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There are two ways to achieve the title of “Boat Captain.” One of them is to buy a boat, take it on the water, and declare yourself ‘captain.’ The other is to apply for a license through the U.S. Coast Guard. Commercial fishing boat skippers don’t need licenses, neither do pleasure yachters, but to become a captain, and be paid under that title, mariners must be licensed. Becoming a boat captain can be a time-consuming process. The education and experience requirements are not necessarily strict, depending on what type of boat you want to captain, but you will need to be qualified enough to obtain an appropriate license from the U.S. Coast Guard if you want to find paid work as a captain.