The ultimate guide to becoming superyacht crew
Written by Luke Wheeler
Last updated: 15/02/2017
There are a plethora of reasons why more and more people are packing their bags, and moving to a career at sea aboard luxury superyachts. Few jobs exist where you can be offered expense-free living on top of desirable salaries, voyages around the world to exotic locations, new people to meet around every corner, and hoards of unique experiences and stories to be picked up along the way. It’s a fantastic way to develop and train for a more dedicated maritime career, or just to explore a unique lifestyle for a few years whilst saving plenty of cash for later life.
But, of course, there aren’t quite enough superyachts out there yet for everyone who wants a crew job to get one; so how do you give yourself the best possible chance of securing yourself that dream job aboard an amazing superyacht?
The superyacht crew job market is booming, and it’s extremely competitive. In this Yachting Pages article, we’re going to cover the essential steps and pieces of information you need to know to give yourself the best possible chance of becoming superyacht crew.
Make sure you can work on a superyacht
It might sound slightly condescending, but as with many other unique industries, not everyone is quite cut out for this line of work. As luxurious as it can be made to sound, there is a lot of hard, stressful, physically and mentally demanding work to be done in this field.
You’re often dealing with very wealthy, powerful owners (referred to as UHNWIs: ultra-high net worth individuals) and their families, as well as their likely also-rich-and-powerful guests. The hours – particularly when guests or owners are on board – are typically very long. At the same time, you’re sleeping in shared cabins, away from home for extended periods of time, and personal privacy becomes a rarity – and you have to be able to handle it whilst maintaining the highest of spirits.
Then, there are the formalities. Have you got the correct VISAs? Correct training? Tattoos? Are you a smoker? These are all important factors that will impact your likelihood of securing a position.
For more information on making sure crewing aboard superyachts is for you, read our Could you work on a superyacht? article, where we go through eight questions to ask yourself before making your first step.
Remember the benefits and stay focused
The journey to becoming superyacht crew is tough, and it can sometimes be quite easy to become disheartened by elements of the process. Finding a ‘normal’ job can be tough on people, and often that’s just a few applications and an interview or two. Landing a job aboard a superyacht requires you to fork out for certain training beforehand, and often move to a different country just to find the limited opportunities out there to begin with; so when things don’t go your way, it can be a real punch in the face.
Of course, it’s likely you have key reasons and motivations for seeking this work in the first place – and it’s important to keep that at the front of your mind. If you’re feeling particularly knocked down, give our Benefits of working on a superyacht article a read, for a little reminder.
Understand the different roles on board and how you would fit in to them
The term ‘superyacht crew’ refers to at least a dozen-or-so very different roles. Some are more hospitality-focused such as a stewardess, and others more expertise-based, such as an engineer.
Whilst you may be planning to enter the industry as a deckhand and work your way up, it’s important to understand the roles, duties, and responsibilities of all crew on board. Check out our guide on Yacht crew positions and contracts for a complete rundown of who runs what, as well as salary ranges and main responsibilities for each different role, and even a sample contract and related paperwork you can read through.
Still up for it? Don’t forget to get trained up first!
The marine industry is awash (couldn’t resist) with training courses you can take and certifications you can acquire. Some of them are mandatory – such as the ENG1 medical certification and STCW training certificate – and others will simply help you obtain a more desirable skillset.
At Yachting Pages, we’ve written articles and news that cover a number of different certifications, including the essentials:
- How to get an STCW 95 / STCW 2010
- Yacht crew: How and where to get your ENG1 medical certificate
- Yacht stewardess training: PYA’s GUEST
- Crew training companies are misleading crew to take PSA alone
When it comes to additional training you can undertake to gain an advantage in your field, take a look at our The right training for the right crew article. Having additional skills you can put on your CV is a huge help in making you stand out amongst everyone else, so strongly consider what additional courses you could complete based on your chosen role, before you actively start looking for work.
Now, it’s about getting yourself out there!
Getting the training is only half the battle – you still have to get the job, too. Having an STCW and an ENG1 is great, but everyone competing against you has those, too.
This is when you should start to think about the finer details: is your CV as good as it could be? Are you going to look for work at the right time and in the right place? Are you sufficiently prepared for your interviews? How does a superyacht crew job interview even play out? It’s important to consider all these things before getting too excited.
Start with your CV. There are bazillions of resources out there on how to write a great CV, but we’ve written our own guide tailored towards writing a CV for working in the superyacht industry. There are some key differences between typical CVs in the corporate world and the marine / superyacht world, so we recommend you give the guide a good read.
Then, it’s the task of getting yourself out there. You’re going to need to get out to one of a few large yachting ‘hubs’ to get yourself noticed, but not just at any time of the year. Different yachting hotspots have their peak periods, and we discuss it in depth in our Your expert guide to crew accommodation in the superyacht industry article. Only super-experienced chiefs and captains are likely to ever be flown out for interviews; so unless that is your forte, you’ll need to be as accessible as possible to potential interviewers.
Your yachting career will likely begin with daywork: single, one-off jobs for a bit of cash and a nugget of valuable experience. You might even get called back. Emily Warburton-Adams from Bravo's Below Deck has a fantastic guide to daywork on her website.
It’s time to nail the interview!
Let’s all agree on one thing: job interviews aren’t exactly the most enjoyable things to go through, regardless of what industry you’re entering – but when you’ve gone to the effort of relocating yourself to search for crew work, and you’ve paid good money for multiple training courses and medical certifications, falling at the last hurdle hits even harder.
Expecting a job offer for every interview you attend is obviously unrealistic, but with some simple guidelines and advice, you can ensure you’re as well prepared as you possibly can be. This will never guarantee you’ll get a particular job – after all, sometimes no matter how qualified someone is, they just aren’t the right ‘fit’. You can, however, do everything in your power to impress potential employers and make them eager to get you on board.
Much like CVs, job interviews can be a little different in the superyacht industry. We go more in-depth into this topic in our How to succeed in a yacht job interview article, where you’ll learn what’s typically expected of yacht crew candidates at interview, amongst essential tips for the big day.
There are easier jobs to find in the world than a superyacht crew role – we all know that – but the amazing stories, experiences, and testimonials we hear from past and present crew are a testament to how those who put the hard work in, really do reap the rewards.
You can take a look at our Crew Agents listings here on Yachting Pages, for agencies that can greatly assist in your search for a career in yachting, or browse Crew Training companies for courses you'll need to get into the industry.
We wish all prospective crew the very best of luck, and be sure to join in with your fellow yachties on our social media channels.