Yacht Crew Careers Advice

At wilsonhalligan we actively encourage new crew into the yachting industry, for their own benefit and for the continued progression of the yacht world in general.

We assist prospective candidates who have little or no previous seagoing experience, but have a desire to become crew members on yachts in the future. Take a look at the questions below to learn more about the industry.

If your question isn’t answered, send us your question and we’ll be more than happy to help!

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wilsonhalligan do not place individuals with our client’s yachts, who are less than 18 years of age.

Since the numbers of enquiries we receive are increasing rapidly, we are now unable to respond to all of them directly. However, we have compiled the following information for those serious about taking up a career in yachting.

The large yacht clients of wilsonhalligan require well trained and qualified, professional crews, usually having previous yachting experience supported by the necessary references to support this; and this should be the goal of all new candidates whom we believe should look on yachting as a career rather than just a job.  For those new to the industry, relevant experience is always looked highly upon, and above all, having the right attitude is sought after by both us and our clients.

Before embarking on a career on yachts, it is worth considering how you can gain relevant experience ashore – for example, by working in hospitality, or in and around marinas or small boats.  Initial training can be undertaken alongside this, for example for Deckhands, there are many useful courses offered by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), enabling a level of competence to be demonstrated to future employers.

Many crew in the past have found their first break into yachting by dayworking, which often arises from dockwalking in one of the yachting hubs, like Antibes, South of France.  Daywork can offer you an excellent insight into what the working life will be like on a yacht, and obtaining good references for this short term work, can help you tremendously when applying for permanent positions.

In almost all cases it is the Captain of a large yacht who has the final say in who is recruited. From time to time, for an exceptional candidate, he/she may consider offering a junior position to an inexperienced candidate. However, in all cases as a minimum, candidates will require to have the appropriate training for the position sought, and to have completed the appropriate STCW courses.

The following websites are provided to assist to provide additional information and the appropriate training courses:

Maritime and Coastguard Agency – www.mcga.gov.uk

Uk Sailiing Association – www.uksa.org

Royal Yacht Association – www.rya.org.uk

Hoylake Sailing School – www.hss.ac.uk

Plymouth Sailing School – www.plymsail.co.uk

Warsash Superyacht Academy – www.warsashsuperyachtacademy.com

It is worth considering that yacht jobs will be paid predominately in either Euros or US Dollars. If you are transferring your salary back to the UK or to your domestic currency, you may wish to talk to a financial advisor, as this could result in considerable savings. wilsonhalligan cannot offer financial advise, an example of a UK based financial advisor is:

Reedman Wealth Management: https://www.reedmanwm.co.uk/

Whilst many yachts provide medical insurance, where these are not available or do not cover your individual needs sufficiently, you may wish to consider alternative or additional insurance, to cover life, disability, accident and sickness, in the event, however unlikely it is that this may occur. 

A large yacht is generally considered to be a vessel that has a waterline length (between perpendiculars) of over 24 metres and is operated either as a private or commercial (charter) vessel. However, today a vessel of this size would be considered to be quite modest, given the ever-increasing trend for superyachts. There are numerous superyachts in excess of 100 metres, and currently three over a whopping 160 metres! The demand for these amazing yachts has meant a rise in the requests for officers and crew who can work to the highest levels in demanding environments.

So what are owners and captains looking for in their crew?  The reality is that working on large yachts requires:

  • The highest standards of ability and professionalism
  • The utmost discretion
  • Thought and consideration in a close knit team environment
  • A flexible attitude to work
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Boundless energy and enthusiasm!

Depending upon your nationality and location, salaries are usually tax exempt, travel and wages during periods of agreed leave are paid and food and accommodation are, of course, provided. All of this, alongside a challenging but often fun ‘work hard / play hard’ regime, and a lifestyle that is truly and dramatically different from the usual work routine make jobs on yachts extremely sought-after!

Getting your Yacht Career Started: Knowledge  Experience

wilsonhalligan clients with large yachts require professional well trained and qualified crews, usually with at least a few years’ experience supported by testimonials. So gaining these qualifications and testimonials should be the goal of all new candidates looking at yachting as a career rather than just a job.

However, in order to start out, consider developing your work experience and professional courses prior to yachting, as discussed in the question above.

Once you are ready, you will need to obtain the STCW basic safety certificate.  This is required for all crew members and comprises of a five day course which covers basic fire-fighting, sea survival, personal safety and social responsibility, elementary first aid & proficiency in security awareness.

Ensure that your training company is IMO recognised and remember that additional courses may also be required depending on your preferred on-board position. There are an increasing number of yachts of over 3000gt, which require full commercial Merchant Navy certification for all deck and engineering officers.

Why not take a look at training provided by these organisations?

Warsash Superyacht Academy – www.warsashsuperyachtacademy.com

Maritime and Coastguard Agency – www.mcga.gov.uk
UK Sailing Association – www.uksa.org
Royal Yacht Association – www.rya.org.uk
Hoylake Sailing School – www.hss.ac.uk
Plymouth Sailing School – www.plymsail.co.uk

It is also a requirement to comply with minimum standards of medical health and this is proven in the form of an ENG1 medical certificate (or recognised equivalent from other countries). You get these from doctors approved by the governing maritime administration. In the UK, this is the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

With these necessary documents in hand, we would recommend heading to Antibes or Palma to try dockwalking and dayworking.  At the same time, ensure that you sign up to a few agencies (like ours!), and keep them up to date with your whereabouts & experiences gained.

Competition to get into the industry is fierce at the moment – be sure to make a good first impression, and show willingness and enthusiasm.  Any extra skills will also give you an edge in the marketplace – more and more yachts are asking for specialist crew like Carpenters, Divers, Beauticians and Nurses.  Be sure to put it on your CV if you have any such skills.

What are the pay and benefits in yacht careers?

Working arrangements vary between yachts (charter yachts tend to be busier than private yachts), but almost without exception, they provide excellent salaries, ever-improving leave and conditions of service incorporating many ‘fringe’ benefits. Depending upon your nationality and location, salaries are usually tax exempt, travel and wages during periods of agreed leave are paid and food and accommodation are, of course, provided.

It is worth remembering however that working within the yachting industry is not for the faint hearted! Expect to be working long hours, away from home for months at a time, and living in close quarters with others during busy and stressful times.

Finding a yacht job takes hard work and persistence. There is a lot of competition in the ever growing industry. It is advisable to register your CV with more than one recruitment agency, although be careful to not lose track of your CV – it can be pretty embarrassing when a Captain calls you to speak about a position that you had no idea you were being put forward for! It is also useful to fly out and start dock walking, handing out CV’s in person and securing some day-work, it is important to do some research to where you want to go (SOF, Antibes?), when? (March time for Europe, November for winter season destinations) and be organised! Look into Crew Houses, which docks you can walk etc. wilsonhalligan are always happy to help and offer advice to anyone wanting to break into the industry and/or secure a new yacht job.

To become crew on a yacht or superyacht you must have passed the STCW10 and ENG1 qualification for safety onboard. This is the bare minimum that is required but there are plenty of other qualifications and skills that will help you to progress in the yachting industry. During the Winter Seasons, you will find that more and more yachts require B1B2 VISA’s. Please contact your Local Embassy for more information.

When applying to become crew on a yacht you will start at the entry level role of deckhand. You do not need a sailing qualification for this role but having one will make you favourable over other candidates. As mentioned above the minimum qualifications needed to get started are the STCW10 and ENG1 basic safety training but there are many other qualifications and skills that a successful deckhand should be equipped with:

  • MCA Efficient Deckhand (EDH)
  • Deck / Yacht Rating
  • VHF Radio
  • RYA Radar
  • RYA Competent Crew
  • MCA Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD)
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2
  • RYA Tender Operator
  • PWC Personal Watercraft Proficiency
  • General GRP and carpentry repairs

When you are starting out in the industry you will need to go ‘Dockwalking’ which is exactly what you think it is; walking the docks in order to enquire about jobs and hand out CV’s. This can be daunting but it is best to start by checking the marine traffic and searching by location. Have a look at where the bulk of traffic is docked which will usually be a marina or shipyards but traffic can also be docked in residential areas. Try to dock walk the top 3 largest marinas and one shipyard, residential area or smaller marina to start with.

The first thing you need to do is know what it is you want to do and then research, research, research. Find out about the company you want to work for and the recruitment agencies that find the staff for those companies. Cruise ship companies tend to use recruitment agencies to select and vet possible candidates for their jobs so look into as many companies as you can.

wilsonhalligan are always happy to help you make sure your CV is portraying you in the best light possible! Get in touch with us today if you have any questions about your current CV.

In the past, there have been positions for partners to work together aboard superyachts although this is normally an opportunity for more senior partners and are still quite uncommon in this industry. As an entry-level role, it is unlikely that it will be possible to find a role with your partner.

Salaries as a crew member can vary a lot and across the industry. Many factors can determine the salary such as your level of skills and experience, the position that you take on board and the size/type of yacht. As an entry-level position with few additional qualifications, a deckhand may expect a salary of between £1,000 and £2,200 per month.

You may have many skills that you didn’t realise are valuable for your super yacht CV. Depending on the role and department you wish to work in you could use skills such as; bartending, catering, cleaning and hospitality skills for stews and stewardesses. Deck drew would value a background in boats and water sports and an officer role would benefit from team and project management skills.

Take a look at some of our Yacht Crew Careers Advice related blogs:

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