Boater Education


Courtesy of S.C. DNR

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) Boater Education Program teaches the fundamentals of safe and responsible boating. This is necessary to reduce loss of life, personal injury and property damage while increasing boating enjoyment for outdoor enthusiasts.

Boaters under 16 years of age are required by law to pass an approved boater education course before operating, without supervision, a personal watercraft (jet ski) or a boat powered by 15 hp motor or more.

Taking a boater education course will allow you to comply with the boating law and may also make you eligible for a discount on your boat or Personal Water Craft (jet ski) insurance.

SCDNR offers two options to take the Boater Education Course: an instructor-led class and an online self-led class.

The Instructor-Led Class is a free six-hour class taught in a classroom. They are usually done in one-day and end with a test that is required to pass the course.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons® also provide classes throughout the state. These classes are offered for a minimal fee. Many of these classes can be found on the Boating Course Calendar that is located on the S.C. DNR Web site, under the Boater Education tab.

The Online Self-Study Course is interactive. Those who successfully complete the online test will receive a State of South Carolina boating safety certificate by mail. This requires a one-time fee of $34.95 to receive the certificate by mail.

More information on this course is also available on the S.C. DNR’s Web site, at

S.C. DNR officials also urge boaters who are also licensed to continue to follow these three safety practices while on the water:

Practice good seamanship. It is the responsibility of every boat or PWC operator to take all necessary action to avoid a collision.

Keep a proper look out. Failing to keep a sharp lookout is the most common cause of collisions

Maintain a safe speed. Safe speed is the speed that insures you will have ample time to avoid a collision. Always remember to watch for wake zones.

For more information on boater education, please check out the S.C. DNR Boating Handbook on the S.C. DNR Web site or call 1-800-277-4301.


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