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So, You Want to Become a Captain?

How to Become a Licensed Captain. Get your OUPV 6-Pack or Master 100-ton license!

If you have the desire to become a captain, you will need to obtain a U.S. Coast Guard-Approved captain’s license. A captain’s license is needed to operate non-recreational vessels, such as fishing charters or tankers. 

There are many benefits to becoming a captain, such as financial security, opportunity for adventure and being out on the ocean. As you increase in ranking you will have the opportunity for a higher salary. As you further your license to allow you to operate higher-tonnage vessels, you will have the ability to make more money. While salary is important, there is also security and stability of work within the maritime industry. Lastly, if you enjoy being out on the water, becoming a captain allows you to be out on the water for longer periods of time. As a captain, you will be where you love and also get to see new places.


If you want to captain a vessel with up to six paying passengers, you will need to obtain an OUPV (Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel) License, also known as a U.S. Coast Guard Six-Pack Captain’s License. This license is for those who wish to offer either fishing or sailing charters, tours, or drive dive boats. Captains with the OUPV License can achieve an annual salary of anywhere from $45,000 – $115,000.

To obtain this license, there are sea time and course requirements. For sea time, you will need to have had 360 service days in either Near Coastal, Great Lakes, or Inland waters depending on which license you want. You will also need to have completed 90 days of sea service in the last 3 years. Your OUPV Course also requires you to complete First Aid and CPR. You will also need to complete FCC Radio Operator’s Permit. 

See All OUPV Requirements Here:

See the OUPV Course Here:

Master 100-Ton

If you want to captain larger passenger vessels such as yachts, smaller ferries, tugboats, and other vessels of that kind, then you are looking for a 100-ton Master License. Captains with Master 100-Ton licenses can achieve an annual salary of anywhere from $60,000 – $170,000.

To obtain this license, the sea service requirements are: 

  • 720 days of service on Ocean, Near Coastal or Great Lakes for a Near Coastal license, or 
  • 360 days for a Great Lakes or Inland license 

This license also has tonnage requirements, which depend on if you are looking to work on 25 GRT vessels, 50 GRT vessels, or 100 GRT vessels. To complete this course, you will need to complete: First Aid and CPR, OUPV, and FCC Radio Operator’s Permit.

See All Master 100-Ton Requirements Here:

If you are looking to operate vessels over 100-tons, then you can look into obtaining either a Master 200-Ton license, a Master 500-ton license, or a Master 1600-Ton license. All these courses are offered at Northeast Maritime Institute and are based on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Standards of Training of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW). 

For our full list of course offerings on-site and online, visit our website!

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