There are three primary components to becoming a licensed captain. You need to meet minimum boating experience requirements, pass a physical and drug test, pass a written exam.

Is documenting boating experience complicated?

Man Driving BoatQuite frequently we hear the question,” How do you document your boating experience? I have been boating my entire life, but have never kept formal logs.” Fortunately, the USCG is not expecting formal logs and there are several simple ways to document boating experience. If the time was aboard your own boat, you will sign off on that time and provide proof of ownership. Where to claim time acquired on someone else's boat, the owner will sign off for you. Do not feel overwhelmed, as this is all done off the honor system.

How difficult is completing the additional requirements for a captain’s license?

In addition to documenting boating experience, additional requirements include completing a physical and drug test, background check, and a basic first aid and adult CPR course.

A physical can be completed by a U.S. licensed primary care physician such as those in your local doctor's office. It is similar to a standard employment physical, just on the Coast Guard's form. Also, drug tests must successfully be taken at an approved facility.

Background checks are completed by passing a security threat assessment. You will provide basic information, fingerprints, and a digital photograph.

Basic First Aid and Adult CPR courses are typically combined and can be completed within a few hours locally through approved classroom courses such as those offered by the American Red Cross.

How challenging is the written requirement?

The written requirement will require you to study. However, with an interactive online classroom, self-paced format, and direct access to staff and instructors our courses help provide you with all the tools necessary for producing success. Our interactive classrooms are rich with insightful audio, video, and visual study aids to help you along the way. The self-paced online format allows you to learn the material at your own pace, rather than keeping up with the cadence of a classroom, allowing you to focus on subjects most important to you. Lastly, our staff and live instructors are standing by to answer questions that may come up throughout the entire process. The tools provided have helped over 100,000 students graduate from Mariners Learning System with a 98.7% success rate.

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