Licensing Requirements for a Tankerman Aren't Easy to Meet

Becoming a tankerman can be a long and rather expensive process, but is also a rewarding career if you enjoy being challenged every day.  As a tankerman, you are working on vessels that are transporting petroleum or other chemicals, the licensing process requires that you have a valid Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card as well as a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) card.

TWIC cards are issued by the Security Administration and this application is likely the easiest part of the process.  This is the credential that shows it has been determined that you are not a threat to national security.  Enrollment for TWIC cards generally only takes about 15 minutes and includes completing of some standard forms, fingerprinting and getting your photo taken as well as payment of a nominal fee.

Once you receive your TWIC Card, you can then begin the process to obtain the MMC card.  This process is much more complex and can take several weeks to complete.  The first step is to get a physical examination form from the US Coast Guard.  You then will be required to fill that out and undergo a full physical exam by a doctor as well as complete a vision and hearing test.  You will then need to obtain a drug testing form from the Coast Guard and go to a certified testing facility.  The form also gives your consent to periodic testing even after your MMC card is earned.

In order to obtain your MMC card, you must also have proof of your Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certificate.  You can go about obtaining this by working for six months aboard a vessel and having your training signed off on by the Captain/Master of the vessel, or through an accredited course.

Once you have satisfied all of these requirements, you must fill out the application and mail the entire packet to the nearest National Maritime Regional Exam Center.

All of this will simply allow you to be on a vessel, and let everyone know you are not a threat to national security, however if you want to be a Tankerman, there are additional courses and/or requirements necessary to get this endorsement on your MMC card.

  • Provide evidence of service through a letter from an employer, on company letterhead, that states you have worked on a vessel for at least 90 days and that you have had at least 10 transfers of bulk liquid cargo to include five loadings and  five discharges, two commencements of loading, two commencements of discharge, two completions of loading and two completions of discharge
  • Certificate proving you have completed a firefighting course
  • Certificate of a cargo course
  • Education certificate from an approved tankerman instruction school.  It is important to ensure the school you choose is approved by the Coast Guard.

Once you have all of the above, you can then mail the application and supporting documentation (including proof of yet another physical exam) to the nearest National Maritime Regional Exam Center, along with the required fee for the endorsement.

Brian Beckcom
Highest Possible 10/10 AVVO ranking. Husband. Father. Fisherman.