Maritime transportation (or, shipping) is one of the major ways that products travel across the globe. In fact, about 90% of the goods we see and use each day in the United States spent part of their life on a ship. Pretty amazing when you consider the sheer quantity of stuff, from crude oil to video game consoles, that is traded every day.
Here’s another interesting fact about the shipping industry. Over the next few years, thousands of workers will be retiring. This means tons of jobs will be available for today’s generation.
If you’ve never looked at the shipping industry as a career option, you might want to hear what our latest interviewee, Captain Augusta “Gussie” Roth, has to say about maritime careers. Roth says shipping is an exciting option for today’s generation, with tons of benefits like travel, competitive wages, and plenty of opportunity for advancement.
After spending the early part of her career working internationally aboard ships, Roth is now the head of Texas A&M University at Galveston's Department of Marine Transportation. She helps students like you plan their education to succeed in the shipping industry. Texas A&M at Galveston is one of just over a handful of colleges across the nation that offer a maritime degree program. The program helps students get the courses, certifications, and internships they will need to get a job almost anywhere in the world right after graduation. We asked Captain Roth to share with us her thoughts on why today’s students might want to consider careers in shipping.
“It’s definitely something that takes you places you’d never dream of,” Roth said. She went on to explain that the opportunity to travel was one of the main selling points when she first considered shipping.
“I have always been a person who thought about traveling as part of my life,” she said. “I came from a less prominent lifestyle in an underprivileged type of area, and when I found out there were opportunities to do work that would take me to new places and experience things I’d never been able to see, I looked into seeing what more I could do.”
But, said Roth, you don’t have to travel to work in maritime. Some people choose shore side occupations that deal with the business side of things. Others may work in a shipyard. Still others start out working on a ship, then decide to go shore side when they are ready to settle down or to start a family.
“You are very diverse in all the different types of things that can happen in the maritime industry,” Roth said. “Some of the things that people can actually do are the business side of it. If you’re tired of working off-shore, or want to switch to shore for more family life, you can come into the office easily.”
She also mentioned that competitive wages and flexibility are some of the common industry perks. For example, many shipping employees work for a few weeks or months at a time, then get a similar chunk of time off. Imagine working for six months, then having three months off to go out and explore the world.
“You’re well, well compensated for being gone,” Roth said. “And seeing the world … it’s just great.”
Roth also said that getting to experience different cultures, meet new people, and do different things on a regular basis keeps maritime careers feeling new and exciting each day.
”You’re not going to be sitting down, mundane, doing the same thing every day,” she said. “It’s an adventure. It’s very diverse, and it’s a very highly cultured sort of experience. It’s also a push toward you becoming a stronger person. You’ll be able to handle things, to look at things differently. Since it’s global, you’ll learn everything the world has to offer.”
We asked Captain Roth for her advice to students who might be considering a future in maritime. Are there specific classes to take in high school? What about getting into a maritime college?
“The best thing that prepared me for the work ahead was that I did the college prep types of programs [in high school],” she said. “I tried to get as much math in, as much of the sciences in. English—you have to be very good and very concise in how you communicate since [the industry] is international. The more college prep courses you can take, the better off you are.”
Interested students should also start exploring the nation’s collegiate maritime programs. By doing so, they’ll get to know the various college entrance requirements, different maritime-based degree options, and potential scholarship opportunities. Check out Texas A&M at Galvenston's Department of Marine Transportation website for more information; or do a keyword search for maritime degree programs to find other colleges that offer options in maritime studies.
“You’ll never know what you like until you go out and see what is there,” Roth said.
For more information on this exciting industry, check out the rest of our Maritime Transportation issue. And be sure to keep following Fast Forward for the latest on exciting transportation careers!