How to Get a Job on a Private Yacht


luxury yacht

What is a private yacht, and how does it differ from other yachts? How do I land one of these elusive jobs on a private yacht? One that pays well and goes to the most beautiful locations? What experience do I need and are formal qualifications required?

These are just a few of the questions you might be asking if the option of working on luxury yachts has crossed your path. Yachties get these (and more) questions asked all the time on their return from their latest jobs from friends and family – especially if they had posted one or two amazing photos (perched in beautiful turquoise waters) of their time working on board!

A career on board luxury, private and superyachts can be extremely rewarding, and we all need to get started somewhere. This is the guide that will help you attain that dream!

Private Yachts vs Luxury Yachts vs Superyachts

The main differentiation between luxury yachts is size. Private yachts, that are not regular sailing yachts (crewed by less than 6), are typically fancy, luxury yachts, but not all luxury yachts are superyachts. A superyacht is typically a large luxury yacht of over 24 metres in length that can be powered by motor or sail. Superyacht ownership is usually reserved for the ultra wealthy.

A superyacht will almost always require an experienced captain (and crew) to take it out on the water. Superyachts are often available for charter with a staff that caters to guests at a high standard of comfort. They may be designed to emphasize comfort, speed, or expedition capability.

Getting a Job on a Private, Luxury Yacht 

The yachting industry is inundated with people that would like to crew. Typically Captains work with crew that impressed them previously, so making a great first impression (and continuing to do so) is critical if you want to continue working in the industry. But, sometimes crew take leave from work, leave the industry or are on rotation. Or perhaps the Captain is merely looking for a different type of, or new blood in some of the crew positions. This is your chance to shine and get your first job on a luxury yacht!

One can’t just apply to work on a yacht. There are certain baseline qualifications you need, and some job experience that will come in handy when your yacht CV is amongst a pile of new applicants and you have to stand-out just to land the interview!

Experience & Qualifications

If you’ve never crewed a yacht before, there are some land based jobs that can help you stand out from the other applicants. 

But all applicants need basic skills and qualifications including: two items that are compulsory. Any person working on boats must hold an up-to-date seafarer medical certificate, and must have completed the STCW (Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers).  

  1. ENG1  – is a medical examination set by the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) to assess whether individuals are fit to work on a seagoing vessel and perform duties at sea. You can typically obtain the certificate from MCA Approved Doctor (AD) and this certificate is also mandatory before you’re allowed to complete your STCW course.

  2. STCW 2010 – The STCW 2010 is a compulsory requirement for any seafarer in order to be eligible for employment at sea. Course modules include Marine Fire Fighting, Sea Survival, Elementary First Aid, Personal Safety, Social Responsibilities and Competence in Security Awareness. Typical duration of the course is 10 days and costs around R6,500.

Have more questions? Be sure to get our ultimate yacht crew guide handbook that explains everything in detail!

How to Get a Job on a Private Yacht

DOWNLOAD OUR E-BOOK

The Get Onboard Luxury Yacht Deck Handbook & Crew Training Guide has been specifically created for those starting out in the yachting industry. In this e-book you will get all the information you need on how to land your first job, visa requirements, how to get qualified, CV tips and downloadable templates right through to a checklist for packing your bags. We know how overwhelming this can be and, so that’s why we’re here to help you Get Onboard with our insiders guide to get thatyacht job.

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FAQ

There are two basic yacht training requirements that you need to complete in order the legally be eligible to work at sea. This includes the STCW’10 basic training course the ENG 1 medical the Proficiency in Designated Security Duties. These are compulsory courses and must be completed no matter which job or position you are applying for.

STCW stands for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping. The STCW’2010, previously referred to as STCW’95, is a compulsory requirement for any seafarer in order to be eligible for employment at sea. The STCW 2010 has replaced STCW 95 and is the new code that all seafarers working on board commercial vessels must adhere to. If you are planning on joining the superyacht industry to look for a yacht job as a stewardess, deckhand, engineer or chef, you will need to complete this STCW course. The course runs every week from our academy in Cape Town and takes 11 days to complete.

The ENG1 Medical is a basic medical certificate and is as essential as your STCW’10. It is a mandatory requirement to prove you are fit to work as a yacht crew member at sea. Only MCA-approved doctors can perform an ENG 1 medical exam. The exam takes around 1 hour to complete, and should you pass you will leave with your certificate immediately. Our facilities enable you to complete your ENG1 medical at the same premises as your STCW’10 for your ultimate convenience.

The yachting industry is predominantly a career focused on hospitality. While various skill sets may assist you in finding a job, they are not enough to fully prepare you for a job on board. You will still need to complete the correct Maritime Training to be fully equipped for a job as a Super Yacht Crew member. The following skills/ experience are beneficial:
– Hospitality training, including waiters, bar tenders, event staff, hotel training, cruise liners
– Au pair, nanny and child care, tutoring, child entertainment
– Beauty therapists: nail technicians, hairstylists, beauty therapists
– Trade skills including: carpentry, varnishing, building, plumbing, tiling, engineering
– Watersports: scuba diving, wakeboarding, sailboarding, waterskiing
– For Chefs: A natural ability and training/experience as a Restaurant, Estate, Hotel Chef
– Personality traits: Social skills, cultured, good work ethic, good manners, well presented, self— confident, a positive attitude.

There are usually four departments onboard a super yacht including the deck department, engineering, interior and galley.

Completing your deckhand courses prior to looking for your first job, demonstrates to your employers that you are dedicated crew member that understands what is required in order to be successful as an entry level crew member in the super yacht industry. Our industry leading standard of training ensures all our candidates enter the super yacht industry. The primary duties of a deckhand are shared between the maintenance of the yacht exterior and looking after the guests. Maintenance tasks include painting, filling and fairing as well as 1- and 2-part varnishing jobs, plus all other cleaning, polishing and scrubbing duties. Guest related tasks vary from tender driving, beach set ups, water sports, jet skis, anchoring or manoeuvring of the yacht. In addition the STCW training course, any of the following courses would be considered advantageous:

– Yachtmaster/Coastal Skipper Theory
– Yachtmaster/Coastal Practical
– Specialist Super Yacht Training Course (Deck Hand Training Course)
– RYA Power Boat Level II
– RYA Personal Watercraft Course
– RYA Competent Crew Certificate
– RYA Day Skipper Theory and Practical Certificates
– RYA Radar
– VHF Radio Operator’s License

The primary task of a Steward or Stewardess onboard is to maintain the interior or the luxury yacht to the highest standard. You will also be required to cater to the needs of yacht owners or charter guests. Service, housekeeping and laundry form the three main departments of the stewardess responsibilities. Food hygiene and safe food preparation are also a major component of working as a stewardess on a super yacht. Our stewardess training certification is run in Cape Town, South Africa. This is an entry level training course, designed for any crew member that is looking to pursue a career as as stewardess. Combining both practical and theoretical course modules, you will spend time working with actual products used onboard as well as familiarise yourself with processes for when guests are onboard. In addition the STCW training course, any of the following courses would be considered advantageous:

– Stewardess Course
– ENG1
– Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD)
– MCA Food Safety Level 2
– RYA Powerboat Level 2

Simple. Just email info@get-onboard.com explaining which course you are interested in. We will provide you with a list of available dates and our booking form. Simply return to us with your proof of payment and you place of the course is reserved.

Once you are qualified, what are the next steps to finding your first job onboard? Yacht CV’s are very different to landbased CV’s and are essential when looking for a job on a yacht. Read more about our yachting CV tips here 

Our courses have been created in order to best prepare our students with the correct qualification, and industry specific knowledge that would be expected of junior crew in the yachting industry. The founders of Get Onboard superyacht Academy spent over 12 years as a senior ranked crew members and so offer our candidates with the most up to date information to best prepare you for the industry. Without your STCW and ENG1 you are not legally able to work at sea, so until you have completed those requirements, finding employment will be impossible. While the other courses are not compulsory, as industry experts we feel it is in our students best interest to educate themselves as much as possible before entering the super yacht industry. We do our best to offer our students the best possible advice on courses that would be most beneficial to their career goals as well as their pockets.

Here at Get Onboard Superyacht Academy, we pride ourselves on offering our students practical and honest advice. That’s why you will never find us trying to sell your courses that won’t be specifically relevant to your department. Landing your first job while you are still in South Africa is almost impossible. The reason for this is because just like you would interview for a land based position face to face.

Day work is a great way of networking, building contacts in the industry, and most importantly finding you first super yacht job. Day work refers to when you do not have a formal contract in place with a yacht, but you help out onboard for anything from a day to several weeks. Day working is a great way for you to get a sense of different roles onboard and whether the industry is right for you. Often the Captain or senior crew member will use day work as a trial or “audition” to see who is the best fit for the crew and is the most efficient worker so it is an excellent tool to use when searching for your first job.

There are two main yachting hubs, the Mediterranean, particularly Antibes in France or Palma de Mallorca in Spain, and Fort Lauderdale or Miami in Florida. We explain the different seasons and best time of year to visit each areas in our article Best Locations To Get a Yacht Job for Time of Year.

The standard entry level salary for a junior stewardess or deckhand ranges between €2000-€2500 or $2300-$2800 per month. This amount is generally tax free, although the onus is on each crew member to check with their home county about tax obligations. Certain countries are tax exempt provided you spend more than 6 months out of the county. Check out our dedicated article on this here. We have covered all of this and much much more in our easily downloadable yachting industry guide eBook. We go into detail of where you should start your career and at which time of year. We offer yachting CV templates, a packing list, course list, accommodation and visa information. We break down the various yacht crew departments so that you can see where might be the best fit for you. We explain what dock walking is, how to get day work, salary expectations and most importantly how to secure that first job.

Working on a yacht is not all fun and games; it means spending great lengths of time away from friends and family, putting in extra-long hours as needed and living in a shared, confined space.

For many, the benefits of a yacht job outweigh the negatives. These include travelling the world, the opportunity to make and save a lot of money, making new friends for life and gaining important skills that will transfer over to many other industries.

Yachting is for anyone who loves to go out of their way to please. However, it is open to all sorts of personalities – every boat is different. Take a look at our page on what makes a great superyacht crew for more information.

The minimum age to work on a yacht is 18 years old. While there is a chance of finding work straight after school, we suggest getting some work experience before departing South Africa.

Get Onboard has partnered with some centrally located accommodation providers as well as premium backpackers. If you require accommodation for the duration of your training, just be sure to mention it in an email and we will forward the options.