The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) incorporated in 1954 to develop industry-based safety standards for recreational boats. Those standards encompass nearly every system aboard and have become the benchmark of best industry practices for boatbuilders, contractors and surveyors. While most are not law, only recommendations, ABYC standards are often cited in litigation.
ABYC certifies individuals in eight areas of boat systems, ranging from engine and drivetrain installations to air conditioning. Most who hold electrical certification have been working in the field for at least five years. They’re well grounded in electrical theory and troubleshooting techniques, and thoroughly understand ABYC standards.
The National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) formed in 1957 to promote relationships among marine electronics dealers, electronics manufacturers, the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard. NMEA is probably best known for equipment intercommunication protocols. The quarter-century-old NMEA 0183 protocol still in use today ensures brand X GPS will communicate with brand Y radar and brand Z autopilot. More recent and much more sophisticated NMEA 2000 goes far beyond, incorporating electronic engines, controls and steering, touchscreen control of ships’ power distribution, and similar applications that NMEA 0183 simply can’t or shouldn’t handle.
NMEA offers training and certifies technicians to three levels. Marine electronics installers (MEI) know only the basics. Advanced marine electronics installers (AMEI) understand networking and interfacing and handle the bulk of the actual equipment connections. Certified marine electronics technicians (CMET) are well grounded in electronics theory. They’ve typically been in the industry for a decade or more and are licensed to work on equipment by the FCC. They can troubleshoot and repair electronics right down to individual circuit boards within equipment.
Certified dealers must have at least one CMET on staff. To become a master dealer, all onboard technicians must hold at least the basic MEI certification, and they must maintain a ratio of MEI-, AMEI- and CMET-certified personnel appropriate for the company’s size.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) came about in 1979 as a trade organization of boatbuilders and manufacturers. Among its efforts, NMMA focuses on increasing boating safety and customer satisfaction by certifying that equipment and new boats meet NMMA standards and practices, although these are largely based on U.S. Coast Guard and ABYC requirements.