Career Zone: Work On A Super-yacht

In this series, we’re looking at your career options to help you make the right decision when it comes to choosing a career.  In this weeks career review, working on a SuperYacht.  What’s it really like and how do you get a job working on a super-yacht.  If you’ve missed any of previous career option guides, you can find them all here.

Super-Yachts

Have you ever wanted to work abroad in the sun or by the sea? Working on a super yacht, travelling the world could be the job for you.  Whilst there’re many upsides to working on a yacht, there are a few downsides as well.

What’s it like to work on a super yacht? I asked an old school friend who currently works on a Sunseeker 130 based in the Med. We met up last week to catch up on old times and find out what working on a super yacht is really like. Of everything, i also wanted to know how to find job working on a super yacht.

What is it Like?

Working on a super yacht is great fun, although it’s probably a lot like any other job.  There are advantages and some serious challenges that you can face. The ocean is a big place and when things go wrong, they tend to go very wrong, very quickly.

The good news, every day is different and no two days are alike.

Advantages

80% of your working life is spent next to a beach working in the sun.  Everything you earn is tax free and with the majority paid for, it’s very easy to save money. Overall the work is enjoyable and you can get a sense of pride when the job is done.

Disadvantages

Working as a crew member can be exhausting, 18 hours days are not uncommon especially when you’ve got guests to entertain until the early hours of the morning and still be up to serve breakfast early in the morning.

The boat is cleaned at least once a week from Top to Bottom.  When you’re not cleaning or entertaining chasing the sun and warm water means there’s a lot of ocean crossings each year which can be long and boring.

Requirements

You need to be over 18 years old, do not have piercing or tattoos and be a non-smoker. Boats from the middle east will also have no-alcohol polices. You also need to have your STCW95 safety certificate completed which is the most basic qualification that you need to work on a yacht.

Seasons

Typically there are two seasons. The Med (Mediterranean) runs from May to October with the major ports being Antibes in southern France and Palma in Majorca. The second season is the Caribbean season which runs from October to May with the key port being Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

Yachts

There are two types of Yachts that you can be employed on, Motor Yachts and Sailing Yachts. You will tend to earn more working on a Motor Yacht as they charter more, travel for longer, have larger staff and will genuinely be working in a more formal atmosphere.

Positions

Deckhand: This is typically the most junior position on the yacht and reserved for those with little or no experience.  Your responsibilities will typically include boat maintenance, deck cleaning or driving a tender to ferry VIP guests to and from the yacht. No two days are ever alike for a deckhand.

Steward (or Stewardess): This is typically another entry level role however rather than working outside, your job is to work inside the yacht. This means that your responsibilities could be anything from serving drinks, providing recreational activities, making beds and cleaning the interior or anything else that is tied with keeping the boat’s passengers stay happy the entire trip.

Chef: The yacht’s chef is responsible for preparing meals both in port and whilst crossing oceans. The chef will be responsible for keeping the kitchen clean, well arrange, and purchasing and stocking food with enough variety and quantity to last for the trip.

Boat Engineer: The boat engineer is responsible for making sure that all engines are working and will repair any problems that are faced. This could be with the main engines, however it could also be for the washing machine or dishwasher.

First Mate: Most luxury yachts will have a first mate and a captain. The first mate is the captain’s right-hand man (or woman), and will generally be responsible for day-to-day management of the crew. First mates need to be able to do everything and be ready to take over when needed.

Captain: The Captain is responsible for the yacht and the safety of the entire crew. Training to be captain it requires years of experience, however most captains started their careers as a deckhand.  If you work hard it’s possible to start at the bottom and work your way through to the top.

Salary

Salary’s will generally start at about €1,800 (£1,200) per month for a standard entry level deckhand, whilst an experienced stewardess can be on €2,800 (£1,865) and upwards.  Given their responsibility, captain’s can easily earn €30,000 (£20,000) per month.

Crew will also get a bonus if their yacht is chartered. Typical tips of 10% of the charter prices are split between the crew therefore if the boat rents for €75,000 per week (£50,000), a €7,500 (£5,000) tip would be split between the crew.

Most yachts today provide health and accident insurance, food, uniforms, basic toiletries and other on board expenses such as laundry, however personal items are not included.

Qualifications

Before you start thinking of applying for a job, you need to get the most basic yachting qualification completed which is the STCW95 which stands for: Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.

Each crew member must take a set of 4 basic courses that cover the essential areas of Sea Survival. The courses includes the following courses:

  • STCW 95 Personal Survival Techniques
  • STCW 95 Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention
  • STCW 95 Elementary First Aid
  • STCW 95 Personal Safety and Social Responsibility

The STCW 95 standards were set up by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) which has the force of law in all 154 signatory countries. The STCW95 is actually very easy to complete and usually takes a simple 5 days course with a small test at the end. In the UK you can go to the UKSA who run courses most weeks.

It’s very important that you hold this internationally recognised certificate and your certifications show both your commitment to your job in the super yacht industry and will help you to be promoted quickly in a shorter period of time. You will also skip straight to the front of the queue when its comes to interviewing.

Steward or Stewardess

If you’re interested in becoming a Steward/Stewardess, you will need to get some specific training to separate yourself from the crowd.  It’s looked upon very favorably by yacht captains when it comes to interviewing if you have this specialist training.

The role of Steward/Stewardess is a lot harder that just serving food and drinks and clearing up after guest, it’s about making sure your guests have the time of their lives and you’re able predict what a guest will want before they have asked for it. A great example of a course that you could take is the IYT World Wide Certificate for professional SuperYacht Interior Crew

Engineer

Becoming an engineer is actually quite easy as you do not need to have any other qualifications other that your STCW95 to get an entry level assistant engineer role. To progress further and become a Chief Engineer you will to get your MCA Engineering Officer Certificate, given that you will be required to fixed anything and everything from the main engines to jet ski’s or televisions, the training is very broad and will cover subjects such as marine diesel engines, auxiliary equipment, ship construction, marine engineering and general maintenance.

Extra Courses For A Deck-Hand

Deck-hands will generally be responsible for the exterior of the yacht.  Apart from your standard STCW95 which you will need, it’s also a great idea to have additional skills or qualifications that will give you an edge over the competition.

The list is endless however typically includes sailing instructors, jet ski instructors, diving instructors, fishing instructor and masseuses.

How long will it Take Me to Find a Job

How long is a piece of string? Getting your perfect job really depends on your experience, qualifications and how long you spend search for a job. Super-yachts tend not to operate on a rotational schedule such as 6 weeks on and then 6 weeks off and are usually employed for a season. Given that jobs can come up in any part of the world, finding a great job is also about luck and being in the right place at the right time, however you can increase your chance of getting a job by reading this article.

How To Get A Job On A Super Yacht

Getting a job on a super yacht used to be very easy given the shortage of people that want to spend their life on the ocean.  Pre-crisis you could put a CV on the main super yacht websites and as long as you had a good background, do not have piercings or tattoos, someone would take you on board. I have heard stories of people being flown from the UK to the South of France for an interview.

These days it’s a little more difficult however not impossible. There are four basic approaches to getting your first job working on a Super Yacht. All three take a little more effort than putting your CV on a website and waiting for the phone to ring.

Walk the Docks

Walking the docks is a very good way to find a boat and its very common in the large ports to see plenty of crew walking up and down the docks speaking to everyone form the most junior crew to the Captains and First Mates. It lets people get to know your face-to-face and lets you show them that you “want a job”.

Recruitment Agencies

Recruitment Agencies and Job boards are very common is every major ports both in Europe and the USA. All companies use recruitment companies and its the same for Yachts. Very specific candidates for specific jobs such as Helicopter Pilots or Gas Turbine engine engineers are hard to find and thus yachts will use recruitment companies to find candidates. It’s important that you treat a Yacht recruiter like every recruiter and email them your CV and follow this up with a phone call. Assuming they like what they see on your CV they will give you advice on any crew openings that come up.

Networking

Networking is very important in all industries and it’s no different in the yachting industry. Try to hang out in the yachting bars or restaurants where crew meet up in their off working hours. Generally crew that are not working will be much more relaxed and give you more time and advice than when they are working. It’s best not to be too pushy and try to actually make friends with people as they are far more likely to help you if they like you.

Temporary Work

Temporary work is a great way to get on a job as long as you work hard and get both a good reputation and a reference. Like with any jobs, if you can provide a good reference to an employer, you are more likely to get a job. To get a day work you will need to walk the docks early in the morning ideally between 6am and 8am as its a first come, first serve job. Day work will typically be available when a boat with few crew aboard either have a major task such as cleaning or a large party of guest where extra help is needed for the day.

The quickest way to find a role on a Super-Yacht is to combine all three of these approaches at the same time. The morning is always a good time to go dock-walking or try to get some day work, then pop into an agency for a chat with the recruiters and in the evenings hit the bars and restaurants.

Final Thoughts

If you think that working on a super yacht revolves around beaches, parties and sun-bathing, you’re likely going to be in for a shock.  That said, if you’re happy to accept that you’re going to be working hard, but will also have the time off to see the world, working on a super yacht, could be a great opportunity for you.  As always, any questions i am happy to answer them.

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Nick Jones

My name Nick Jones, I am a professional Head-Hunter with over 20 years of experience working all over the world. I specialise in out-of-the-box job search strategies to get your CV directly to the hiring manager, thus skipping any ATS portals or recruiters who think they're important.

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