Captain's License – Which License Should I go for?

Captain's License – Which License Should I go for?

Which Captain’s License should I obtain is a question that we often hear. The staff at Mariners Learning System recommends that you seek the highest-level license that you can qualify for. There are a couple of options depending on your citizenship status and boating experience.

The two main captain’s licenses issued by the Coast Guard are the Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels also know as the Six-pack or Charter Boat Captain’s License and the 25/50/100 Ton Master License.

The Six-Pack Captain’s License allows the holder to carry up to six paying passengers plus crew on uninspected vessels up to 100 gross tons – hence the term “Six-Pack.” These are usually recreational vessels that normally engage in charter fishing, SCUBA diving, or tour cruises.

The 25/50 or 100 Ton Master License allows the holder to operate inspected vessels as well as uninspected vessels. Any vessel that is authorized to carry more than 6 paying passengers must have on board a Captain who holds a Master license.

Ferryboats, harbor tours boats, whale watching and water taxis are examples of inspected vessels.

There are two additional endorsements that can be added to your license:

The Towing Endorsement may be issued to those who hold a Six-pack or Master License and would like to engage in assisting vessels for a fee. To “commercially assist” other vessels that may be aground, disabled or out of fuel, or experiencing some other malfunction requires an endorsement for Commercial Assistance Towing.

Licensed Master or mates may also be endorsed for sail or auxiliary sail, as appropriate. This endorsement authorizes the holder to operate inspected sail or auxiliary sailing vessels within the scope and limitations of their license.

Whether you’re a sailor chasing the wind, a power boater in search of your next big fish or a cruiser looking for the perfect sunset earning your Captain’s License will open the door to new opportunities.


  1. Justin Graham on January 10, 2020 at 8:55 pm

    that was not helpful at all …

  2. James Doolin on January 10, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    I lost my 100 ton certificate of completion before I could send it in to the Coast Guard.
    I do have all my required documents like CPR/First Aid, Sea Service Form, Physical Exam and drug test, receipt from
    Pay. gov …. Should I just send this in and the Coast Guard will call or email the school to verify my certificate??

  3. Cooper Schrage on January 10, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    What license could you operate a ship over 100 tons

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