Mention that you’re moving to the city of Houston, and you may encounter any number of knowing responses.
Some might congratulate you for moving to a great dining-out city. In a state known for some of America’s most sublime regional food, Houston offers one of the most diverse arrays in all of Texas, from Creole to Vietnamese to (of course) Tex-Mex.
Others will immediately think of the space exploration pioneered from the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center; don’t be surprised if they laughingly cite the famous line “Houston, we have a problem.”
But mention that you’re moving there to work in the maritime industry, and you may raise some eyebrows. Despite being home to a port that is consistently ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne tonnage, U.S. imports and U.S. export tonnage, you’d be hard pressed to find someone outside the state of Texas who identifies Houston as a waterfront city.
That is, until recently.
Over the past five years, the maritime industry has been exploding in Houston. Business Insider just named the city one of the top in the United States, thanks to the booming job market, and jobs in the maritime industry comprise a large percentage of that market. As a result, a new workforce is arriving in the city of Houston from all over the country. Many of these workers are new to the maritime industry.
If you are one of those people, here is a helpful list of things to know at the beginning of your journey as a maritime employee in Houston:
The Port of Houston Authority
Along with offering guidance around the legendary Port of Houston, the Port of Houston Authority can help guide the beginning of your journey in the maritime industry. If you’re looking for a job with the Port Authority itself, applications can be filled out online. If you seek employment on one of the Gulf’s public or private docks, the Port Authority can point you toward the proper union to direct your inquiry. And every question, big or small, about shipping cargo into and out of the Gulf of Mexico can be answered by someone at the Port Authority. If you’re in the maritime industry, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending a lot of time at the port…so why not get to know it a little better?
The West Gulf Maritime Association
This group functions as a liaison and advocate for workers in Houston’s maritime industry. They help with negotiations between unions, administer safety and compliance training, offer payroll support services, and provide a forum for discussions and exchange of information between member companies.
San Jacinto College
Back in 2010, this local community college saw the swell of new maritime jobs in Houston and decided to step up to the challenge. The result was an expanded International Business and Logistics degree with a program geared specifically to up-and-coming maritime workers. The program meets with United States Coast Guard and international standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) maritime training and deck-level coursework. Taught by a staff that includes USCG approved ship masters, officers from the US Navy and the Merchant Marine, and skilled technicians with decades of experience under their belts, the program enables new maritime workers to dramatically improve their job prospects and build a long-term career in the maritime industry.
The Maritime Museum
Located just south of Midtown, this museum aims to honor the history and influence of maritime and marine industries on the city of Houston. Their focus is on the development of Houston, the Texas Gulf Coast, and the State of Texas. In addition to fascinating exhibits on everything from early twentieth century warships to a gallery showcase devoted to the Merchant Marine, the museum offers a research library with not only books and periodicals, but also ships plans and artifacts on display. If you want to understand your work and its importance in history and the global economy, this is the right place.
It’s well known to locals that when the Port of Houston grows, the city grows with it. Now that the port’s reputation is spreading and the city’s number of maritime workers are beginning to climb, it’s important to get ahead by knowing where to find the information you need.