Types of Certifications Marine Surveyors Should have

Marine Surveyor Certifications: A Layperson’s Guide

Ahoy, readers! Marine surveyors play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and reliability of vessels and marine structures. To uphold high standards within the industry, the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) has established a certification system with three primary classes of memberships.

In this article, we will explore the different types of certifications that marine surveyors can obtain and the qualifications required for each.

As we set sail into the world of marine surveyors, let’s unravel the types of certifications offered by the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS ).

It is important to know the differences so you know the skill set of the person you are dealing with. This will be you trusty map to understanding the three primary classes of memberships and the qualifications that come with them.

1. Accredited Marine Surveyor (AMS):

Our first stop is the Accredited Marine Surveyor certification, the gold standard for seasoned surveyors. Here’s what it means for you:

  • Candidates must have a minimum of five years of surveying experience within the past ten years in the desired field of accreditation.
  • Up to three years of related marine experience may be credited towards the required five years, subject to approval by the membership committee or Board of Directors.
  • Applicants must commit to abide by the SAMS Code of Ethics, By-Laws, Standards, and official decisions.
  • A comprehensive application, resume, and a number of survey submissions are required for review by the Membership Committee.
  • Successful completion of a written exam in the chosen field of accreditation, administered by the Testing Committee.

Additionally, AMS holders must agree to participate in the SAMS program of continuing education.

2. Surveyor Associate (SA):

Next up, we have the Surveyor Associate, a stepping stone for those on the journey to becoming Accredited Marine Surveyors:

  • Applicants must be practicing marine surveyors working towards meeting the criteria for AMS certification.
  • A commitment to adhere to the SAMS Code of Ethics, By-Laws, Standards, and official decisions.
  • Submission of an application form, resume, and survey reports from each year of experience for review.
  • Agreement to participate in the SAMS program of continuing education.

3. Affiliate Member (AFF):

Our final destination is the Affiliate Member category, a port for businesses and individuals contributing to the marine industry.

The Affiliate Member category is not for practicing marine surveyors but is open to businesses or individuals providing products or services to the marine industry. Here are the key requirements:

  • Applicants must operate businesses or provide services related to the marine industry.
  • A pledge to abide by the SAMS Code of Ethics, By-Laws, Standards, and official decisions.
  • Practicing marine surveyors are not eligible for this category.


Did you know there are 700+ SAMS-Certified Marine Surveyors globally? 620 in the USA and 31 in Canada (with most in Ontario and BC).

Within the USA, a 28 percent majority are located in Florida (350 surveyors) followed by California (74), Maryland (72), Washington State (60), and New-york (56). All other states have less than fifty SAMS-certified surveyors.

Top 15 cities with most certified marine surveyors are:

CityCount of Certified Surveyors in City
Fort Lauderdale22+
San Diego16
St. Augustine16
St. Petersburg12
Long Beach10
Table: Number of Certified Surveyors in Top 15 cities in the USA

Extra Specializations

Within the world of Accredited Marine Surveyors (AMS), professionals can chart their own course by specializing in specific areas of expertise. These designations add a personal touch to their journey. Let’s breeze through the key specializations:

  1. Y&SC – Yachts and Small Craft:
    • Ideal for those with five years of experience in surveying yachts and small commercial vessels. Requires a passing grade on the SAMS Yachts and Small Craft examination.
  2. H&M – Hull and Machinery:
    • Geared towards AMS members actively surveying commercial vessels exceeding 200 Gross Domestic Tons. Requires success in the SAMS Hull and Machinery examination, with considerations for specific licenses.
  3. C – Cargo:
    • Tailored for those actively involved in cargo-related surveys on merchant vessels. Success in the SAMS Cargo examination is the entry point.
  4. E – Engines (Gasoline and Diesel):
    • For AMS members with five years of experience in surveying gas or diesel marine engines. Requires a passing grade on the SAMS Gas Engine or Diesel Engine examination.
  5. FV – Fishing Vessel:
    • Tailored for those actively surveying commercial fishing vessels for at least five years. Success in the SAMS Fishing Vessel examination marks specialization.
  6. T & B – Tug & Barge:
    • For AMS members deeply engaged in surveys of tugs, barges, and tows for over five years. Success in the SAMS Tug and Barge examination indicates specialization.
  7. CW – Commercial Workboat:
    • Designed for those actively surveying inspected or uninspected commercial workboats below 1600 GT. Success in the SAMS Commercial Workboats examination is the gateway to this specialization.

Remember, these specializations offer a glimpse into the diverse experiences of AMS members. They act as guides for those seeking a SAMS surveyor, showcasing expertise without certifying individual competence. Whether sailing through yacht inspections, cargo surveys, or engine examinations, AMS members bring specialized knowledge to ensure smooth sailing in their respective domains.

Other Certifications


#Surveyor #Certifications

In summary, the SAMS certification system offers three distinct classes to accommodate various levels of experience and involvement in the marine industry. Whether aspiring to become an Accredited Marine Surveyor, working towards meeting the criteria, or providing valuable services to the industry, SAMS certifications ensure a commitment to high standards and continued education within the field of marine surveying.

As we conclude our nautical journey through SAMS certifications, remember that each class serves a unique purpose in the vast sea of marine surveying. Whether you’re an experienced captain, a first mate in training, or a valuable contributor to the industry, SAMS certifications are your compass to professionalism and ongoing education. So, shipmates, may your sails be full, your compass steady, and your certification journey smooth sailing!

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