How to

Become a Marine Pilot

If you are considering a job as a BC Coast Pilot, we outlined the top 5 reasons our captains chose this career path. Once you have decided, where do you start?
1. Sea time.
While there are multiple paths to becoming a BC Coast Pilot (BCCP), many start out on fishing boats or tugs as deckhands and moving up to become captains of larger vessels before they are tested and trained as pilots. The most critical credential is local knowledge which can be acquired through a combination of mates’ or masters’ time on the coast. For example, BCCP candidates can accumulate a minimum of 700 days as a Master on the BC coast to qualify.
2. FAM program.
Do you want to get a real taste of what it’s like to be pilot before fully committing to the career? The Pacific Pilotage Authority offers a familiarization program that take a mariner on 20-40 trips. This gives candidates exposure to the B.C. coast.  Typically, mariners are about two years away from writing BCCP’s entrance exam. Candidates for this program hold a Master 500 GT, Near Coastal certificate of competency (CoC), and are well on their way to meeting the required amount of sea time. To apply or for more information, contact Pacific Pilotage Authority at famprogram@ppa.gc.ca
3. Exams and certifications.
As your mariner career progresses, you will have to acquire various levels of certification to obtain your 500 GT certificate of competency plus radar, ECDIS, radio (GMDSS), BRM (bridge resource management), first aid courses to name a few and a valid TC medical.

Then, to qualify for the next step, you must have one of the following variations completed:

635 days as master or OOW service AND (i) or (ii)
(i) 365 days as master or OOW service on ships of 100GT or more outside the Pacific Pilotage district + 30 familiarization trips
(ii) 365 days as master or OOW service on ships of more than 25GT while holding an FMIII. + 30 familiarization trips

Pacific pilotage regulations

  • have served not less than 635 days of service in the region as master or as a deck officer while holding a Watchkeeping Mate certificate of competency AND
  • have served not less than 365 days of service outside the region as master or as a deck officer while holding a Watchkeeping Mate certificate of competency on a ship of 100 gross tons or more, and have completed 30 familiarization trips as an observer in the Familiarization Program prior to the date of application, OR
  • have served not less than 365 days of service in the region while holding a Fishing Master, Third Class certificate of competency on a ship of 25 gross tons or more, and have completed 30 familiarization trips as an observer in the Familiarization Program prior to the date of application.
Once the sea time requirements have been satisfied, you can apply to write the BC Coast Pilots entrance exam. Eligibility includes a 100 days of service within 24 months of the application date, and sea time are 12 hour days and served in at least two of the four pilot districts.

A full list of educational, examination and sea time requirements to become a marine pilot are available on the Pacific Pilotage Authority web site.

4.  Apprenticeship
After successfully passing the exams, candidates for a BCCP position will be entered into a 9-24 month apprenticeship phase. Under the direction of senior BC marine pilots, candidates increase their knowledge and experience with further hands-on and simulation-style training to handle different types of ships and tugs and multiple situations.
5. Additional training.
Pilots are lifetime-mariners who are professional and committed to constant learning. Specialized technical training, particularly as new ships with advanced technology are continually developed, sharpens the pilots’ skills. They also share these learnings with partners in the marine industry to help ensure shipping navigation in BC waters is world-class.
More Information

For more information, Pacific Pilotage Authority Canada outlines a detailed list of requirements to become a fully licensed BC Coast Pilot. If you would like to speak to someone in recruitment, contact us at bccp@bcpilots.com or PPA.

career path
Actively recruiting new marine pilots
STUDY
Marine School + Sea Time + Certifications
  WORK
Continuous Learning, Confident, Detail Oriented
Deep local knowledge, spanning generations.