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Ring Knockers or Hawespipers. Maritime Academy Graduates versus on the job training. Current costs of various schools and levels of training required will depend on how far you take your career. Newer and more demanding regulations will eliminate those with less determination, and financial resources. The Jones Act which protects American merchant seaman and shipping from foreign competition, is under attack and there is fear it will be terminated or reduced in scope in the future. This will allow more foreign sailors to take the jobs that are currently filled by US sailors. The US requirements of training and safety are of the highest standards of any country in the world and American sailors are recognized as being among the best of the best. If the Jones Act goes away, then it's quite possible these standards will be eroded.
See also 
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