The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced that The College of the Florida Keys (CFK) is among 32 entities designated as Centers of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education (CoE) in 2024. This is the second consecutive time that CFK has received the designation, which it will hold for the next five years. The College was among the first recognized by MARAD in 2021, the last time the designations were bestowed. The CoE designation recognizes colleges and training institutions that are demonstrably successful at preparing students for careers in the maritime industry. These institutions are located in 17 states and one U.S. territory. CFK is one of two organizations and the only college in Florida to receive the designation.

“Our country depends on a highly-skilled mariner workforce to strengthen both our economy and our national security,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a press release from MARAD on February 22. “The 32 Centers of Excellence we're designating today will promote training opportunities outside of traditional four-year degree programs and will bring more Americans into these great maritime careers.”

For over 50 years, CFK has supported local and regional maritime industries with education and training opportunities at its waterfront Key West Campus, situated between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Programs include an Associate in Applied Science in Marine Engineering, Management, and Seamanship, certificates in Marine Technology and Welding, as well as non-credit courses. Through these opportunities and others, the College provides professional training for careers in many maritime sectors, including gasoline and diesel engine repair and maintenance, welding, fiberglass boat building and repair, small boat handling and operations training, diving business and technology, marine environmental technology, and ecotourism and hospitality. Over the past year, the College has expanded its marine science programs, including marine engineering courses, to its Upper Keys Center in Key Largo.

With the CoE designation, CFK can now work with MARAD to enhance programs and services for students and faculty, to upgrade facilities, to award credit for military service, and to potentially receive assistance in the form of surplus equipment or temporary use of MARAD vessels.

“This honor is a testament to the caliber of CFK’s maritime education and career training programs. It speaks to our dedication and effectiveness as a premier workforce provider,” said Dr. Jonathan Gueverra, CFK President and CEO. “The CoE designation is an important stamp of approval that CFK’s reputation and relationships with industry partners is among the best. Our students and faculty can be proud of the programs’ quality, and our partners now have additional validation of our efforts.”

CFK currently has active partnerships with industry and workforce education providers such as Yamaha Motor Corporation, the National Maritime Workforce Alliance, and the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI). The College is a member of the Marine Trades Accreditation Program (MTAP) with the American Boating and Yacht Council (ABYC), the American Welding Society, the American Academy of Underwater Science (AAUS), and Diver’s Alert Network (DAN). Such collaborations ensure that students and graduates are equipped with the academic and industry credentials and skills necessary to succeed in their field upon graduation.

“The Center of Excellence designation from MARAD is verification that CFK’s Marine Science and Technology programs and esteemed faculty are training well-prepared, highly skilled, and qualified graduates for the growing industry of maritime professionals,” said Jack Seubert, CFK Dean of Marine Science and Technology. “CoE designation opens the door for cooperative agreements that increase student and faculty recruitment, training opportunities, and expansion of programs and facilities, ultimately contributing to an innovative and resilient maritime workforce.”

CFK's Maritime Programs

Marine Science

Our school is nestled within the heart of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and students will be immersed in one of the most ocean oriented communities in the world. Whether you’re interested in earning an AA degree in Marine/Aquatic Biology for transfer to a four-year institution, or an AS degree in Marine Environmental Technology to enter a marine-related industry immediately, CFK can make it happen.

Marine Engineering, Management and Seamanship

During the program the student will learn about vessels from the wheel to the keel. The student will assist in building a vessel, provide it with propulsion, power distribution systems, auxiliary systems, and general navigation equipment. The last and final phase of the training will see the student learning to operate the craft as both Captain and Crew. All phases of marine servicing instruction follow manufacturer and industry standards.

James E. Lockwood Jr. School of Diving

The James E. Lockwood Jr. School of Diving is one of the largest facilities dedicated to diving science and technology education. With a 40-foot deep dive training lagoon and a living coral reef just five miles away, the term “classroom” takes on an entirely new meaning. Our goal is to have our students apply diving in other academic disciplines.

Engineering Technology/Renewable Energy

Engineering Technology is a growing field that involves a combination of math, science, design and communications skills to create and repair various devices and structures. An associate degree in Engineering Technology provides a versatile foundation from which students can pursue a variety of careers.

Career Planning

The College of the Florida Keys has many partners within the maritime workforce. Click below to learn more about maritime employment opportunities!