How to Become a Boat Captain

A Boat Captain is also referred to as a merchant mariner and is responsible for commandeering and supervising civilian owned water vessels.

This includes supervising the crew and commandeering a boat to its final destination.

Education Requirements to Become a Boat Captain

Individuals who want to become a Boat Captain will need a combination of experience, education and credentials to enter this profession.

Although not a specific requirement, individuals can opt to begin their career as a Boat Captain during their teens by attending a specialized maritime high school.

There are only 19 of these maritime high schools across the country, meaning the majority of individuals need to gain their education by attending a postsecondary school.

Individuals who want to become a Boat Captain can do so by attending a postsecondary school focused on maritime.

There are a handful of maritime academies that individuals can attend to earn a degree in marine transportation or maritime operations.

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For a list of schools, visit the U.S.

Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration’s website at MARAD.

During a typical postsecondary program, individuals who want to become a Boat Captain will work towards a bachelor’s degree, earn a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC) as well as an endorsement as a third assistant engineer or as a third mate.

Typical degrees to become a Boat Captain include: marine engineering, marine transportation, maritime operations and intermodal transportation.

After completing a bachelor’s degree, individuals can apply for entry level positions such as a deck officer or third mate in order to gain experience in the field.

Individuals may also become a Boat Captain through years of experience in the industry.

Individuals pursuing this route may apply for an entry level position, such as a deckhand to gain experience in the water transportation field and work their way up to Boat Captain.

In addition, Boat Captains must also seek a credential from the Transportation Security Administration called Transportation Worker Identification Credential.

You may visit their website at TWIC.

Boat Captain Job Description

Boat Captains are responsible for the entire control and command of a boat or vessel.

They are in charge of managing the crew and assuring the proper protocol is followed to get to the assigned location.

In addition, they are also accountable for the safety of all individuals on a boat including all passengers, cargo and the crew.

Boat captains will observe and manage crew members such as other officers, deckhands, mates and pilots; this includes assuring crew members are following safety protocols.

Coat Captains will also prepare budgets that cover maintenance and repairs, supervise the boarding and unloading of passengers and cargo, track the movements a ship or boat makes and logging and recording the information.

Boat Captains will also perform customer service related activities by interacting with passengers.

Boat Captain Salary and Career Path

According to figures from 2012, professionals serving in Water Transportation occupations can expect to earn an annual median wage of approximately $48,980; however, because Boat Captains have additional duties, the income rises to a median wage of approximately $66,150 per year.

Exact wages will depend on the industry an individual chooses to work in.

The top five hiring industries for this profession include: government agencies, tourism industry and water transportation companies.

The job outlook for water transportation occupations as a whole is expected to grow by 13 percent through 2022.

The job outlook for boat captains, mates and pilots has a slightly faster growth at 14 percent through the same year.

The most favorable growth will affect water transportation occupations and is caused by the state of the economy and its recovery.

Individuals who are interested in maritime or water transportation may be a perfect fit for Boat Captain.

There are a variety of ways individuals can enter this field including starting at entry level such as a deckhand and working their way up, or attending a specialized maritime high school or postsecondary school.

No matter which direction an individual chooses, they can be assured that they will enjoy their career managing boats traveling by water.

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