Ask a yacht crew agent: FAQs for yacht crew jobs
Written by Sarah Rowland
Last updated: 09/02/2017
Superyacht jobs are both interesting and intriguing to new yachties hoping to enter the industry, but without friends and contacts in the industry there is often a lot left to question.
Yachting Pages answers a list of frequently asked questions for curious first-time yachties, and provides some handy resources for those seasoned crew seeking more information.
Is there a minimum age to work on yachts?
The minimum age to work aboard a yacht or superyacht is 16 years. However, no one under the age of 18 years is permitted to work throughout the night - defined as a period of at least nine hours, starting before midnight and ending before 5am. This is set out with MLC 2006 regulation (section A1.1). Some crew agents (marine recruitment specialists) and captains may therefore not place workers until they reach at least 18 years of age.
Can I find a yacht job working with my partner?
There are scenarios where couples and partners have found work on board superyachts together, but this is typically an opportunity for those crew of a more senior level, and such positions are not common in the industry. As an entry-level worker, it is unlikely that this will be permitted. Relationships can and do however often develop on board between crewmembers, and it is recommended that in this case captains are kept informed as soon as possible.
Do I need to speak languages to work in the yachting industry?
Not necessarily. English is the favoured language of the seas, but those with language skills may find they have a competitive edge over other yacht crew when searching for work. English is the language typically spoken on board many yachts, regardless of where they are based, but language skills are valuable, and will help yachties in dealing with superyacht owners, charter guests and marine suppliers around the world.
How do I find a yacht job?
The process of searching for a yacht job is similar to searching for work on land in many ways. Once you have the relevant training and visas in place, you can register with a marine recruitment agent or ‘yacht crew agent’ on or offline; you can search social media and forums for available jobs; you can walk the docks of the world’s yachting hubs; or you can choose to network in popular yachting hangouts.
When and where in the world can I find a yacht job?
Many looking for work in the superyacht industry decide to up and move to the sea as soon as possible, as it is a full-time job in itself looking for that first yacht job, and this is recommended. When looking for work, you may find that you start out by undertaking day work or filling temporary positions for cash and experience before you get lucky and are asked to start in a permanent position. It is recommended that yachties move to well-known yachting ‘hiring ports’ in line with the peak seasons to find work.
What crew training qualifications do I need?
In order to get started as crew on board a yacht or superyacht, it's mandatory for crew in all departments to have passed the STCW10 and ENG1 qualifications for safety on board. There are however plenty of other crew qualifications and related skills that will help you to get further in your career in the yachting industry.
Do I need to apply and/or pay for crew documents and visas?
There are some crew documents that crew are expected to apply and pay for, however the yacht owner will likely pay for most of your legal documents as you join and travel aboard the yacht. Once you have secured a job, MLC 2006 regulation (section A1.4) states that the seafarer should not contribute towards documents and visas, apart from a national statutory medical certificate (such as an ENG1), and a seafarer’s book and passport.
What will my salary be as a yacht crewmember?
As with many jobs, crew salaries can vary greatly across the industry depending on a number of factors, such as the level of skill and experience, the position taken on board, and the size and type of yacht.
What will my working hours be on board a superyacht?
There is simply no typical day on board a superyacht. Your working hours are subject to change, and will fluctuate with the seasons, guests and maintenance required. In the high season, you will work long hours and go long periods without a day off. In the low season you may get evenings and weekends off. Your captain or yacht management company will set out your working contract on board once you accept your yacht job - this will include information about your working hours, holiday allowance and expectations.
What skills are useful for my superyacht CV?
Although you may not have worked on superyachts before, you may find that you actually have lots of relevant experience to bring to the table, depending on the department you choose to seek work in. Stews and stewardesses will need bartending, catering, cleaning and hospitality skills; deck crew a background of boats and water sports; and officers experience of team and project management. It’s simply about relating your skills and experience to the job you’re applying for on board.
What should I expect in a yacht job interview?
Interviewing for a yacht job follows many of the same principals of shoreside interviewing. You should go equipped to answer questions about why you want to work on a yacht, what you could bring to the yacht and be ready to work. You should also be armed with questions for the captain about how he/she likes things done on board, and looking the part.
What should I take with me?
Always travel light! As an entry-level crewmember you are not granted much personal space, sharing cramped cabins with one other. You will be given all your crew uniform and clothing, and will have provided toiletries on board, so you will only need civilian clothes for your free time, and perhaps a tablet, kindle, journal and/or small personal effects and home comforts. Luckily you are likely to travel through some of the world’s most desirable and affluent places, so bits can be picked up along the way.
What’s after yachting?
The yachting industry is large and varied, and offers many transferrable skills for life after yachting. You could find shore-based work in the industry, perhaps as a florist or charter broker, or you could transfer back to land to take up a completely unrelated position. You’ll have travelled the world and earned some great team and project management skills along the way.