Lisa the Boatanista: I am asked this question all the time. The answer varies by location. So, be sure to check with the specific requirements in your state, which normally means looking up the local Department of Motor Vehicles.
Locally, in Jacksonville, Fla., if you were born on Jan. 1, 1988, or after, you must have a boater education license to operate any vessel more than 10 horse power. http://www.boat-ed.com/florida/
Even if your state does not have a license requirement, which most do not, it’s smart to take a boater’s safety course, which can save you money on your boater’s insurance. Once you take the course and you pass it, make sure you let your insurance company know. You may find that you save 10 to 15 percent of your boater’s insurance.
If you join a Freedom Boat Club you will go through their training, and that will certify you to operate a boat.