November 2, 2022

USCG Captain’s License Requirements

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a fishing charter captain or piloting your own vessel for a commercial venture, you’re in luck because, as of 2022, charter boat captains make as much as $83,000 per year on average.

There are many other jobs for which you will need to fulfill the Captain’s License Requirements for the U.S. Coast Guard, as well. These range from merchant marine and being an actual member of the United States Coast Guard.

Several different requirements must be met depending on the specific career path or licensure you need. Take the first step on your way to a life on the water and review these USCG Captain’s License Requirements.

What are the Different Licenses?

Before we get too far, let’s first go over the overall basics and the decisions that you will need to make relevant to your desired career path and the number of passengers or cargo you plan to carry. These factors weigh heavily on the more detailed requirements, which you can read about next.

What is a “Six Pack License?”

A Six Pack (also known as a “6pk”) License allows you to carry up to six passengers. These are then broken out into categories called “routes.” These “routes” include either inland or near-coastal.

What’s the Difference Between Inland and Near-Coastal?”

An Inland route allows the license holder to carry passengers in lakes, rivers, and bays. Near-Coastal routes allow everything that the Inland route does, with the addition of carrying people no further than 100 miles offshore.

What If I Want to Go Further Than 100 Miles?

To carry passengers more than 100 miles offshore on fishing charters, you will need to get your Master’s License. This will allow you to carry more than 6 passengers up to 200 miles offshore. Since you’re looking into being a fishing charter captain, being a Near-Coastal USCG licensed captain is all you should ever need.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, you can read on for specific details.

Detailed Captain’s License Requirements

In order to obtain the license you want, you will need to fulfill the requirements below. You can also find a link for the application form you’ll need for your Merchant Mariner’s Credential.

Pass the Exam

You will need to pass the coast guard exam. It is recommended that you choose a training center to prepare for the exam. While these schools charge a tuition fee, they will prepare you for everything you need to pass.

Get On the Water

You will need witnesses’ signatures certifying that you have spent at least 360 days as a member of a crew on a vessel. This needs to include 90 days in the last 3 years and 90 days at sea.

Government Paperwork

You will need to provide your Social Security card, Proof of Citizenship, your application form (a completed CG Form 719B), and proof that you have passed your exam. You will also need to provide a copy of your TWIC card (which is a background check form).

Health Paperwork

Some kind of medical certificate that you have passed a recent vision exam and proof that you are certified in First Aid, and CPR will be required. You will also need to provide proof that you passed a random drug test at some point in the last six months. Lastly, you must submit written character references from reliable and pertinent sources.

Find A Training Center Now and Get Ready To Work On the Water

Now that you know the Captain’s License Requirements, the next step is to start studying for the first step in the process – passing the exam. As mentioned above, you should contact a trusted training center to learn all that you’ll need to know to pass the exam and begin your career as the captain of your own vessel.

USCG Captain's License Requirements

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