Though longshoremen of yore faced lots of heavy lifting, cranes and forklifts ease the burden, as modern longshoremen unload cargo ships at port. Becoming a longshoreman doesn't require extensive education; and most companies have a high turnover rate, making it a ripe field for new workers. Home to 23 ports and thriving branches of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Oregon is an ideal place to start a longshoreman's career.
Prepare a resume. Highlight your experience in labor and maritime fields. Despite the prevalence of mechanized loading, you'll still have to do some lifting – especially at the entry level – so include a “Skills” section that details your physical capabilities. Mention your mechanical abilities, communication skills and any education or experience you have regarding geometry, large equipment operation or goods processing.
Call or visit a local branch of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the most prominent longshoremen's union in the country. There are five locals in Portland – one on Oak, three on Front Avenue and one on 23rd Avenue. The ILWU also has offices on Sheridan Avenue in North Bend, Industry Street in Astoria and 13th Street in Newport. The union can help provide you with the training you need and inform you of current job openings.
Check the classified ads in your local newspaper, such as the "Oregonian," the "Astorian" and the "North Bend World." Contact stevedores at companies that are currently hiring and ask to submit your resume. Use online free classifieds, such as the Oregon section of Craig's List -- browse the “general labor” section under “jobs” every day.
Hit the docks. You'll see plenty of materials being transported, especially in Portland, Astoria and North Bend. Other ports -- such as Coos Bay, Garibaldi and Morrow -- also see activity for longshoremen. Observe the work and approach a stevedore one-on-one in his downtime. Express you interest in working for him and tell him what you can bring to the job. If he's not hiring, ask if he knows anyone who is.
Further your education if you don't find work. Though being a longshoreman doesn't traditionally require a college degree, the field is becoming increasingly technical; a targeted education may give you a leg up. In Astoria, Clatsop Community College has a maritime science department with one-year certificates in seasmanship and vessel operations, which can easily segue into longshoreman work. Being surrounded by maritime-focused academics may also expose you to new job leads.