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Kindergarten to Twelve

One way the Maritime Administration can prepare a future maritime workforce is to promote awareness during K-12 education. MARAD works with high schools (typically grades 9-12) and middle schools (4-8) to foster interest in maritime operations, and in many cases, create real interest in a maritime career.

A Typical High School Program

Maritime high schools provide a "college prep" track for basic maritime skills that can rival some community colleges or vocational/technical schools. They are typically located at or near a harbor/anchorage region, with prime access to facilities, instructors, and real-world learning opportunities. Many programs:

  • are taught by a certified Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructor
  • cover 4 semester of classes, usualy Intermodal Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (ITDL) and some combination of courses on general Seagoing operations (deck, engineering, etc.)
  • require students to maintain academic excellence and significant participation, mirroring collegiate standards
  • award a set of credentials recognized by the maritime industry: (1) the Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) and (2) a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC). Together, these can fast-track a student to a position in the industry or improve likelihood of selection to a vocational or collegiate-level program, including a maritime academies

More developed programs can include local employer and/or Summer at-sea (shipboard) internships, STEM-maritime events at partner colleges, and industry networking. Some programs anticipate offering Independent Study, Dual-College Credit, and Work-Study. Over 100 high schools have some variation of maritime-related coursework.

What About JROTC?

Unlike the Five major military branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard), the Merchant Marine does not have a version of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) found in many high schools. However, maritime programs at the high school level might be considered the closest equivalent, with the USMMA and Six Maritime Academies being equivalent to reserve programs (ROTC) at the college level.

Middle School

MARAD also recognizes maritime education at the middle school level, teaching 4-8 graders basic maritime skills such as marine navigation and recognizing international marine signal flags.


For additional information on MARAD's K-12 education, contact the Office of Maritime Labor & Training.

Updated: Tuesday, August 6, 2019