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Why It’s a Good Idea to Get a Captain’s License

Source: Mariners Learning System, By Captain Bob Figular

If you are thinking about a career in the water, here’s more incentive for you to run and get your captain’s license today; you can make over six figures as a charter boat captain. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for a charter boat captain was over sixty thousand dollars a year. However, those who live in high traffic areas like Florida could make over one hundred thousand dollars a year easily.

There appears to be openings as well. In 2008, there were 33,100 captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels. That number is expected to go up to 38,800 by 2018. That’s an increase of over fifteen percent. If you want to take advantage of this emerging trend, you’ll need to take the proper steps and coursework to make sure you’re qualified to captain a vessel in the water.

The first thing you’ll need to do is come up with a record of your sea experience. Depending on the license, you will need to have a certain amount of days out on sea in order to qualify. For example, the OUPV captain’s license requires that you have 360 days of sea time. If you do not have the experience, you do have time. The USCG gives you one year to finish your sea service time after you complete the proper coursework.

Along with coursework like those you’ll find with the USCG-approved Mariners Learning System, you will need to pass your physical examination and a drug test conducted by the Department of Transportation. You will also have your fingerprints submitted to the FBI to make sure you have not committed a DUI or drug-related offense within five years. Finally, you will need a TWIC card, which is your ticket to captaining a boat besides the license. Anyone with an OUPV captain’s license needs one.

If you have any questions about the process for a USCG captain’s license, please don’t hesitate to ask.


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