why not learn now how all that works. As for employment, I have never known a unintentionally unemployed or underemployed Kings Pointer, deck or engine.
     
  6. wolfe834

    wolfe834 Member

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    My experience comes from the graduating Class of 2009.

    Deck Officers were still looking for jobs the 1st quarter of 2010. It took my son five months to find a job and that was "shaking the trees" everyday. As for Engineers, I think all had jobs during this same period.

    I heard of one Engine guy that really didn't want to go to work. He was sitting at home letting the "parental units" take care of him. To appease his parents, he went for a job interview and was hired on the spot. He is happy with it, but wasn't really looking at the time. Also, he basically got to write his own contract.

    At this current downturn in the economy, Engine personnel seem to be wanted more over Deckies.

    Just a past parents point of view...:thumb:
     
  7. Sea Faring Moose Mom

    Sea Faring Moose Mom Member

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    Deck or Engine

    On a more HUMOROUS NOTE------- A joke from my DD

    "It's whether you want to ever see the light of day" Deck

    "I NEVER have to use Sun Block" Engine :yllol:
     
  8. donar

    donar Member

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    Jobs

    Every Power Plant, Trash Plant, Co-Gen facility in the country (there are thousands)iwould employ Engine Grads in a heartbeat ... outside of the Maritime Industry I don't know how many opportunities there would be for deckies.
     
  9. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    I believe that's because you are constraining your thinking to immediately after graduation and looking at those jobs/carrers that immediately come to mind. However based on broad data from the Transportation Research Board (an arm of the NSF) - one in seven careers in America today has a significant portion of it's subject matter driven by and pertinent to the field and industry broadly defined as "Transportation".

    Further for all the same reasons that any graduate of a Service Academy is highly sought after following their completion of their initial obligation - the leadership training and their commitment and drive for excellence so too are Kings Pointers. The general feeling of those who seek to employ Service Academy graduates are that the Kings Pointers primary relative strengths over their brethren from other service academies is their experience with and understanding of the basic constraints in commercial environs. Of course keep in mind that is only an edge for certain career paths and job opportunties.

    I believe as is being pointed out of course is that immediately upon graduation engineers are more directly recruited - that's basically true of ALL engineering graduates from ALL good college programs today and is reflective of an overall shortage nation-wide. That said I stand by what I said about how the opportunities and earnings potential converge the further you get from graduation day... I'll also point out that the further you get from graduation day the less a function the delta between your earning potential on graduation day vs. time now is the Undergraduate Major than your expereinces and accomplishments following graduation day... that isn't specific to being a USMMA graduate either....
     
  10. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Pretty much any logistics type company.
     

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