Become a Bar Pilot

A Bar Pilot is a master mariner with specialized training and experience who navigates vessels through the San Francisco Bay to more than 200 different ports, docks, and berths.

  • An experienced mariner who meets Coast Guard license and specified command experience submits an application, supporting documentation, and fees to the Board of Pilot Commissioners (BOPC) for entry into the Pilot Trainee Training Program.
  • BOPC staff reviews applications and supporting documents for compliance, and assesses the applicant’s experience based on criteria provided in the Board’s regulations.
  • All applicants who meet the requirements are given the opportunity to take the written examination administered by the state at the California Maritime Academy (CMA) in Vallejo, California.
  • All candidates who pass the written examination are given the opportunity to take the simulator exercise at CMA.
  • All candidates who pass the simulator exercise are placed on an eligibility list in the order of their total scores from the written test, the simulator exercise, and their experience points.
  • Openings in the training program are offered to candidates in their order on the list.
  • The eligibility list may be used by the Board to fill openings for up to three years