• Add description, images, menus and links to your mega menu

  • A column with no settings can be used as a spacer

  • Link to your collections, sales and even external links

  • Add up to five columns

  • May 13, 2024

    There are as many reasons to earn a captain’s license in Texas as there are sailors.

    Maybe your dream is to take passengers out for hire. Maybe you want to enhance your safety on the water. Or maybe you simply want to learn more about boating and take pride in calling yourself a captain.

    Whatever your reason, understanding how to get a captain’s license in Texas (or any other state) is your first step to success.

    The Best Reasons to Get a Captain’s License in Texas

    Thanks to popular media, people are more likely to picture cowboys than sailors when they think of Texas. But the Lone Star State isn’t a desert wasteland devoid of boating spots. In fact, it boasts thousands of lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, many of which offer premier boating opportunities.

    As such, Texas holds a wealth of commercial opportunities for enterprising boaters earning their captain’s licenses — everything from fishing charters to watersports to ecotours.

    The following Texas destinations are some of its most popular and offer a wide variety of possibilities for pleasure boaters and entrepreneurs alike.

    Lake Texoma

    A large reservoir on the Texas-Oklahoma border, Lake Texoma sits about an hour and a half north of Dallas. It’s one of the largest lakes in the country and a popular destination for sailing and fishing (an especially great spot for bass!).

    Attracting roughly 6 million visitors per year, the lake is home to plenty of excellent marinas, providing relatively easy access.

    Lake Travis

    Central Texas is home to the beautiful and popular Lake Travis, a reservoir stretching over 60 miles and formed from the Colorado River. With over 200,000 visitors flocking in every summer, the clear blue lake offers fishing, sailing, and water sports, including scuba diving.

    The Gulf of Mexico

    Texas has 367 miles of mostly broad, sandy beaches along its Gulf Coast. The warm southern climate makes area cities nearly year-round destinations for recreational boating. Plus, each Gulf city offers its own unique features.

    For example, Galveston — just an hour outside of Houston — is known for fishing, sailing, and dolphin-watching tours. Further south, Corpus Christi is popular for water sports such as kiteboarding and parasailing. Then there’s South Padre Island, sitting just 20 miles from the southern border, offering excellent diving and ecotourism with its reefs and abundance of marine wildlife.

    And, of course, all three destinations are popular with enthusiastic saltwater fishers. The Gulf offers plenty of opportunity for great saltwater fishing. Specifically, you’ll find redfish, snapper, and yellowfin tuna in Galveston; red drum, flounder, and spotted sea trout in Corpus; and snook, tarpon, and snapper in South Padre.

    Texas Captain’s License Requirements

    Captain’s license requirements aren’t specific to Texas or any other state; they’re the same across the country. The most significant requirement is a minimum of 360 documented days of boating experience. Each day must consist of at least four hours on the water, with only one day claimed per 24-hour period.

    If you’re pursuing a Six-Pack, you’ll receive either an Inland captain’s license for lakes, rivers, and bays or a Near Coastal captain’s license for U.S. inland waterways and up to 100 miles offshore. The license you get depends on the type of experience you have. If you want a Near Coastal license, make sure 90 days of your experience are in the ocean or near-coastal waters.

    The tricky part about earning a Near Coastal captain’s license in Texas is the Gulf. The U.S. Coast Guard defines “near coastal” as water outside the boundary line. This poses no problem along the Atlantic coast of the Northeast, but the Gulf of Mexico’s boundary line lies 12 nautical miles offshore.

    So be careful about logging your boating experience in the Gulf. Anything within that boundary, even if several miles offshore, is considered inland water. There may be salt water as far as your eye can see, but unless you go outside the boundary, you can’t count that day as one in near-coastal waters.


    Infographic: How To Get A Captain’s License in Texas

    How to Get a Captain’s License in Texas: Step by Step

    Getting your captain’s license can be a lengthy process, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated one. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what the process usually looks like; keep in mind that many of the steps can overlap. 

    Step #1: Gain and Document Your Experience

    You should be well on your way to collecting your required 360 days of experience by the time you’re ready to start your licensing course. You don’t need to have them all done before starting the next step, but make sure you have a plan to complete them, as some of the later steps have firm timing windows.

    Step #2: Complete an Approved Captain’s License Course and Exam

    To apply for a license, you need to complete either the Coast Guard’s exam or a Coast Guard-approved exam. The best way to prepare is by completing a course that provides the resources and guidance you need every step of the way.

    Mariners Learning System offers a comprehensive and flexible online course that ends with a Coast Guard-approved exam. Our course is unique because we’ve intentionally designed it to encompass both Inland and Near Coastal licenses, which means you’ll gain complete boating knowledge and access to both license types.

    While you can certainly choose to take the Coast Guard’s test, that exam pulls from a database of over 10,000 questions, not all of them necessarily related to earning a captain’s license. Our Coast Guard-approved exam narrows its focus to the specific information you need to know as a captain out on the water.

    Once you register with Mariners, you have one year to complete the course on your own schedule, and you can retake the test until you succeed.

    Step #3: Meet Additional Coast Guard Requirements

    Aside from experience, other requirements include:

    • Physical exam
    • CPR certification
    • First Aid certification
    • TWIC
    • Passed drug test
    • Application fee to the Coast Guard

    If you go directly to the Coast Guard for your testing, you must meet all the requirements and submit an application before being allowed to test. One benefit of taking a captain’s license course with Mariners is that you have a year to complete the course and another year to meet all Coast Guard requirements.

    Time your physical carefully. Regardless of the avenue you choose, your physical exam must take place within six months of your captain’s license application. We recommend waiting to get a physical until you’ve completed the program and are close to submitting your license application.

    Step #4: Apply for a Captain’s License

    Once you meet the requirements and pass the exam, you can apply for your captain’s license in Texas with the Coast Guard. They typically process your paperwork and issue your license within a few months.

    Get Your Captain’s License in Texas With Mariners

    Getting a captain’s license in Texas is a great way to open yourself up to commercial opportunities, increase your safety on the water, and/or gain deeper knowledge about boating in general.

    Quote Card: How To Get A Captain’s License in Texas


    Now that you know how to get a captain’s license in Texas, the only thing left to do is earn it. At Mariners, we help you navigate the process from start to finish. Contact us today to learn more.

    Leave a comment

    Comments will be approved before showing up.