Washington needs to hire dozens of people to keep the ferries running in future

SEATTLE -- The Washington state ferry system is the largest in the country and the fourth largest in the world.  And now it needs to hire dozens of people to keep the ferries running in the future.

That's because it takes at least six years for a new hire to qualify to be a ferry pilot.

"It's a six-year path so we've got to start now looking for who we are going to have six years from now," said Capt. Mike Schilling, the relief master.

More than half of Washington State Ferries captains are older than 55 and could soon qualify for retirement; their jobs will need to be filled.

"I believe we have enough mates to step into a captain role when that time comes," said Lynne Griffith, WSDOT's assistant secretary for the Washington State Ferries Division.

To avoid a gap brought on by retirements and promotions, State Ferries managers say they need to hire 60 "ordinary seamen" -- entry-level positions.

"It's not really a crisis, but we need to make sure we are refilling those positions as they start to expire," said Greg Faust, director of Marine Operations.

Ordinary seamen candidates will have to go through extensive training and pass a fitness test. And with passion and dedication, they can possibly one day make their way to the bridge -- and be the captain of one of the most iconic vessels in the Puget Sound.

So if you're interested, entry-level positions make about $23 an hour. But if you put the time in and become captain, you can make about $100,000 a year.

To get more information on applying for a ferry job, click here.