Originally Posted by Edo Kazumichi
Silmaril and BigRed56,
Lets see if the picture forming in my befuddled brain is the correct one. These training programs - ASA, USS, IYT - are purely private sector operations. The certificates they offer might make it easier to rent a boat but aren't necessarily required. Similarly they might get you a break on insurance and financing but, then again, maybe not. If you want to carry passengers for hire then you have to go through the US Coast Guard prescribed training.
To put it in terms of the aviation industry it goes like this: The USCG is the FAA for boats but unlike the FAA they only issue and govern commercial licenses. Official, government recognized private licenses don't really exist.
Have I got this right?
I think you have it right, though I'm not familiar with aviation licensing. The Coast Guard is like the FAA, they're the only ones who can issue captain's (or engineer's) licenses in the U.S. Unlike the FAA, who I guess licenses everyone who wants to fly for whatever reason, they don't require a license for pleasure boating. "In general" you need a Coast Guard license only if you're carrying freight or passengers for hire. And if you need a license, only the Coast Guard issues them. These certificates from ASA, USSA, IYT, or whoever, are evidence of training (and experience too) and may convince someone to rent you their boat, or hire you as a sailing instructor, but if you get into service where you need that master's ticket, only the Coast Guard can issue it, not these other outfits.