Maritime Jobs That Don’t Require College Degrees Can Pay Living Wages In Ports Of Seattle and Tacoma

Apr 3, 2017

Port officials are looking to place 150 interns for private businesses in Seattle this summer.  First they have to get kids interested.

Two 16-year-olds named Tim Viel and Dupree Picket came from an alternative program in South Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood called Opportunity Skyway.  They tried operating the robotics on a manned submersible that can conduct underwater research or fix pipes and turn things underwater. The kids operated the vehicle’s arm with a joystick.     

“I don’t want to break it,” said Picket, who was reassured by the company owner as he tried to pick up a ball.  

“It’s so accurate,” exclaimed Viel, who was the first from their school to try it.

For years, Ballard High School was the only one in the Seattle district that offered vocational training in maritime jobs, but that’s changing. So, teachers and principals brought buses in from around the town to see what kinds of opportunities are available.

Charles Parker was the chaperone for the at-risk kids from the Interagency Academy.

“Some of our kids are not interested in a four-year school, because, you know, when they come out of school they have this overhead of $100,000 of debt over their heads,” Picket said.

“A lot of our kids can’t afford that, so we’re thinking about just connecting them with skills and trade centers and what not, to just engage them … to where they’re coming out with eight months to maybe a year and making $60,000 to $80,000 – as opposed to coming out with all of this debt over their heads,” Picket said.

Others, including a group of juniors from Cleveland High checked out information sessions on commercial diving and science careers.

Nyalia Flight said she already knows what she wants to be.

“I actually wanna be a marine biologist and a zoologist — so, scuba diving, I could do; I could use that,” Flight said. 

Flight and a friend giggled as they tried on about 40-pounds of diving gear after listening to a presentation about the physics of diving.

Other demonstrations included knot tying and safety techniques using flares or life jackets.  And a 3D mapping model demonstration using sand and the projector from an Xbox. 

The Port of Seattle says funding is there for 82 positions internally, plus support this summer.