The U.S. Coast Guard regulates the U.S. Merchant Marines, and applications are obtained and processed through the U.S. Coast Guard Regional Examination Center. They can also provide resources toward obtaining the credentials required to join the Merchant Marines if the applicant does not already have the prerequisite qualifications.
Some maritime academies affiliated with the Seafarers International Union offer apprentice programs free of charge, and program graduates receive the necessary credentials suitable for obtaining an entry-level job in the Merchant Marines. Veterans of the Navy or Coast Guard who have previous shipboard ratings may be eligible for a shorter training program.