Do Divers Need a Captain’s License?

When applying for dive jobs, does a captain’s license make you more employable? Here are some considerations if you’re planning to get one.

When applying for a spectrum of dive jobs, many advertisements require divemasters and instructors to incorporate other skills. For example, the dive shop or resort may want someone who’s skilled in compressor maintenance or who has a captain’s license. Attaining a captain’s license generally makes you exponentially more employable. You may be looking for jobs in the dive community in general or you may have your own marine craft. Either way, here are a few reasons that divers should think about completing their captain’s qualifications.

Motor or sail?

While most dive operations use motor vessels such as zodiacs or larger craft, some have delved into the sail/liveaboard and sail/dive trend. Gaining a sail license benefits those who want to undertake a more-skilled and sometimes more complex commitment. Sail and motor qualifications differ. But most courses, whether based on wind or engine, will teach students the importance of tides, wind, flags, knots, harbor lights and so forth. All this knowledge will prove critical in a nautical job. 

Employment or leisure?

Most dive employers around the globe must legally ensure that their captains have a license. So, there’s no questioning the importance of finishing the course if you wish to work as a skipper. You’ll likely become highly sought after, as a divemaster or instructor with a captain’s license can fulfill two jobs. In addition, the ability to rent a boat or purchase and capably pilot one of your own is a great benefit when you’re no longer seeking dive-industry employment. 

Which organization? 

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is one of the world’s leading boating organizations, responsible for qualifying millions of boat enthusiasts. It’s a fantastic example of a professional organization that offers a plethora of attainable and affordable courses. For most divers, especially those who would pilot zodiacs and RIBs, the RYA Powerboat Level 2 is a great choice. With no prerequisites, the two-day, £340 ($440) course can begin at the age of 12. At 16, a student can earn a full license.

Students will learn nautical practices including launching and recovery, boat handling, securing to and from a buoy, anchoring, leaving and coming alongside and man overboard. While these skills may not allow students to sail around the world, this license is a good start when it comes to working on a dive vessel. In short, attaining your captain’s license, or some nautical qualification, is nearly always a good idea when it comes to obtaining dive-industry employment.