There are many opportunities for military and former military personnel in the U.S. merchant marine. Some programs help facilitate the transition between the military and the civilian maritime industry.


Photo courtesy of Shelby Schraufnagel

The Department of Veteran Affairs offers education benefits through GI Bill programs. Many maritime educational institutions accept GI Bill benefits, including the Great Lakes Maritime Academy and other State Maritime Academies. Depending on prior military experience it may be possible to advance quickly through curriculums. Contact the educational institution you wish to attend to learn more about how your military background could help you get your career started.

For information on benefit programs administered by the Department of Veteran Affairs, visit:

U.S. ARMY and Navy COOL (Credentialing Opportunities On-Line)

Obtaining credentialing while in the military helps to ease the transition between military and civilian employment. Army and Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) programs help bridge the gaps between skills acquired in the military to credentials needed in similar civilian jobs. It is possible to acquire U.S. Coast Guard credentials to work in the U.S. Merchant marine, while still on military duty.

Army and Navy COOL is a four-step credentialing process to help acquire proper credentials for the move toward the U.S. Merchant Marine. The COOL program can help fund application and fees for USGC credentials to enlisted personnel. For further information visit: Navy COOL and Army COOL.

For more detailed information on the Navy COOL program, see the comprehensive Blueprint to Mariner document.

Coast Guard Credentials

Photo courtesy of Shelby Schraufnagel

Experience in the military can be recognized as valid skills that lead to U.S. Coast Guard Certification. Visit USCG’s National Maritime Center website for more information on how your military experience can help you obtain credentials as well visiting Navy COOL for further information



For further information on joining the merchant marine from a military background, visit: The U.S Department of Transportation Maritime Administration.

Military to Maritime – American Maritime Partnership

This digital platform connects veterans with career opportunities in the U.S. shipbuilding and maritime industry, and provides training and credentialing information to help in their transition from military service to the maritime sector. U.S. maritime industry employers can upload their job openings to this website, and veterans and active military can search the hundreds of maritime-related careers currently posted.

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