Becoming an Officer in the Merchant Marine
In order to become an officer in the Merchant Marine, it is generally required to attend one of the US-based maritime universities. The most prestigious of these is the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, NY. Admission to the USMMA is highly competitive, as each class is made up of only 250 students. To find out more about the admissions process and life at the academy, visit the USMMA website.
In addition, there are six state-run maritime universities: California Maritime Academy, Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Maine Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, State University of New York Maritime College, and the Texas Maritime Academy.
Source: Maritime Administration
These schools provide extremely valuable training, which enables graduates to begin careers as officers in the Merchant Marine. This is a good option for people who want to develop high-paying careers at sea, as many of these positions require licensed applicants. The only way to achieve such a license is, in most cases, to attend a maritime university. These universities are four year undergraduate institutions. The USMMA is free, but the others are not; the Maine Maritime Academy, for instance, runs $8280/year in state and $17000 for out-of-state, non-New England residents (New Englanders pay a reduced rate).
If you want to become an officer in the Merchant Marine, you will need to attend a maritime academy. Or take specific courses. You will also need to pass an exam. In some cases, experience in the US Navy can count towards requirements in the Merchant Marine. See the following page: Military to Mariners