That's interesting - Over the years, I've made out countless testimonials for ratings and junior engineers that were Company documents on Company letterhead. True enough, IIRC, most, maybe all of the Canadian engineers presented me with the TC form and asked me to fill it out but worldwide, I remember it being the exception rather than the rule.
I've also been told recently that in order to renew my certificate, TC requires me to have testimonials for the required sea service during the past five years - I haven't obtained testimonials since I wrote my 1M 26 years ago - Seaman's Book entries had always been good enough for certificate renewal. The rules have changed, I guess - or perhaps are just being more rigidly enforced.
I'm not sure what you mean by "real world experience", I've worked with many engineers who have worked all over the world - and some of them are clueless. And I've worked with engineers who haven't been hardly anywhere and they're excellent.
+1 on that, camshaft.
There's an opinion shared by some that ferry service is not comparable to deep-sea or other commercial sea-time (during the years I spent at BCF and other ferry companies, I was good-naturedly referred to as a 'boulevard sailor' or 'lunchbox sailor' by some of my colleagues) and to a certain extent, there may be some validity to that. A main engine breakdown on the 'New West' meant arriving at the terminal on three engines and calling Deas Dock; the same breakdown in the Bay of Biscay in December while towing a disabled freighter was a horse of a different colour. Pressure to maintain the schedule can be considerable but compared with that exerted by management when your seismic vessel is losing a quarter-million dollars a day and struggling to keep millions of dollars worth of towed array from sinking to the depths and being crushed is again, a different kettle of fish.
That being said, the differences in the Engineering profession are not as great as those on deck. During the aforementioned Bay of Biscay trip, we broke the towline several times in one day and watching the A.B.s splicing a Flemish eye into the broken tow wire while up to their waists in seawater flooding over the deck made me wonder how many ferry deckhands, who are more used to parking cars and doing the occasional drill, would have managed. It was also true that there were vessel Masters whose certification was restricted to specific routes while the Chief Engineers could sail as C/E anywhere in the world.
None of which invalidates ferries as a career choice. Truth be told, if I had it to do over again, I might have stayed with ro-ro coastal work. The whole point of being employed is to support the lifestyle to which you aspire and having spent more Christmases away than at home, missed birthdays, anniversaries and generally being with the family, I can't say which choice might be better. But $26.46 an hour!!
For an ERR?? 'Course, you've got to live in Vancouver...
Just my $0.02