what degree do you need to become a Ship and Boat Captain
majors for Ship and Boat Captains

Ship and Boat Captains

Other names for this job might include Barge Captain, Barge Master, Boat Captain, Boat Master, Boat Operator, Boatswain, Canal Boat Captain, Canal Boat Operator, Captain, Charter Boat Captain

  • $83150
  • 75%
    Job satisfaction
  • Medium
    Becoming one
  • Medium
    Job growth
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Be A Ship and Boat Captain: What You Really Need

In this requirements guide for Ship and Boat Captains, you will find out what do you need to become a Ship and Boat Captain and what it takes to become one.

After reading this, you will be able to plan for your future if you want to be a Ship and Boat Captain.

Degree required

Recommended degree level

Post-Secondary Certificate


High School Diploma

Some college courses

No degree

Bachelors degree

Generally, employers are looking for Ship and Boat Captains who have a Certificate. They also prefer someone who is good in Coordination and Speaking.

1 common question that we always get is what major or degree do I need to become A Ship and Boat Captain or what courses do I need to take.

We did a survey to ask other Ship and Boat Captains what did they major in college or university and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Commercial Fishing
Marine Science/Merchant Marine Officer

Most Ship and Boat Captains have a bachelor’s degree from a merchant marine academy. The academy programs offer a bachelor’s degree and a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC) with an endorsement as a third mate or third assistant engineer. Graduates of these programs can also choose to receive a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Merchant Marine Reserve, or U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. Non-officers, such as sailors or marine oilers, usually do not need a degree.


schools for Ship and Boat Captains

Interested in becoming A Ship and Boat Captain? Find the right schools that can help you to become one. You will need some of your details to get you matched with the right college or university. This service is free thanks to our sponsors.

Questions to ask the university or college:

  1. How many students are in the program?
  2. Is your program accredited?
  3. How many faculty members do you have? Do they hold the right credentials?
  4. What is your job placement rate?
  5. Does your school hold career fairs or other on-campus events with employers? How many employers typically attend?
  6. How many of your students have at least one internship by graduation?
Click to start becoming a Ship and Boat Captain

How long does it take


You may need some previous work-related skill, knowledge or experience to be A Ship and Boat Captain.

For example: An electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.

To become A Ship and Boat Captain, you will usually need 1 to 2 years of training which includes both on-the-job experience and training with experienced workers.

How long does it take
4 to 6 years

Work experience
4 to 6 years
2 to 4 years

4 to 6 years

1 to 2 years

6 months to 1 year

No experience

Job training
1 to 3 months
2 to 4 years

1 to 2 years

6 months to 1 year

4 to 10 years

1 to 3 months

Most Ship and Boat Captains have 4 to 6 years work experience and 1 to 3 months job training.

To increase your chances of getting a job, you can look for job training while studying to be one.

License and certifications

Do you need any license or certification

All mariners working on ships with U.S. flags must have a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) from the Transportation Security Administration. Most mariners must also have a Merchant Marine Credential (MMC). To move up each step of the occupation ladder, from third mate/third assistant engineer to second to first and then to captain or chief engineer, requires 365 days of experience at the previous level. A second mate or second assistant engineer who wants to move to first mate/first assistant engineer also must complete a 12-week training course and pass an exam.

Skills required

We asked other Ship and Boat Captains if they could only have 5 skills, what would they be. Here is what they said.

1. Coordination what does this mean
2.Speaking what does this mean
3.Operation Monitoring what does this mean
4.Operation and Control what does this mean
5.Judgement and Decision Making what does this mean
= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

We did some research and found that most successful Ship and Boat Captains have these 5 common characteristics. Most of them had Dependability and Leadership.

3.Self Control
4.Stress Tolerance

Knowledge required

Just like any other job, you will need some know-hows to do the job. To become a successful Ship and Boat Captains you need to acquire knowledge in these 5 key areas.

1. Public Safety and Security what does this mean
2.Transportation what does this mean
3.Customer and Personal Service what does this mean
4.Administration and Management what does this mean
5.Education and Training what does this mean

As A Ship and Boat Captain, you may also be required to know how to use certain Computer aided design CAD software, Facilities management software and Route navigation software tools.

Autodesk Revit (Computer aided design CAD software)
Computerized maintenance management system CMMS software (Facilities management software)
Jeppesen Marine Nobeltec Admiral (Route navigation software)
KNMI TurboWin (Data base user interface and query software)
Log book software (Data base user interface and query software)
= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for

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Career type

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Transportation Operations

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