Flying across the water on a jet ski is some of the most exhilarating fun a person can have. However, it also requires technical proficiency and an understanding of how to stay safe while out on the water.
In this blog post, you’ll learn whether or not you need boater education to ride a jet ski in Texas, how to select a boater safety course that’s approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and, finally, where to take the course and pass the exam.
Starting Your Jet Ski Adventure
The first step in your jet ski adventure is learning about licensing, education, insurance requirements and local regulations. Once you know what it takes to pilot a personal watercraft legally, you’ll be ready to learn how to do so safely. After you’ve fulfilled the legal requirements for boating and completed our boating safety course, you’ll be ready to experience the joy of jet skiing in Texas.
What is a Personal Watercraft?
Texas law doesn’t refer to jet skis by name, but it does mention personal watercraft (PWC). That’s because Jet Ski® is a registered trademark of Kawasaki Motors Corp. A PWC is any small vessel, such as a Jet Ski, Sea-Doo or WaveRunner, that uses an inboard jet drive as its primary source of propulsion.
PWC can be divided into two types based on the operator’s position: sitting or standing. The more popular type is the sit-down version, which typically seats two or more people. A stand-up PWC generally is a smaller, lighter vehicle that is used for sport rather than recreation. Unlike the sit-down type, a stand-up PWC rarely seats more than one person.
Do I Need a License to Drive a Jet Ski in Texas?
According to the TPWD, Texas law requires anyone born after September 1, 1993, to have a boating license in order to operate a vessel over 15 horsepower, a windblown vessel over 14 feet or any kind of PWC. Anyone over the age of 13, including non-Texans, can take a boater safety course to earn a license. A Texas boating license is recognized throughout the entire United States as well as in Canada. Once you have your boating certification, you’ll be ready to enjoy hot summer days on the Gulf of Mexico—or anywhere else you choose to go!
How Do I Get My Texas Jet Ski License?
The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) has developed a set of content standards that every certified boating safety course must follow. TPWD administers the course, but it also certifies others to provide boating safety education. Any TPWD–certified organization can offer the exam as long as its course meets certain basic requirements. Once you have passed the exam, you’ll receive your Texas Boater Education Certificate (often referred to as a Texas boating license), which is proof that you’ve successfully completed all Texas-mandated boater education requirements.
Although you can go to a brick-and-mortar location to take the course, you also have the option to take the course and exam online. Taking the course online has several advantages, such as the lack of time limits and pressure to get it done quickly. You can take all day, working at your own pace, or complete the course in as little as a couple of hours.
While all certified bodies meet NASBLA’s minimum requirements, some educators go above and beyond. For example, ilearntoboat utilizes gamification, simulated situations and other features to enhance learning and make for a course that’s more fun and engaging.
What is the Age Requirement to Drive a Jet Ski in Texas?
If you’re interested in riding a jet ski in Texas, you’ll need to be familiar with the legal requirements associated with your age:
- A child under the age of 13 may operate a PWC only if he or she is accompanied on board by a person at least 18 years of age who is legally authorized to operate a PWC.
- Anyone born on or after September 1, 1993, (including minors who are at least 13 years of age) may operate a PWC without supervision only if he or she has passed a boater education course that is accepted by TPWD.
- Persons born before September 1, 1993, are not required to complete a boater safety education course to ride a PWC.
It’s worth noting that a minor under the age of 13 cannot operate a stand-up PWC because there’s no second seat to accommodate the legally mandated adult who must accompany them.
Do I Need Insurance for a Jet Ski in Texas?
Insurance isn’t required to operate a motorboat, a PWC or other powered water vessel in Texas. Even so, it’s still the smart choice. Many local insurance companies offer affordable PWC insurance with good coverage.
In case of theft, a crash or other loss associated with PWC ownership, your insurance will protect you and your wallet. Given that the rate of PWC–related accidents has risen steadily since the 1960s, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
But what about renting a PWC? In that case, the requirements are similar to those for renting a car. You don’t need to pay for insurance because that responsibility falls to the owner.
Make Learning Fun With ilearntoboat
Here at ilearntoboat, we take pride in offering a boater safety course that’s modern and interesting. Research shows instruction that engages the brain using both words and images can increase students’ ability to retain and understand the information. Our version of the course is interactive and features fun game elements, such as mini-games, real-life situations and role-playing simulations.
In addition, we understand that arbitrary stress and the risk of wasting your money don’t improve the learning process. We don’t use timers, so you’re free to learn at your own pace. If you start the course now, you might be boating by the end of the day.
Your boating license will empower you to enjoy your PWC on the beautiful lakes and coastal waters of Texas. It also will open up new horizons by allowing you to pilot other powered vessels or large, windblown watercraft legally. Once you pass the exam and earn your Texas boating license, you’ll be recognized as a licensed boater in all fifty states and Canada.
Get Your Texas Boating License and Get on the Water!
Millions of people all around the world share in the joy of boating, and ilearntoboat is ready to help you join them. Our interactive boater safety course will equip you with the knowledge you need to have fun safely on the water. We’ve helped many Texans earn their boating license, and we can’t wait to help you do the same. Start your Texas boater education off right—take our online course, and earn your certification today.