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How to Become a Pilot

What is a Maritime Pilot?
photo of pilot boarding ship 
pilot boarding ship
A maritime or marine pilot goes aboard ocean-going vessels such as freighters, tankers, and passenger liners at anchor in the ports or on the open sea near the entrance to designated bar or bay crossings.  After making their way to the bridge of the vessel, the pilot assumes the con and guides the vessel through traffic, rocks, reefs, shoals and narrow channels to its destination.  The occupation assumes significant responsibility and climbing ship ladders can be dangerous. 
Maritime states have mandatory pilotage laws for, at the very least, foreign-flag vessels of a certain size.  A state pilot is a highly regulated occupation.  The Board of Maritime Pilots regulates the requirements for selection, training, and education, and sets the salary of our licensees. 

How to Become a Pilot
Cpt Dempsey & Cpt  McIntyre  
Captain Deborah Dempsey and Captain Anne McIntyre
The piloting profession is widely considered the pinnacle of a maritime career.  The first step to becoming a pilot is to first be a professional mariner with drive and determination.  There is no direct path.  There are no "pilot" schools or any training system that takes a totally unfamiliar person off the street and turns them into a maritime pilot.  Some pilots have had careers on ocean-going vessels and others had careers on inland vessels such as tugs and barges.  Individuals interested in a maritime career often begin at a maritime academy or vocational training school.  There are numerous resources available to learn about beginning a maritime career in our link Related Sites. 
In Oregon, only individuals who have experience and can demonstrate knowledge of currents, tides, soundings, bearings and distances of shoals, rocks, bars, points of landings, lights and fog signals can direct a large vessel on certain waters of the State. 
Pilots are appointed by the Board from a list of candidates ranked according to the procedures in our rules and outlined in the Instructions and Information for submitting an application.  The highest scoring candidate is selected when it is determined there is a need for a new pilot.  
A Career as a Pilot

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