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Marine Foundations - Small Vessel Operator Proficiency

A small red fishing boat sails along the coastline.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
3 Weeks
Certificate of Completion

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This 100-hour program offers you the skills needed to safely operate small commercial vessels in near-coastal (class 2) and sheltered waters, as defined by Transport Canada. As part of this program you attain SVOP, MED-DVS, MBFA, and ROC-MC certifications.

In class, you learn to:

  • Identify how the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Nova Scotia and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System regulations apply within a marine environment
  • Communicate using the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, an internationally agreed-upon set of safety procedures, equipment, and communication protocols used to increase safety
  • Operate a small, non-pleasure vessel in near-coastal and sheltered waters under normal operating conditions, including darkness and restricted visibility
  • Provide basic first aid

Choose NSCC

  • For more detailed information specific to the marine industry, visit Careers at Sea.

Other info

  • This program is part of the A'paqt (Oceans): Building Bridges for Women and Indigenous Peoples in Marine Training project. It aims to improve access to and awareness of marine training and employment opportunities for women and Indigenous peoples.

2022-23 programs

Program delivery may be subject to change based on Public Health guidelines.

September 2021

Campus Location Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Strait Area Campus Classes at Nautical Institute Full time In-class In-classDelivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements. Seats available

Admission requirements

There are no admissions requirements for this program.

Program requirements

  • You must be 18 years of age or older prior to completion of the program.
  • A valid marine medical certificate is required prior to completion of the program.


2022-23 tuition will be announced in the late Spring once approved by the government of Nova Scotia. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional. Amounts below were for the 2021-22 academic year.

Tuition (Domestic):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for college services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Funding available for women and Indigenous peoples
To help meet the marine industry demand and diversify the workforce, the federal government is providing $2.5 million in bursaries for women and Indigenous peoples.

  • As a woman or Indigenous person, you may qualify to have 90% of your costs covered by a bursary for your education. View funding details
  • As an Indigenous person, you are automatically considered for additional funds (up to $300 per week) to help with living expenses while enrolled in nautical courses.

Career options

  • Graduates who have attained the Small Vessel Operator Proficiency certificate operate small commercial vessels. They also work for marine companies, cable ferry operators and port authorities. Some grads may choose to be self-employed.

Future study options

  • Graduates are prepared to continue studying at NSCC's Nautical Institute.

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you can apply to earn credit. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

MEDC 1811 – Marine Basic First Aid
This course provides learners with the knowledge and skills necessary to recognize an emergency, provide appropriate first aid at the scene, notify emergency medical services and promote a safety oriented life style for the prevention of accidents. This course meets the requirements for first aid training as set out by Transport Canada and Workplace Occupational Health and Safety.

MARI 7180 – MED DVS (Domestic Vessel Safety)
This course is designed to provide first time seafarers with the minimum knowledge of emergency response required to safely work aboard a vessel; to determine the hazards associated with the marine environment and their own vessel, and of how to prevent shipboard incidents including fire. To apply you must be at least 15 years of age and hold a valid Transport Canada Seafarer's Medical.

MARI 7019 – Restricted Operators Certificate – Maritime Commercial (ROC-MC)
This Industry Canada approved course will enable radio station personnel to efficiently utilize aspects of the GMDSS communications systems applicable to Sea Area 1 operations. This course adheres to the fundamental recommendations for training of maritime radio personnel as outlined in the Industry Canada RIC-25. Upon successful completion of this course, ROC-MC Certificates will be issued. You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for this course.

MARI 7129 – Small Vessel Operator Proficiency
This course meets the requirements of a stand-alone course that addresses the particular need for minimum training of operators of commercial vessels, other than tugs, and fishing vessels up to 15 gross tonnage or 12 meters overall length engage on a near coastal, class 2 (including an inland voyage on Lake Superior or Lake Huron) or a sheltered waters voyage.

SAFE 1000 – Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners a basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 – Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

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