making money as a boat captain

Need to Make Some Extra Cash Become a Boat Captain

Written by Boatsetter Team
October 19, 2020

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Boatsetter Team

Learn How to Make Money as a Captain


At Boatsetter, you can captain a rental of your own boat or somebody else’s boat. We’re here to show you how to make money as a captain. Some of the advantages of being a captain include getting you out on the water and captaining a boat while getting paid for it. Also, if you already own a boat and rent it through Boatsetter, it might be a good idea to learn how to make money as a captain. However, there are a few hoops to jump through to become a boat captain. Getting a captain’s license involves taking a course (some of this, you can do online), spending some money upfront (about $750), and filling out a stack of forms. The best part of the whole process, though, is that as soon as you receive your license, you can easily pay back what you spent in just a weekend or two when you learn how to make money as a captain.


 Learn How to Make Money as a Captain

When you learn how to make money as a captain, there will always be thousands of Boatsetter customers who might want to hire you to captain their boat charter. This will help you meet fellow boaters from all over the world. 

You already know that Boatsetter allows potential renters to rent boats from private owners. If you learn how to make money as a captain, you can have a lot of fun and earn substantial extra income. We’ll discuss just how much you can potentially earn further along in this article. Often, Boatsetter customers are inexperienced boaters, and they are badly in need of a licensed and professional captain to allow them to relax and enjoy their trip.


So How do I Become a Captain, Anyway?

how to become a boat captain

Just like when you are learning to drive a car, you will first need to earn a license through the United States Coast Guard (USCG) before learning how to make money as a captain. Spend some time browsing their website for more specific information. Although there are sometimes a few more steps involved, getting a license is usually based upon these criteria: 

  • The total number of days you have sailed in your boat
  • The types of waters you have sailed upon in your boat.
  • The total weight of the boat you’ve been sailing

Your charter boat captain license will qualify you with a Merchant Mariners Credential, a combination of the former Merchant Marine Officers license and Merchant Mariners Document. The actual license appears in a small book (like a passport). Once you have this license, you are good to go out on the water for many years. If you decide to apply for a license, you’ll need to decide between four main types of charter boat captain licenses:

  1. Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vehicles License (OUPV)

Also called a 6-Pack License, this is one of the most popular types of boat captain license. You can apply for this if your boat is less than 65 feet and if you carry a maximum of six passengers. The purpose of this license would be to conduct fishing, diving, or sightseeing trips. You need to have at least 360 days of experience in inland or coastal waterways.

  1. OUPV Limited Credential

Also known as a “launchtender’s license,” this has a limited purpose. Generally, it can be used to operate uninspected vessels for a short period of time. A good way to use this license would be to transport people to and from a dock to a bigger boat anchored further out in the water. To apply for this license, you need at least 90 days of experience. You will also need to complete a United States Coast Guard (USCG)-approved Safe Boating Course.

  1. Limited Master Credential

If your boat has passed the US Coast Guard inspection and earned an inspection sticker, you should apply for this type of license. It requires 120 days of service as well as a completed USCG-approved Safe Boating Course. Your license can be extended to include sailing vessels if you have also completed 120 days of service on a sailboat.

  1. Master, 100 Tons Credential

You can use this license to operate all vessels up to 100 tons, and there are no restrictions in terms of the number of passengers you are allowed on board. To apply for this license, you must have at least 360 days of service on any vessel. There is a separate exam if you would like to qualify for a towboat assistance license. 


The Boat Captain’s License Exam

As you can see, there are many types of licenses available. However, for each type, there are three general areas of knowledge in the license exam: coastal navigation, deck knowledge, and “rules of the road.” These questions will cover important aspects like boat terminology and general safety, the use of lights and sound signals, and some questions about tides, nautical charts, and local boating regulations. It is a good idea to do as much research as possible before you apply for the exam. There are plenty of sample questions and practice tests online. To receive your license, you will need to score at least 70% on the general portion of the test and at least 90% on the Rules of the Road section.


Start Earning your Money!

making money as a boat captain 2

As you learn how to make money as a captain, you’ll realize that you can easily make around $4500 a month, which is over and above the experience of traveling worldwide and meeting so many new boaters. As you become more experienced, you’ll find that your salary expectations can soon multiply up to over $100,000 per year, depending on which state you live in. For example, Delaware and Tennessee are currently offering the best growth potential for a captain’s salary. For being a boat captain, this kind of salary is extremely good, especially if you can save a large portion of the money every year.


Other Really Good Opportunities!

Captain’s licenses last for five years or more, which is a long time! With Boatsetter’s boat rental opportunities, you might be able to arrange lots of other paid assignments once you learn how to make money as a captain. These are some of the cheapest ways to travel around the world by boat. So, you should surely be ready now to learn how to make money as a captain. Remember that you can be the boat captain of your own boat or anybody else’s boat once you are licensed. Sign up today and start learning how to make money as a captain.

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