Become a San Francisco Bar Pilot

A San Francisco Bar Pilot is a highly qualified mariner with specialized training and experience who navigates vessels through the San Francisco Bay to more than 200 docks and maritime facilities.

  • 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 provided the opportunity to take the written examination administered by the BOPC at the CSU Maritime Academy in Vallejo, California.
  • All candidates who pass the written examination advance to a ship simulator evaluation that is also conducted at CSU Maritime Academy.
  • All candidates who pass the simulator evaluation are placed on an eligibility list in the order of their total scores. Scores are derived from the written test, simulator evaluation and experience points.
  • Openings in the Training Program are offered to candidates in their order on the eligibility list.
  • The eligibility list may be used by the Board to fill openings for up to three years.