Boat Safety Course: Learn Boating Basics

By: Kathy Teel June 13, 2012
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Most people have a good idea how to get a driver’s license, because most people will get one at some point in their lives, but it’s not always as clear what the requirements are for a boating license.

It’s important to know that the law approaches boating differently from driving a car, and getting a boat license isn’t the same as taking a license exam for a car.

Do I Need a Boating License?

It depends on your state.

Some states require all boaters to get a boating license; others require only boaters of a certain age to get licensed. Some states don't require boating licenses but do require boat safety courses.

Check the boat license requirements for your state.

Do I have to Take a Boat Safety Course to Get My Boating License?

Probably, but again, it’s important to check.

A few states don’t require a boat safety course at all, but some do. Among those that do, some require a boat safety course for anyone who operates a boat, and some only require it for operators who fall in a certain age category or who operate a certain type of vessel.

Where Can I Take a Boat Safety Course?

There are several ways you can take a boat safety course:

  • Sign up for an online boat safety course. Many commercial boater education companies offer these.
  • Check with your local Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary office.
  • Check with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for your state. It may be called by a slightly different name, but in every state it’s the department that manages natural resources.

Just make sure your state approves the course you choose (if you're taking the course in order to get a boat license).

What are the Benefits of a Boat Safety Course?

Even if you’re not required by law to take a boat safety course in order to obtain a boating license, it’s still a good idea to have one.

The benefits of a boat safety course include:

  • Becoming familiar with the laws that apply to you.
  • Learning about the relationship between boating and the environment.
  • Gaining supervised practiced of the skills and techniques a boat pilot needs.
  • A lower rate on your boat’s insurance.

Have you taken a boat safety course? How beneficial was it?

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