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Six-pack or 25/50/100-ton: Which Captain's License Should I Get?

This is a question we hear all the time at Mariners Learning System. The answer depends on what you want to do with your license, such as whether you want to offer assistance towing for vessels, operate a sailboat, or be a charter captain.

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Infographic: One-Minute Guide to Which License Is Best for You

Infographic: One-Minute Guide to Which License Is Best for You
Infographic: One-Minute Guide to Which License Is Best for You
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Common Questions About Choosing the Right Captain's License

Which license should I get as a recreational boater?

Most recreational boaters choose to get the OUPV captain’s license, also known as the Six-pack. This license is not required for recreational boaters, but many boaters with no intention of operating a commercial vessel go for their OUPV captain’s license because they want to brush up on safety and navigational skills. Plus, people like the pride of knowing they’ve achieved the designation. You can also go for your Master captain’s license as a recreational boater, and you can achieve this license without first holding an OUPV/Six-pack license.

What license do I need to be a charter boat captain?

As a captain of a charter boat with six or fewer paying passengers, you need a OUPV/Six-pack captain’s license at minimum. If you want to work as the captain of a charter boat with more than six passengers, a Master license is required.

How do you become a tour boat captain?

You can work as the captain of a commercial tour boat if you acquire a USCG-approved captain’s license. For small tours with up to six paying passengers, the OUPV/Six-pack license is sufficient. For tours with more than seven or more passengers, you will need a Master captain’s license.

Networking and word of mouth are usually the best methods for landing a job as a tour boat captain. To get your foot in the door, you can start your career in the marine industry by working as a mate. This will give you invaluable local knowledge and help you get familiar with the ports and marinas in your area.

What kind of license do I need for a sailboat?

The OUPV/Six-pack license is good for both power and sail. For those who want to run sailboats with seven or more paying passengers, a Master level captain’s license with a sailing endorsement is required.

How can I learn navigational skills?

Taking a captain’s license course is a great way to learn navigational skills. A course for the OUPV/Six-pack license covers all the basics you need to know! Mariners Learning System’s lessons include tons of material about navigating at sea whether you need a license to operate a commercial vessel or just want to increase your knowledge. The navigational information in the course encompasses piloting, dead reckoning (DR), and electronic navigation.

Ready to Get Your Captain's License?

The Definitive Guide to Becoming a Licensed Captain

The Definitive Guide To Becoming A Licensed Captain

Learn how to get your Captain's License, determine which license is right for you, and understand the USCG license requirements

It's all in this eGuide!

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