District 12, covering the Greater Boston Area

Boating Education

United States Power Squadrons provides many educational opportunities to both the boating public and to its members. One of the key concepts of the United States Power Squadrons is the self-education of its members, meaning that successful students go on to teach other students to perpetuate boating knowledge. USPS instructors who teach public courses are also certified regarding their ability to teach and use modern instructional methods.

Courses and Seminars

As part of the USPS boating education program, District 12 member squadrons teach courses and present seminars throughout the year in various locations. These courses and seminars are presented for both USPS members and the boating public. Current information on scheduled and proposed offerings can be found on our course schedule page. USPS courses are multi-session offerings that usually meets one night a week for a number of weeks. The length of courses vary from eight sessions to thirteen depending on the course. USPS Seminars are single sessions events usually lasting two hours that focus on a narrow boating topic, such as Anchoring, Rules of the Road, Marine Radio, and more.


USPS Seminars are targeted at specific topics and skills, for a range of boaters and types of boating. In all USPS has created over 20 Seminars, many of which are periodically offered by District 12. A complete listing of seminar topics can be found on the USPS web site


For people looking for more comprehensive boating education opportunities, District 12 squadrons present a wide range of USPS courses, covering basic boating skills, navigation and other boating related topics. These course offerings are part of the overall USPS educational curriculum that includes Advanced Grade and Elective courses as well as a comprehensive boating safety course, America's Boating Course.

America's Boating Course is the USPS public basic boating education course. Successful completion is honored by all states for their basic boat licensing requirements and most boat insurance companies for premium reductions. Those between the ages of 12 and 16 can obtain their Massachusetts Powerboat Operators Certificate.

Topics covered: Boat handling, state and federal requirements and regulations, safety equipment, aids to navigation, charts and course plotting, knots, marine radio use, trailering, personal watercraft use, and much more.

The Advanced Grades are a series of in-depth navigational courses, and completion of the highest level course determines a member's "grade". Letter grades may appear in USPS printed materials while insignia appear on a member's uniform. Descriptions of these courses, as well as the letter grades and insignia, are given on the Advanced Grades page.

The Elective offerings cover a wide range of related boating topics other than navigation. These courses include Marine Electronics, Weather and Cruise planning. A complete listing and descriptions of these courses are given on the elective courses page.

Boat Operator Certification

Recently, USPS has started a Boat Operator Certification program. With the Boat Operator's Certification Program, USPS will certify USPS members at various levels of recreational boating proficiency. There are four levels in the program:

Certification at any level requires successful completion of all prescribed elements including:

For more information go to the USPS Boat Operator Certification page.

On-line Resources

Although the primary advantage of the USPS educational program is having local squadrons and local instructors to deliver quality material to boaters, we recognize that emerging boaters are of a generation that often favors eLearning and self-paced learning. The following links provide information about on-line boating education opportunities.

Courses & Seminars

America's Boating Course
In addition to classroom presentation, America's Boating Course can be taken in any of three ways: on the Internet, by studying a 244-page course manual, or with a CD. No matter how you like to learn, when you sign up you'll receive a complete package that includes the course manual, the boating course CD, and a PIN number giving you access to the Internet course.

Online USPS courses and seminars
Up-to-date information on USPS courses and seminars available online.

Paddle Smart
Paddle Smart is a USPS seminar on a series of topics created especially for paddle sports. The website provides a public oriented presentation of the Paddle Smart information.

Additional Resources

USPS YouTube Channel
A series of short 1-2 minute videos on selected topics from the Boat Operator Certification on the water training.

National Safe Boating Quiz
It is our belief that knowledge is the key to a safe and enjoyable boating experience. If you would like to find out where you stand, take our boating quiz.