What is a superyacht purser?
Written by Sophie Allen
Last updated: 01/12/2016
Typically, the most widely known roles associated with yachts are the captain, stewardess, chief stew and deckhand. However, the purser is essential to the successful running of a superyacht and manages everything from interiors to accounts. Yachting Pages explores the role of a purser on board a superyacht and how to become one.
What does a yacht purser do?
A purser is a senior crew member who manages several areas of a superyacht, ranging from crew recruitment and financial matters, to interior management and provisioning.
The primary difference between a chief stewardess and a purser is that pursers will take on a lot of administrative work, and tend to only be found on larger yachts. On smaller vessels, a chief stewardess will typically manage the interiors, accounts etc.
Responsibilities of a purser include:
- The management of all financial matters on board including accounting and bookkeeping.
- HR, payroll and general crew management such as keeping crew certifications up to date.
- Management of the yacht’s interior including inventory tasks.
- Provisioning the vessel with food, beverages, cleaning supplies, uniforms etc.
- Working with heads of departments to ensure smooth, efficient management of financial matters and purchasing and provisioning logistics.
- Coordinating any contracts and deliveries to the superyacht.
- Planning events and arranging owner and guest trips, as well as managing pre-arrival tasks such as transport options and venue checks.
- General administration.
As Julie Perry explains in The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess, The purser is an ‘executive clerical assistant for the captain and each of the department heads’, and so they carry a huge amount of responsibility on board.
Working as a yacht purser requires incredible attention to detail in every task, from book keeping to anticipating the needs of every guest on board. A purser needs to maintain the highest standards for every aspect of their role; when it comes to managing the yacht’s interior, pursers may even get involved in purchasing decisions to offer a crew member’s perspective.
What is a land-based purser?
A land-based purser is able to manage a yacht’s administrative affairs without having to live and work on the superyacht at the same time. Shore-based pursers work on-land, but offer all the services of a purser, from general administration of finance and crew, to procurement, logistics, and guest services.
There are a number of reasons why owners may choose a land-based purser. An owner may not have enough room on board to accommodate a full time purser, the owner may have no need to employ a purser on board full time, or they may just need a purser who can be flexible with hours, whether it’s five hours or fifty hours a week.
How much is a purser paid?
As a lead crew member on board overseeing finance, interiors and other crew, a purser can expect to receive a very generous salary. Pay for a purser can range from roughly €4,000 to upwards of €7,000 per month.
As with all crew salaries, the amount can vary according to the size of the yacht. Websites and tools such as YPI Crew's Yachting Salaries, allow you to search a database of salaries submitted by yacht pursers. You can also read more about yacht salaries in our finance guide for crew.
How do you become a yacht purser?
It’s important to have a strong working knowledge and experience of the yachting industry, and a yacht purser will often have worked their way up from a junior stew role to chief stew before making the move over to purser. This is a particular advantage as stews who have worked their way up will already know a lot about how seven star customer service works in the yachting industry.
Due to the variety and nature of the work, an excellent administrative and/or accounting background is a must, as are computer skills such as Microsoft Word and Excel in order to manage the financials of a superyacht. Accuracy, attention to detail and organisational skills are also no-brainers for managing the interior. In terms of qualifications, pursers will need the STCW certificate and ENG1 Seafarer Medical Certificate or equivalent, which you can obtain through a crew training company. Some crew training companies will also offer specific courses to become a yacht purser.