Common Questions and Answers to Those Interested in Professional Yachtmaster Training and a Career in Yachting

Everyone was a beginner once and being inexperienced is no disgrace. Just don’t try to hide it because employers need to know what they are dealing with.

Experience can’t be bought and the “zero to hero” fast track courses which try to mask a lack of relevant experience are a waste of time and money.

Indeed, some employers prefer inexperienced people because they don’t bring bad habits with them.

You need basic training in safety (STCW) and the broad skills (IYT SuperYacht Crew / IYT Professional SuperYacht Hospitality) required to start off. Add to this your personal abilities; looks, grooming, manners, work ethic, etc. and you’re on your way.

Without it you won’t get a job – not a legitimate one at least.

It’s a legislated requirement by the International Maritime Organization and you need it whether you are going to work on an oil rig or a megayacht.

The question is often asked; “What is STCW? And, What is STCW Basic Safety Training?” These are a very good questions, and ones that all yachties who have taken their required STCW course, which is anyone who wants to be eligible to work on a yacht, can tell you. The Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) is a mandatory course for all seafarers.

In order to work on a yacht, you will need to obtain this certificate, which is only done so after completing a weeklong STCW course that is broken down into five main sections.

Read About the Five STCW Sections and More Detailed Answer to: STCW Basic Safety Training – What Does This Mean?

Yes – all courses are MCA approved where there is a license or certificate objective. The course exceptions being those (such as hospitality training) in which the MCA is not involved.

The MCA is the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The British government department responsible for enforcing UK legislation on UK flagged vessels. Around 80% of the world’s commercially-active megayachts are registered in tax havens which fall under MCA jurisdiction an important factor in choosing a training provider.

We recommend that all students verify the suitability of courses and requirements they need for their chosen career objectives.

The northern hemisphere has the vast majority of the large private yachts and charter boats.The Mediterranean and United States have the most yachts subject to seasonality.

The yachts are mostly concentrated in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Miami and Fort Lauderdale (South Florida), but there is no shortage of opportunities in the likes of the Whitsundays with Alaska having experienced a recent boom in boating activity. Yacht concentrations are subject to the seasons and both the Mediterranean and United States are very large areas. There are seasonal migrations within each.

The Caribbean is seasonal destination for many large yachts, so this is also a prime job hunting area if you are “on the scene”. If you are not “on the scene”, then going to the islands to find a job has it’s risks. Its not convenient to drive from one island to the next :-)

The large yacht industry in general is continuing to go through a period of growth with seasons determined by summer, winter, hurricanes and weather in general.

Professional career yacht crew often move between the Mediterranean and Caribbean according to the season. During off-season periods they busy on maintenance tasks. This is frequently their holiday period and they may simply take some personal time and tour a little. The most common language spoken is English, but fluency in languages like French, Spanish and German can only be an advantage especially in Europe.

Best Locations – A Personal Choice

The parts of the world that are best locations to look for work are also a matter of personal interest and climate. You may prefer to work closer to home and choose a routine less stressful than charters and seasonal challenges.

As with all careers, everyone starts at the bottom of the ladder. The typical first job is to do the menial physical cleaning tasks. Walking the docks in search of that all-important first chance is frustrating, hard work in itself, but tenacity and the ability to handle disappointment will be rewarded.

This experience alone is a great eye-opener for young people. It opens you up to the lay of the land and networking.

Those who create the right impression while cleaning and polishing will earn around $10 to $15 an hour for a 5-to-10 hour day. They hope they will be recommended for other work, which in-turn is a way towards being signed on as a permanent crew member.

In other words, the way you handle your first job, is a critical step towards getting the next one.

Yes. The reality is this is a job and not a holiday and it is a very disciplined industry.

Also, like any job in any profession, you will be starting at the bottom of the ladder and you will come across clients and colleagues that are extremely demanding and others that are a real pleasure to be with.

However, the benefits are immediate (earn $ fast) and enduring (see the world and build up hundreds of travel stories to tell your friends and family).

The short answer here is no one can guarantee you a job. You start off day working, build a reputation and job offers will flow. Only you can do this.

Of course, being the hospitality industry, it is essential to have social skills and graces, be cultured, have good upbringing and good manners. Having extra skills that are useful on board and will make for a better experience for the charter guests/owners will make you much more marketable.

So if you can:

  • help out in the water, say assist in scuba diving, wakeboarding, waveskiing, sailboarding, waterskiing;
  • provide therapies such as manicures, pedicures, massages, aromatherapies, make up;
  • look after children with teaching, childminding and entertaining skills;
  • turn your hand to specialist technical tasks such as electronics.

then you will have an advantage.

See it as the 7 star boutique hotel industry on water and crewing on these luxurious boats (“ships” may be a better description) is as highly regarded as working in a top hotel. In all the European Union, Caribbean and United States areas the industry is highly regulated and licensed and skippers and owners respect the law. Any vessel found with any form of contraband or illegal substances will immediately lose its license and could mean confiscation of property (who wants to have their 300 foot multi-million mega-yacht seized by customs officials while they’re trying to enjoy the sunset with a bottle of Bollinger?).

In fact, they take it so seriously that as a crew member you probably will have to unpack all your belongings for scrutiny before boarding to check you’re legal.

Consider that your son or daughter can:

  • Work in a respectable industry
  • Earn Euro or $ quickly to repay tuition fees
  • Travel the world
  • Meet important people
  • Become independent
  • Return home with savings
  • Broaden horizons
  • Undergo personal growth
  • Develop people skills
  • Build character
  • Appreciate the value of discipline

There are many good books that compare the traditional career path with a more progressive and contemporary approach to working and life.

One of the better known is Robert Kiyosaki’s bestseller Rich Dad, Poor Dad which not only covers this subject, but primarily offers highly valuable and very practical solutions to creating and managing financial wealth.

A key message in his book is that one is never too young to begin building an asset base (he started at about 15) so that one is in a position to identify and jump at opportunities when they come along.

Doing a basic crew course at PYT is probably one of the best springboards to do so. Within a year, one can have qualified, learnt new life and social skills, developed and matured, earned enough to pay for one’s tuition, flown home on holiday and saved enough to buy one’s first property or start a small business.

Not to mention that all this is being achieved in some of the most popular and glamorous destinations around the world, in a highly respectable industry!

In the meantime, one’s peers will have completed only one year of tertiary education.